Wilson expressed those sentiments during his Second Quarter Update at the City Council’s work/study session Thursday night in the Council Chambers.
The first bit of news, however, was regarding a title change for Assistant Chief Pete Caw. Wilson told the Council that the Civil Service Commission granted his request that Caw’s title be changed to Deputy Chief to better reflect his duties and responsibilities in the Police Department.
Wilson noted that the Department has four openings for commissioned personnel. Backgrounds are being checked for three potential hires, who could come aboard in the next couple of months.
Mountlake Terrace is experiencing 11.49 percent increased calls for service as compared to last year at this time. Overall, Mountlake Terrace accounts for 10.49 percent of the calls to SnoCom.
The City is averaging 35 calls a day and is ahead of last year’s numbers (6374 vs. 5717). As far as traffic stops, the City is down by 6 percent but Wilson attributed that to have to reassign a traffic officer, who has since been returned to traffic duty.
Of the 4180 traffic stops, Mountlake Terrace Police issued 2270 citations. So the idea that Police are writing everyone up is false.
“The goal of traffic enforcement is to change people’s behavior,” Wilson said.
The City is experiencing an increase in property crime. The second quarter totals are 351 reports as compared to last year’s 274. Larceny/theft are up to 223 from 163 and auto thefts are up to 63 from 38 (2014 to 2013).
The Police attribute the rise in these crimes to the rise in the use of heroin and other narcotics. People who suffer from substance abuse often steal to finance their habit. These problems are not unique to Mountlake Terrace. The state and the rest of the nation are dealing with similar issues, Caw said.
In large part due to enforcement and traffic engineering, Mountlake Terrace averages .8 collisions a day, according to Wilson.
“Our roads are safe,” he said.
The Police Department continues to be a strong presence in terms of code enforcement.
“We’re improving the image of the City through code enforcement,” Wilson said.
In a separate presentation, Caw detailed what appears to be an inevitable increase in the costs of incarceration for Mountlake Terrace and other cities.
The well-publicized problems of the Snohomish County Jail means that booking restrictions are being implemented. When certain population numbers, including special inmates (medical/mental), the jail implements booking restrictions. Snohomish County will only book certain crimes, such as felonies, domestic violence and harassment crimes.
Caw said that persons identified as needing mental health/medical care will account for the largest increase in costs in the coming years. An estimate is that by 2017 daily housing for mental health/medical health care inmates will be $137-$223.25 per day.
The City contracts with the Lynnwood Jail but Lynnwood has a small jail and its costs will rise too. Mountlake Terrace could book people in King County but logistical problems discourage that. The City has contracts with Yakima and Okanogan counties that reduce costs but Mountlake Terrace cannot book a person in Yakima/Okanogan for a crime committed in Snohomish County. People can be kept in those jails if they are sentenced for a crime in Snohomish County.
There are some initial discussions among Snohomish County cities about building a regional jail similar to the one in Kent but that would be several years away.
– By David Pan