Council has questions about law enforcement coverage for Tonasket

Okanogan County Undersheriff Dave Yarnell discussed the past 30 days of activity with the Tonasket City Council

TONASKET – Okanogan County Undersheriff Dave Yarnell discussed the past 30 days of activity with the Tonasket City Council during last week’s regular council meeting, Aug. 22.

“It appears that the activity in the Tonasket area is about normal for this time of year. We had 74 complaints for the last 30 days. Year-to-date, we’ve had 420 complaints,” said Yarnell.

Yarnell briefed the council regarding a program led by the U.S. Marshals Service aimed at reducing the growing numbers of violent offenses across the state of Washington.

The program was a multi-agency operation, entitled, “Operation Centennial Trail.” The operation resulted in the apprehension of more than a dozen offenders. The operation spanned several days, Aug. 7-11.

According to a press release from the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) “fugitives” were arrested with the collaborative efforts of the Brewster Police, Colville Tribal Police, Omak Police, North Central Washington Narcotics Task Force, Washington State Department of Corrections, U.S. Border Patrol and the United States Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force located in Eastern Washington and the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office.

“Within a span of several days, law enforcement focused on apprehending violent fugitives and repeat offenders that were a risk to public safety within Okanogan County and outlying areas. These offenders were apprehended on warrants for Vehicular Homicide, Burglary, Robbery, Possession of Child Pornography, Dangerous Drugs, Sex Offenses and Illegal Entry,” said OSCO.

Yarnell said a couple of individuals were picked up out of the Tonasket area.

“So, that is going to make Tonasket a little more safe,” said Yarnell.

The OCSO said, “during the operation, officers focused on reducing case backlogs, apprehending violent fugitives, and reducing overall violent crime. More than 12 offenders were apprehended without incident and were booked into the Okanogan County Jail.”

Earlier this month, Yarnell said a deputy assigned to Tonasket did not make it through probation.

“We did pick up a lateral deputy, he came to us from Ferry County. He started his field training this week and because he is a lateral he should be done with his field training within six weeks or so. He will be out patrolling in the North County area,” said Yarnell.

Mayor René Maldonado said he has received concerns about not seeing officers in Tonasket.

Maldonado asked Yarnell to speak to the concerns.

“You have a deputy that is in the academy, right now,” said Yarnell.

Yarnell said the deputy will graduate on Sept. 7, and he invited the mayor to attend the graduation ceremony.

According to Yarnell, currently, the north end deputy is tasked with the majority of their shift in and around the Tonasket area and responding to county calls as needed.

“But they are supposed to be staying in the Tonasket area and doing area patrols and making contact with the community,” said Yarnell.

Councilwoman Alisa Weddle asked for clarification.

“So, you’re saying that we have one deputy in the academy but no other deputies. So, technically we don’t have any deputies assigned to Tonasket, currently?”

Yarnell said currently there are no deputies assigned to Tonasket.

“Every one of the 74 complaints that have come in the last 30 days have been handled by a deputy,” said Yarnell.

As a member of the Public Safety Committee, Weddle asked for a conversation with Okanogan County Sheriff Paul Budrow.

“We’re paying a lot of money per month to have two deputies present,” said Weddle.

Weddle said she would like to have a more in-depth conversation about what it means for the city regarding their contract with Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement coverage, and understand how to proceed.

There were no public comments on the evening’s agenda.

Alice Attwood, City Clerk, asked the council if there were any more additions or corrections to the Kiosk Mural information packet given at the previous meeting.

“I would like to put those together for the next meeting and we can approve the mural,” said Attwood.

The council approved the Art Agreement with Okanogan Highlands Alliance for the placement of the Mosaic Mania mural on City Hall and authorizing the Mayor to sign the applicable documents. The mosaic mural will depict wildflowers and other plants and animals characteristic of the Okanogan.

The council heard department head reports.

Weddle asked Attwood how funds from the fire camp are allocated.

“What we generally do when we have a fire camp, they pay us extra funds to the general fund because that’s where Airport is out of, is the general fund. We try to earmark that for projects,” said Attwood.

Attwood said there is currently around $7,200 from the previous earmarked fund.

“The last run we just got from them was $5,000. So, that will go into that little pot for future projects,” said Attwood.

Attwood reported that city hall now has new front doors.

“One of the first people through the doors was a man in a wheelchair and he was ecstatic. It was so nice to see the smile on his face,” said Attwood.

Councilwoman Patti Hill recommended the report given by the pool manager be looked at by the Pool Committee and Parks and Recreation because there were recommendations made.

The council discussed information regarding bids for the 4th Street Project.

Attwood said there were five bidders for the project. The low bidder is Rudnick and Sons in the amount of $263,055.00.

Councilman Jeff McMillan moved to award the bid for the 4th Street Multimodal Improvements Project to Rudnick and Sons, LLC in the amount of $263,055.00 and to authorize the mayor to sign all applicable documents. Councilwoman Teagan Levine seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Lee Orr of the Airport Improvement Club went over the update for the Capitol Improvement Program (CIP) for the Airport. Levine moved to approve the CIP list as presented. McMillan seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously.

The next scheduled council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held at city hall in the council chambers.