Federal contract affected
by Roger S. Lucas
Grand Coulee police officers can no longer operate within the town limits of Coulee Dam, according to a letter sent last Wednesday to Police Chief Mel Hunt.
The letter from Coulee Dam Chief Pat Collins revokes permission for Grand Coulee officers to operate within the town of Coulee Dam, even when they are covering for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Collins said Tuesday that the decision was prompted by Grand Coulee getting a bureau contract when Coulee Dam didn’t.
The bureau awarded the three-year, $1.6 million contract to Grand Coulee Sept. 13.
Collins said that the situation was further provoked when a Grand Coulee officer got involved in a traffic control situation within the town limits of Coulee Dam. “We will take care of our own traffic control,” Collins stated.
Hunt said that “it looks like our mutual aid agreement is in question.”
The two police departments have been at odds off and on since two Coulee Dam police officers took the side of Grand Coulee officer Danny Dice during an internal dispute inside Grand Coulee’s police department. Dice left the department to take a position elsewhere in the state but did collect about $35,000 in damages from the city.
The two municipalities, Grand Coulee and Coulee Dam, along with other law enforcement jurisdictions, have mutual aid agreements allowing officers from one town to assist, when requested, officers in another town or jurisdiction.
When asked how this would affect Grand Coulee’s ability to fulfill its Bureau of Reclamation contract, Collins said, “Grand Coulee officers have no legal jurisdiction inside the town limits of Coulee Dam without my consent.”
The contract awarded to Grand Coulee calls for providing law enforcement services at the Grand Coulee Power Office in the areas where the dam’s Plant Protection guard service “does not have authority or jurisdiction, and to provide support to the guard services in the case of an emergency,” a USBR press release stated in September. Much, if not most, of that area falls within the boundaries of the town of Coulee Dam.
Collins sent the same letter to the Bureau of Reclamation’s Boise office. He said there hasn’t been any government response to his letter.
“I think those in Boise have been furloughed because of the government shutdown,” stated. However, later it was learned that Boise officials had received the letter and were “evaluating” the situation.
Collins letter stated: “In accordance with the Washington Mutual Aid Peace Officer Powers Act of 1985, I hereby revoked consent to Grand Coulee Police Department within the Town of Coulee Dam.
“This consent during my tenure as chief of police for the Town of Coulee Dam and thereafter has been revoked. This consent is not intended to reallocate, under Section 4 of Chapter 89 codified at RCW 10.93.040, the responsibility of the authorized agency for the acts or omissions of its officers. The authorized agency is subject to any reasonable reporting requirements now in effect or hereafter imposed by this agency.”