Home  /  Mayor Ferrell Proposes Adding 13 Police Officers

Mayor Ferrell Proposes Adding 13 Police Officers

Tuesday, September 21, 2021 - 1:00pm

CITY HALL
33325 8th Avenue South
Federal Way, WA 98003
Media Contact: Steve McNey | Mayor’s Office
(253) 835-2402
Steve.McNey@cityoffederalway.com

For immediate release:

Mayor Jim Ferrell Proposes 13 New Police Officers in Federal Way

Federal Way, WA – Mayor Jim Ferrell has announced his plan to significantly increase the size of the Federal Way Police Department.  Under the Mayor’s proposal, Federal Way will add 13 new police officers to meet the growing demands of Federal Way’s growth in population.

As of April 2020 (U.S. Census), City of Federal Way population was 101,030.  Based on that figure, our police officer ratio is 1.36 per 1,000 residents.  Given the rapid growth of nearly 5,000 people in a single year (96,289 people in 2019), and with other significant developments underway, the rapid growth will continue in the foreseeable future.  Major projects such as Light Rail and The Commons will significantly bring more visitors and residents to our downtown area.

In October 2006, the population of Federal Way was 86,350.  In November 2006, the Federal Way voters passed Proposition #1, the Public and Community Safety Service Improvement Package.  This resulted in an additional 18 commissioned FTEs (to 136 total) and one additional records specialist FTE.  Prop 1 brought the officer ratio to 1.59 officers for each 1,000 residents, an increase from 1.37

In 2006, the department had 15 records specialists for a service population under 87,000.  In 2007, the department had an authorized strength of 136 police officers.  However, the recession of 2008-2011 severely impacted public funding.  In May 2009, the police department stopped filling vacancies.  Through gradual attrition the staffing level dropped to 122 police officer positions.  To accommodate those reductions, we eliminated some police positions, including the criminal intelligence detective, two pro-act officers (pro-active uniformed officers, rather than re-active officers), traffic officers (from 8 to 3), and records personnel. 

In 2006, we had 15 records specialists, serving a population under 87,000.  During the recession that was reduced to 10.  Accordingly, some police services were de-prioritized. 

Since 2014, Mayor Ferrell and the Council have steadily increased the officer numbers.  Our current authorized strength is presently 137.  Records remains at 10. 

Changes in our public environment compel us to commit more resources.  Providing the Police Department with additional staffing and resources will enhance public safety in our community, reducing gun violence and other crimes, and meet the demands of our growing community.

 

“Public Safety is the number one priority of my Administration and as Mayor I must do everything within my power to keep Federal Way safe,” said Mayor Jim Ferrell.  “As our community grows with new developments, regional shifts in population, and increased visitors with the expansion of Light Rail, we must proactively and strategically do our part to ensure we can meet the demands of that growth,” Ferrell continued.

 

Federal Way’s population and calls for service support an authorized strength of 150 police officers.  150 officers would be 1.49 per thousand, based on last year’s population of 101,030.

In addition to adding police officers, two additional specialists will be required in order to maintain the current level of service to the public.  The increased number of sworn officers and the additional expectations of the public mandate that the Records Section keeps pace with its internal staffing.

Allocation of 13 Additional Police Officers (137 to 150)

We propose deploying the additional 13 commissioned positions in this manner:

  • 6 officers to patrol, one to each of the six patrol squads
  • 4 officers to form a pro-act unit
  • 2 officers to Special Operations Unit (SOU)
  • 1 officer to the Traffic unit

 

Patrol is the first pillar of local public safety.  They are on duty, in uniform 24/7/365.  Adding six officers to patrol puts more police on the streets in neighborhoods, responding to 911 calls and deterring crime. 

Pro-act.  This unit is made up of officers with different titles and functions.  They constantly supplement each other in order to accomplish the various functions.  Pro-act is part of the Special Investigations Unit, responsible for gang suppression, highway/downtown patrol, narcotics investigations and drug houses, neighborhood complaints of criminal activity, asset seizure management, adult business monitoring, and prostitution prevention enforcement. 

We have not had the “pro-act” portion of this unit since 2007.  Impacts of this force reduction include:  the unit’s response time to complaints were reduced, sometimes taking several weeks before a complaint can be evaluated.  In addition, the officers do not spend as much time on each complaint.  The current reduced size of the unit prohibits it from doing proactive, crime prevention activities, as well as operations like “John” stings.  Four more officers will restore the unit to a more effective group.

SOU (Special Operations Unit):  This unit of six police officers was created at the end of 2009 to address increasing violence in and around the Sound Transit Center in the downtown core.  A patrol shift (the fourth/”power” shift) was dissolved in order to provide staffing for this unit.  SOU was intended to provide bicycle patrol in the downtown core and City parks.  They established relationships with business owners and retailers in the area.  They work closely with the SafeCity program.  The presence of SOU resulted in a significant decrease of crime in the downtown core. 

The Costs of the proposed program are:

Salary + benefits for 13 police officers$1,275,378.  That is $98,106 per officer for the first year ($73,764 B-step salary + $24,342 benefits).  All entry-level officers are hired at A-step.  We chose a B-step average for this estimate because lateral officers are hired at a step commensurate with their years of law enforcement experience. 

Salary + benefits for two records specialists:  $126,386.  That is $45,792 yearly salary plus $17,401 benefits = $63,193 x 2 employees.

Equipment & uniforms + BLEA registration for entry officers:  $183,000.  $13,000 + $3,400 = $16,400 per officer.  $131,200 for 8 entry officers + $52,000 for 4 lateral officers

Hiring bonus:  $98,000.  Our proposed hiring bonus is $20,000 for lateral officers and $2,000 for entry-level officers.  Based on our normal hiring rates, we estimate four of the 13 may be laterals ($80,000) and nine will be entry ($18,000). 

Fully equipped patrol vehicle:  $962,000.  $74,000 each for 13 vehicles.  This includes the vehicle, FWPD markings, installation of police radio and other items, IT equipment, and police equipment.

The police department needs 15 more police vehicles (beyond the 13 listed above) to accommodate existing police staff.  Most of our comparable agencies have take-home cars.  This is an important issue for recruiting and retention.  We request those 15 vehicles here.  Total cost:  $1,110,000.

Finance Department Analysis and Recommendation.  Finance staff calculates the one-time vehicle and recruitment costs total $2,170,000 and on-going personnel and vehicle replacement expense at $1,660,764 per year (before inflation and other escalators which will be incorporated into 2022-23 budgeting).  As mentioned above, jail cost savings due partially to jails accepting fewer arrestees and judicial releases can actually help fund stronger policing in the short term.  We can’t control others’ policy decisions but we can leverage the funding opportunity in our policy response.

Funding is largely facilitated in the current budget cycle with:

  • 2021-2022 Jail Cost savings (budgeted in Police Department)
  • 2021-2022 PD Vacancy savings (already in Police Department budget)
  • 2021-2022 Sales Tax Revenue coming in favorable to budget – this will require a council-approved budget amendment

For the 2023-24 budget to be sustainable, the on-going staffing and vehicle replacement funding will have to be prioritized at approximately $1.6 million per year which will have to be a priority drawing upon General Fund revenue and against competing expenditures.  While forecasting is premature, we do know that our 2021 Sales Tax was forecast particularly cautiously during COVID and actuals are coming in favorably.

Current vacancies in 2021 being filled currently indicate that budgetary impact begins in 2022:

One-time recruiting and vehicle acquisition costs can be absorbed in the current budget cycle, funded from jail cost savings, current-year vacancies, and Sales Tax revenue. 

ARPA revenue is considered for the capital acquisition of vehicles, but ruled out for now, because of the on-going replacement budgeting. We could, however, pivot to ARPA, but a significant concern is perpetual replacement funding of an expanded fleet in future budgets.  Either way, feasibility depends on committing to prioritizing this in 2023-24 and future-year budgets.

 

For questions about this proposal, please contact the Mayor’s Office at (253) 835-2402.

 

XXX