In a unanimous vote, the Liberty Lake City Council passed a resolution Tuesday to adopt a K-9 dog program for the Liberty Lake Police Department. As part of his presentation to the council, Police Chief Brian Asmus had the Airway Heights Police Department show off its K-9 unit in a demonstration during Tuesday’s Council meeting.
“We’re hoping it’s going to be a deterrent,” said Asmus. “Once people learn that we have a drug-detection dog as part of our department, word will get out and hopefully that will help curtail some of the drug trafficking that we suspect is happening in our region. Just with I-90, being so close to the Idaho border, and Liberty Lake happening to be a halfway point between Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, it’s a spot that we suspect there is probably more drug dealing going on than we’ve been able to uncover.”
Asmus notified the Council that the majority of over $5,500 in initial costs to find and train a dog would be picked up in grants.
“Our plan is to pick a handler amongst our officers,” said Asmus. “We’ll send them to the K-9 handler school which is a six-week program. That will start in either September or October. Basically our goal would be at the end of November or so to have the program fully in place.”
The meeting was highlighted by a lengthy discussion within the Council about a recent town hall meeting held by newly elected Councilman Josh Beckett. Several council members, including Judi Owens, Susan Schuler, Cris Kaminskas and Mayor Pro Tem David Crump expressed their concerns with Beckett holding an informal meeting with the public without advising the council prior to the meeting. The council also brought up issues with Beckett using the Liberty Lake city logo on his advertisement of the town hall and that none of the information brought up by residents to Beckett had been shared with the council.
“When I was running for council, part of my frustration was there isn’t a whole lot of interaction between the council and the residents,” said Beckett. “I knew by having this forum it was going to spark debate and I think that not only did it spark debate, but we also heard we’re going to try to change formats to agendas to encourage more people to participate. My objective was to spark the debate. I respect and appreciate the concerns. People feeling off guard, that wasn’t my intention, so I’m going to continue to do this, but I’m definitely going to do it a little differently so that no one is caught off guard. I’m not going to do anything to alienate myself from the people that voted for me. If by doing better communication both verbally and by e-mail to my fellow council members and the mayor, I’m happy to do that, but it won’t be something I’m deterred from doing because it sparks such debate.”
In a discussion whether committee meetings or workshops were the best course of action to do city business, Schuler suggested moving workshop items toward the top of city council meetings to encourage more participation from the public and move action items from the council to the back of the agenda so that people who wish to speak wouldn’t have to sit through the “routine” business of the council. Owens favored the idea and suggested starting the meetings earlier than the current the 7 p.m. time. No formal action was taken on the matter.
The Council also heard the latest on the Valleyway improvement from members of the ad-hoc committee working to improve safety on the right of way on the Bella Lago development. Councilman Beckett and resident Mary Munger both gave updates, and indicated that the meetings with developer George White were going well, and the committee would meet again Friday to try and narrow down the number of plans they would bring to the Council by the next meeting.