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Council: push for consolidation

 


When the mayor of Coulee Dam told the town council last week that consolidating police services might not go anywhere for years, they asserted it was worth pushing for anyway.

Mayor Greg Wilder filled the council in on talks he’d had with Grant County and Okanogan County officials concerning the details of police dispatch if Coulee Dam Police were to serve Electric City. The two municipalities have emergency services dispatched from different county centers, creating technical issues and possibly long delays on some calls. He wanted to explore the idea of simply consolidating services, but the talks hadn’t gone well and it seemed that political differences would make any consolidation of police departments unlikely.

He suggested pushing ahead with plans to find a new police chief to replace newly-retired Pat Collins. Maybe a few years in the future, the time would be right to approach the idea of consolidation, he suggested.

But Councilmember Shawn Derrick pushed back.

“Every time I’ve ever talked to anyone about combining emergency services in these towns, it’s always come up in a pretty positive light.”

He said it would save money operationally.

Councilmember Gayle Swagerty agreed and noted that a study done in the 1990s had showed consolidation of even whole towns is possible.

Duane Johnson agreed, suggesting the town and its citizens would save money and be better served by combining police, fire and ambulance. “And operationally I think it would be more effective, because … you’d have one point of communication,” he said.

Wilder said that he was in total agreement with the concept, but that the pragmatic issues are more complicated than they might appear.

He said he will continue to discuss the matter of police consolidation with Grand Coulee’s incoming mayor and police chief.

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