The real reason the Yakima Police Department is understaffed

The real reason the Yakima Police Department is understaffed

YAKIMA Wash. -- The Yakima Police Department has been understaffed for a couple of years now and some people are concerned that this is affecting the high crime in the city.

At a recent public safety forum, community members talked about the violence in Yakima and how they feel like police officers don't show up when they make a call.

Many of them said they have been hearing the same answer over and over that there aren’t enough police officers on staff.

Captain Jeff Schneider with the Yakima Police Department says they are doing the best they can to patrol the streets but with more than a dozen officers understaffed their resources are limited.

“We have to prioritize the calls so when somebody calls in for a theft call they’ll want to know how long it’s going to be before an officer gets there and we can’t even tell them," said Captain Schneider.

Many officers have been retiring or moving to other states and they are not able to find candidates that can fill their positions.

City Manager Cliff Moore says the city has been having the money to afford over 100 commissioned officers and get paid about 55 to 60 thousand dollars yearly.

“This year we are budgeted for 148 commissioned officers and five years ago we were budgeted for 131 commissioned officers," said Moore.

Captain Schneider says the real reason why they are not able to hire more staff is because they just can’t find any people willing to work in Yakima.

He says the few people that do apply for the position don’t end up getting hired because of the recruitment process.

“We do a lot of in depth testing and that’s where we lose a lot of applicants. We lose them on background checks we lose them on drug checks," said Schneider.

Captain Schneider says that by 2018 the Patrol staff could be at about 20 percent understaffed if they are not able to find new hires.

The Yakima Police Department will be hosting a Public Safety Testing event this Sunday in Pasco, for anyone who is interested in becoming a police officer.

For the Yakima Police Department click here.

For the Public Safety Testing event click here.

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