Mabton negotiating with YCSO on staffing police department

Mabton negotiating with YCSO on staffing police department

MABTON, Wash.- With cities like Yakima, one of the biggest in the county, facing police shortages; cities like Mabton have it even worse.

Mayor Laura Vazquez said the city has struggled to bring in and keep officers around.

“Because it is a small town, our pay isn't compatible really with other police agencies. We're like the last stop for someone or the first,” she said.

The Mabton police department currently has one full time and one part time person operating out of the building next to city hall. To save money and get more officers on the streets, the city's looking to make a change.

That change is having the Yakima County Sheriff's Office take over the city's police department.

Chief Robert Udell said as the demand for police go up every year, more and more cities like Mabton are looking to bigger organizations like the sheriff's office to protect them.

“They don't have to worry about the management and who's getting the right training, the qualifications of the officers. This time, we worry about it like we have to anyway and they get the benefits of having fully trained deputies assigned just to them,” he said.

Mabton currently has a $600,00 budget for their police force, but Vazquez said the city needs to save money.

Since the city limits aren't very large, Vazquez said the city isn't able to collect much money from property taxes. So, any little bit helps.

“It's always good to save money and Mabton needs to save money right now and I know we're going to get quality officers,” she said.

The plan is for the sheriff's office to take over sometime this September. Vazquez said the city won't save much money in the first year, but could save about $100,000 during year two.

Udell said the transition will give them more officers on patrol and familiar faces the people can trust.

“We will become their police department. We'll have three resident deputies there. Mabton will have the luxury of having the same officers there every day,” he said.

Udell said once the transition happens, the current Mabton police department officer will have a chance to join the sheriff's office.

If he passes the tests, then he'll still be patrolling the street in Mabton.

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