Trying to solve Spokane’s serial killings is putting a strain on staffing in the Police Department, say city officials.
Tonight, the City Council will consider adding three positions to the department. If approved, the two detectives and one sergeant would replace officers shifted to the homicide task force.
“We are greatly understaffed,” Police Chief Terry Mangan told the council last week. “We are utilizing tremendous amounts of personnel and time …
“We absolutely have to support this task force operation, even at the expense of the other things that we do.”
Mangan said the task force, which also includes two Sheriff’s Department detectives, has received more than 1,000 tips since it was formed in November. He added he expects the task force to be in place at least two years. “By that time, it’ll either tail off or be successful,” he said.
In a few weeks, the council will consider hiring three new police officers with money from a federal grant. The officers would replace those promoted to the new jobs.
Unlike past grants, this one would allow the city to get rid of the positions if the federal money runs out in three years. The three officers wouldn’t be laid off, but three officers who retire would not be replaced.
Mangan cautioned the council against doing that, saying the city’s population growth makes a larger force necessary.
“There is a commitment to try to increase staffing levels,” he said.
The additional sergeant and two detectives will cost about $156,000, which will be paid for with dollars from the department’s overtime budget.