Donation re-arms Tonasket cops

The Tonasket Police Department was the beneficiary of a donation by local gun shop owner Mike Murphy, who presented these rifles to the local cops at the June 13 City Council meeting.

The Tonasket Police Department was the beneficiary of a donation by local gun shop owner Mike Murphy, who presented these rifles to the local cops at the June 13 City Council meeting.

TONASKET – The Tonasket Police Department got a big boost from a local merchant as Mike Murphy of Murphy’s Sporting Goods donated a set of new guns, binoculars and other equipment to the department.

Murphy was on hand at the Wednesday, June 13, Tonasket City Council meeting to present Police Chief Rob Burks with his new equipment and give details to the council.

“Working with Rob for the last couple of years, I saw the need to help you guys out,” Murphy said. “So what I’ve done here, is I got some new firearms and donated them to them. ‘Cause the stuff they had was kind of old.”

Murphy donated a pair of 590 shotguns, as well as a 930 semi-automatic designed “specifically for your new officer (Audra Fuller),” Murphy said. “It reduces the recoil and makes it easier for her to shoot.

“The point is, you’re getting brand new stuff instead of guns that are 10- to 12-years-old. And what you want is if, God forbid, if Audra has to go down, Jim has to go down they have the same firearms, they can pick them up and they can respond. Everybody’s got the same stuff, they know exactly what they’re doing. Same caliber, same everything, to make it efficient and help them out at the same time.”

Murphy also donated a set of tactical gun cases and slings, five zoom binoculars, holographic sights for day or night target acquisition, Buckeye cameras with a two-mile range that can transmit images directly to the police department, and property security devices.

“The police department is the first line of defense against criminals,” Murphy said. “We need to take care of them.”

Murphy said that the wholesale cost of the donated equipment – not including tax or labor – was $4,532, and the cost on the open market would have been about $7,000.

“He’s brash, but community minded,” Burks said of Murphy. “It’s a tax write-off for him but he loves what he does. He does a lot around town, sponsors shooting teams, does firearms training.

“He honestly cares about us and wants us to have better equipment.”

Burks said during his department report that he’d received more complaints about officers in the past three weeks than in his previous seven years as chief.

“People say things like, ‘You put out extra officers because you’re picking on the Conscious Culture festival goers,’ or racial profiling. I’m not sure how a festival-goer became a race.

“Halloween we put out extra officers; that doesn’t mean we’re picking on trick-or-treaters. New Year’s Eve I have extra patrols. Anything that has high traffic, there’s potential for problems. I’m not going to leave one officer out there hanging to do all that… things can happen. That’s why we have extra patrols while there’s extra stuff going on.”

Burks said they have caught a number of suspended-license drivers of late, while Darren Curtis and his canine partner Zeus have made a number of drug busts where drugs, including heroin, had been in cars that were stopped.

“If you don’t want to get in trouble, don’t break the law,” Burks said. “Don’t have drugs in your car…. We’re not picking on people. We’re working.”

Even at that, Burks said, out of 47 recent traffic stops, only eight tickets were written.

“My big things are insurance and child restraints,” Burks said. “And if you don’t have a license, you’re going to get (a ticket).”

“Thanks for taking the heat,” said councilmember Jill Vugteveen. “You guys have really stepped up. It’s good to get the word out that Tonasket is enforcing its laws.”

“You guys don’t get thanked enough,” said Mayor Patrick Plumb. We really appreciate what you’ve been doing lately.”

The Tonasket City Council next meets Tuesday, June 26, 7:00 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.

About Brent Baker

Brent is a reporter for the Gazette-Tribune. Prior to working at the G-T, he was the sports editor for Sunrise Publishing from 2000-2005 in Michigan. He subsequently owned and operated Buckland Media, a high school sports website, in Michigan until 2010. He and his wife Kim, who have an adult son, moved to Tonasket in 2010. Brent started work at the G-T in 2011.

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