Proposed budget for new 911 center and police technology

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- Yakima's moving closer to a budget that includes spending more than a million dollars on designing a new 911 dispatch center. Yakima is also considering spending more than a $100,000 dollars on license plate readers to install in police cars. KIMA learned more about the proposed safety budget for 2014.

Yakima's goal is to fill empty halls of the unused jail in Union Gap. The city wants to work with Yakima County to convert it into a new 911 communications dispatch center. Total cost of the project is estimated at around $7 million.

"It's a necessary investment," said City Manager Tony O'Rourke. "I mean you can't move forward without having to make some investments. And this is a major step forward."

O'Rourke told KIMA the current 911 building located in the Law and Justice Center has become too small for operations. The city plans to set aside $1 million to hire a design team for 2014.

"We pretty much are physical busting out of the seams and there's a necessity there." said O'Rourke.

Yakima police might also get technology to help track stolen cars faster. The city is considering buying automated license plate readers for eight squad cars. Officers can find out the status of a passing car without typing into their computers.

"I think it's positive because there has been a pretty large amount of stolen vehicles," said Victor Slockish.

Victor Slockish plans to move to Yakima in the next month to be with his family. He's heard about the stolen car problem. His close friend actually had his car stolen in broad daylight.

"Because it's such a public place, I mean how does it happen, I can't believe it," said Slockish.

Slockish now locks his car every time. He hopes new scanners will help deter thieves looking to get behind the wheel.

The license plate readers would cost $135 grand.

Yakima also plans to extend the downtown bike patrols.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Tuesday.