Crime numbers up in Walla Walla, officer numbers down - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Crime numbers up in Walla Walla, officer numbers down

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WALLA WALLA, Wash. - In 2010 The Walla Walla Police Department employed a total of 45 officers and during that time there were less calls for service in the City. But in the last two years the economy has forced the Department to cut back. Today they have just 41 officers while calls for service are going up.

"The budget hasn't been finalized but as it stands right now, we're staying at 41 commissioned officers," said Walla Walla Police officer Tim Bennett.

He said the Department is fighting a losing battle as the number of crimes increases in the City as the number of officers on the street stays the same.

"Hopefully other funding sources can be opened up so that we can get our staffing levels up to where we need to be to combat this problem but until that time it's just an unknown. We're just going to keep doing the best job we can with the limited resources that we have," Bennett said.

The City budget is not cutting anymore positions at the WWPD but one retired position will not be refilled this year. 

Results of a Citizen Satisfaction Survey were released this week and people who live in Walla Walla say crime is one of their top concerns.

"You're saying, then would you not fill the vacancy. Well, it's because of the financial pressures and trying to reach a balance. Also, there's a loose linkage between the number of officers and crime. What I mean by that is we couldn't just double the number of officers and expect that there would be zero crime in Walla Walla," said City Manager Nabiel Shawa.

Luckily, Bennett said the Department is teaming up with the Sheriff's Office and even College Place Police to keep their city's safe.

"We couldn't do our jobs without having very strong partnerships with the other agencies, including the State Patrol," Bennett said.

A number of years ago Walla Walla residents voted to allocate one tenth of the City's sales tax towards criminal justice. However, Shawa said that all the City's tax revenues are now put into a general fund and that money is distributed according to the City's needs.