After well over a year of searching for a new chief of police, the Medical Lake City Council heard from Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich Tuesday to discuss what it would mean for the city to contract services through the Sheriff’s Office.
Knezovich told the council that he wants to make sure the city’s needs would be met with any agreement. He said one of the benefits the city would receive would be two detectives staffed in the office. He would also work to strengthen the city’s current SCOPE program.
“We want to know what your needs are,” he told the council.
Councilmember John Paikuli asked the sheriff if the current staff could stay on if the city decided to go this route.
Knezovich said that by state law, he can offer the current police staff the opportunity to stay on as long as they meet the requirements of the Sheriff’s Office.
Councilmember Brenda Redell asked what the city could expect as far as the local phone numbers the residents use to get in touch with police officers.
The sheriff said that as well as getting the benefit of Crime Check and 911, residents will most likely still have the capability of reaching police officers at night. He said he understands there is a local culture and a way that residents are used to doing things.
“We want to blend with what you have,” he said.
Redell also wanted to know if the Sheriff’s Office would require its officers to live in the area. She felt that when officers take their patrol cars home with them when they are not on duty, they still have a presence in the neighborhood.
Knezovich said that issue is the one he could not guarantee for the city.
He also said that the office should be staffed with four to six officers working 12-hour shifts. The Sheriff’s Office could bring officers in to cover for sick time, vacations and training.
The officers could wear Medical Lake uniforms and drive Medical Lake patrol cars, if that is what the city wanted.
This is just the first conversation between the city council and the Sheriff’s Office. No estimates have been made as far as the cost to the city, since the cost would depend on the agreement. Knezovich said he would like the first contract between the city and the Sheriff’s Office to last three years.
The conversation between the council and the sheriff was informational only, and no action was taken.
The next Medical Lake city council meeting will be March 17 at 6:30 p.m.