Coulee Dam still negotiating for USBR contract
Officials in the town of Coulee Dam are hopeful that they will be able to make a deal with the Bureau of Reclamation on a law enforcement contract.
Mayor Quincy Snow, Police Chief Pat Collins and Councilmember Bob Poch met last Wednesday with the Bureau’s regional director, Lorri Lee, to make another attempt to land a contract.
Chief Collins said that another meeting is scheduled for later this week and that “negotiations continue.”
Recent developments saw the Bureau award a continuing contract to Grand Coulee, but Coulee Dam’s law enforcement contract wasn’t extended, forcing the town to lay off police.
For years, the contracts have accounted for four officers for each of the towns.
In a letter to the editor this week, Mayor Snow pointed out the importance of the contract.
“The Coulee Dam police department has provided 24 hour 7 day a week police protection to the Bureau of Reclamation since September 11, 2001. This contract has provided for additional security presence within and around Coulee Dam, along with enabling the town to provide for additional employment and maintain and improve its police equipment. In detail these funds provide for up to date communication equipment, training, less threatening options for law enforcement equipment and police vehicles on a rotation schedule.
“With the loss of this contract, the town’s budget is unable to retain adequate police personnel, which in turn required us to lay off employees and reduce the security presence within the town.”
The absence of the contract means there will be four fewer officers in the town.
However, it didn’t take long before the issue became political.
Greg Wilder, who is challenging four-term Mayor Snow in the current election, stated that he opposes the contract.
In a letter to USBR Project Manager Mark Jenson Wilder stated: “I do not support the town providing protective services for federal infrastructure. Instead, I believe that our focus should return to community policing and school resource activities. Nor do I find the recent Coulee Dam reaction to the USBR contract with Grand Coulee productive or in anyone’s better interest.”
After it was learned that Grand Coulee got a contract and Coulee Dam didn’t, Chief Collins revoked permission for Grand Coulee officers to operate within the town limits of Coulee Dam.
“I view this forced budget reduction as a community opportunity to rethink what it is that we want, need and can afford,” Wilder stated. “I also view this forced reduction as an opportunity to work with the school, our sister-cities, and the Tribes to develop more cohesive, responsive and lasting partnerships.”
In the absence of a federal contract, the town will have only three full-time officers.