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Police tussle shows opposite of progress



As absurd as it is starting to appear, the current discussion between Grand Coulee and Electric City regarding their police services contract at least serves to illustrate why an area with a tiny population continues to burden itself with four separate towns where one would do nicely. The problem is we’re too focused — on ourselves.

Electric City is now considering the possibility of launching its own police department rather than accept the sticker shock of a proposed huge increase in the rate it pays to Grand Coulee for the service.

That’s just not possible if Electric City residents wish to continue getting 24/7 police protection, at least not for less than they’re spending now. At an average salary and benefits for five officers (the minimum needed for 24/7 coverage) of $68,000 a year, you’ve already spent $341,000 a year before buying cars, guns, or a building. The city currently pays $79,000.

Of all the calls Grand Coulee Police get from the dispatch center in Moses Lake, 27 percent come from Electric City. If that percentage was Electric City’s portion of the $615,000 a year Grand Coulee spends on police for local coverage, Electric City would pay $166,000 a year — still sticker shock territory, but less than half of salaries alone for a separate department.

Now that the math is out of the way, let’s call it what it is: irrelevant. None of that matters, and focusing on such details, as negotiators for two municipalities must, is a smear on the lens of anyone trying to see the bigger picture.

The town of Coulee Dam is currently protecting its citizens some of the time with just two officers while officials try to build up the ranks again after losing a $500,000 federal security contract.

Connecting the dots, the question has to be, why have two departments, let alone three?

The answer probably has nothing to do with rational thought, but instead draws on decades of irrelevant tradition and pride at the expense of actually delivering the best service possible to the people.

Those people, the citizens of Coulee Dam, Grand Coulee and Electric City, should demand their leaders stop playing unwinnable games and start collaborating on a sustainable plan for the future, together.

Scott Hunter

editor and publisher

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