Richland Police Response Slow Compared to Other Tri-City Departments - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Richland Police Response Slow Compared to Other Tri-City Departments

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RICHLAND, Wash. - The Richland Police Department has the slowest emergency response time in the Tri-Cities.  It's not something Richland is proud of, but police said it's not their fault.  

A burglary in progress. Richland police consider it one of their highest priorities. But the average officer doesn't arrive until five minutes later. Compare that to the three other police departments in the Tri-City area and Richland comes in dead last by a minute to a minute and a half.

Police said they'd like get there quicker. But they can't. They said don't have enough people to put on the streets.

"When you got 4 police officers working about 70% of the time covering 35 square miles and 4,500 residents those are some pretty thinly stretched resources," said Capt. Mike Cobb, Richland Police Department.   

Police said they'd hire more officers if they could, but so far city leaders won't make room in the budget. By the mayor's estimate one officer costs nearly $100,000 a year.

"That $100,000 has to come from somewhere. Do we take maintenance from parks? Do we take maintenance from libraries? Or, do we take street funds?" said Mayor Rob Welch, City of Richland.    

Police said they've put in another request to get more funding. But until they work out the budget, officers want people to know they're doing the best they can to get there as fast and safe as possible.

"We can guarantee you and look you in the eye and say our citizens are getting a good value for their tax dollar," Cobb said. 

Benton County residents will have a chance this fall to help Richland get more funding. Officers said if voters choose to raise the county sales tax, Richland will use the money to put more officers on patrol.