City council votes to stop negotiations with Sheriff’s Department
Don’t let it be said that citizens of Granite Falls aren’t passionate about their police officers, as a matter-of-fact, over 800 residents signed a petition within a two-week period to ‘One Loud Voice - Save the Granite Falls Police Department’ and presented their signatures to the city council on October 17 at the regularly scheduled council meeting.
On October 4, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department sent out a press release stating, “the Granite Falls City Council and Mayor voted to continue with negotiations for contracting police services with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.”
However, the grass-roots driven drive to keep the GFPD changed the minds of the two council members who voted earlier to continue with negotiations.
According to the online petition, Granite Falls would go from a local officer patrolling the 1.7 square mile city to one County deputy patrolling 60 square miles around the city.
“There are proposed alternatives that will keep our force intact, and even help the City save more than $300,000 in the next five years. Plus, the Pilchuck Foundation has offered to sponsor a pledge drive to help the City fund police equipment and training,” the petition stated.
“The department, as a whole, feels good about it,” Granite Falls Police Chief Dennis Taylor said. “The challenge we now face is what we have faced before, the budget. How do we balance our expenditures with declining revenues?”
Taylor is grateful to the residents of the city who have entrusted him and the police department with keeping them safe.
“The police officers would like to thank Catherine Anderson, the Pilchuck Foundation and the rest of the community who came out in droves to sign the petitions,” he said. “It is always reassuring to have the support of the community and those that you serve.”
While the group seeking signatures acknowledges there were some who wouldn’t sign the petition, almost 90 percent of those who were asked to sign did and were grateful for the work the department has been doing, even on a tight budget.
According to Catherine Anderson, who is an integral part of keeping the police department local, many residents acknowledge the good that the department continues to do within the city.
*Owner of the Spar Tree Bar and Grill talked about policing the neighborhood around his place each night, because of the vandalism and other troublemakers who are out during and after his closing time. He talked about our local police force keeping an eye out for drunk drivers.
* We heard people saying they would be happy to pay more in taxes or rates in order to keep our force, even from people who don’t live in city limits!
* Stories from parents who had kids that got into trouble, and how if their child had been stopped outside city limits by the county, they would have been arrested. But because the Granite Falls Police caught them, they kept the child out of juvie and helped keep them out of future trouble.
Now, the city council will have to take a look at where to go from here.
“There are two models that have been presented one consists of the current staffing model of five police officers and the other model looks at staffing four,” Taylor explained. “The mayor hasn’t decided which model we’re going with.”
Stopping negotiations has nothing to do with the performance of or the relationship that the GFPD has with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, in fact, GFPD has always had a positive working relationship with the SCSO.
“The relationship between the GFPD and the Sheriff’s Department will never change,” Taylor said. “We’ve always had a good working relationship with them.”