|Ballot Measure Background|
|Specifics of the Ballot Measure|
|How the measure will impact:|
The City of Kennewick has declared their intent to use the monies gained from the Public Safety Sales Tax to hire 15 commissioned officers. One Assistant City Attorney and 2 Support Staff positions will be hired to support these positions and meet other needs in the Department. The tax will fund all these positions at an annual cost estimated to be $1,931.406.
In addition, Kennewick residents will also receive benefits from the sales tax outlined here for all Benton County residents.
Explanation for the Need:
The City of Kennewick's population has grown by 19,000 people in the past ten years. It has 1.22 officers per 1,000 city residents, a rate that has been declining since the early 2000s. The city has remained under the state average of 1.68 officers per 1,000 residents for at least the past seven years. There has been a net gain of one police officer in the past ten years.
Kennewick, not unlike other parts of the state and country, has been plagued by criminal gang activity during the past ten years. Over the last ten years the Department's total call activity has increased by 5%. Due to the complexity of investigating criminal gang activity, changes in the law requiring officers having to obtain search warrants that were not previously required, and dealing with felony activity, the time it take police officers to deal with these types of activity has increased by approximately 25%. This has reduced the officer's ability to be more preventative and responsive to general types of crimes that are not in progress.
In 2004 when the police department put together the very successful Criminal Apprehension Team (CAT) consisting of a Sergeant, Corporal and four detectives, those resources were taken from existing personnel. The first year the team made over 1,000 arrests, resulting in the addition of two more detectives, for a total allotment of 8. All were from existing resources impacting other areas of the Department. To date they have not been able to back fill those positions. In a positive note CAT has consistently made over 1,000 arrests each year since 2004 and their primary focus has always been criminal gang activity and street level narcotics (the lower level that the Metro Drug Task Force does not focus on).
Due to proper management of its resources, Kennewick has been successful in reducing its crime rate. Over the past 10 years it has declined from 51.2 crimes per 1,000 residents to 35.9 crimes per 1,000 residents. "We still live in a very safe community" Chief Ken Hohenberg said. He adds the true challenge is how to keep it that way. The Public Safety Sales Tax will help by filling necessary positions within the Department.
McCurley Integrity Dealerships
President & CEO,
Tri-Cities Visitor &
City of Prosser
Craig D. Eerkes
Sun Pacific Energy