By SVERRE BAKKE
The Bingen-White Salmon Police Department and the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office have entered into a memorandum of understanding that allows the local department “to utilize the services of off-duty Skamania County Sheriff’s deputies” for law enforcement in the cities of White Salmon and Bingen.
White Salmon’s City Council approved the two-page memorandum of understanding during its June 6 meeting. The interlocal agreement between police agencies will become effective when Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown signs off. The agreement will run through the end of 2012 but may be extended by agreement of the parties.
“I would anticipate the MOU could be in effect within the next 7 to 10 days,” Brown said in an e-mail reply on Monday that also noted, “This is an agreement that approves, but does not require, off-duty Skamania County deputies to work for the Bingen-White Salmon Police Department. The arrangements for compensation and scheduling will be the responsibility of the B-WSPD.” (Because deputies will be working for the B-WSPD in their off hours, a separate agreement with the Skamania County Law Enforcement Guild is not required.)
City Administrator Patrick Munyan Jr. told The Enterprise last Friday that he contacted Klickitat County Sheriff Rick McComas first about using off-duty KCSO deputies to provide supplemental police coverage in Bingen and White Salmon, under contract as B-WSPD officers, but said the sides could not reach a mutually acceptable agreement. (The contract officers will work those hours not covered by B-WSPD’s three fully commissioned officers and one reserve officer.)
Citing “the potential for unforeseen liabilities which we may be unable to mitigate if sheriff deputies function in a similar law enforcement position for the B-WSPD,” McComas informed Munyan in an e-mail dated June 1, “Regarding your request to allow ’off duty employment’ of sheriff deputies to the...Bingen-White Salmon Police Department, I am unable to authorize secondary employment of sheriff deputies. In no way should my decision reflect unwillingness to serve any citizen of Klickitat County or provide emergency backup to the B-WSPD officers.”
In the alternative, McComas proposed that the city contract with KCSO directly to allow deputies “to supplement only those hours of coverage needed” at a cost of approximately $55 an hour.
Munyan turned down McComas’ counter-proposal because of the cost and turned to Brown “with the same terms I discussed with Klickitat County.” Brown was agreeable to working something out as long as it did not conflict with the operations of his department.
“The reason I agreed to the arrangement is largely due to the fact that the cities are in desperate need of law enforcement coverage, there are a number of deputies who have an interest and a desire to help them fill the vacancies on a short-term basis, and it appears to be a solution that is beneficial to both parties,” Brown said. “I’m confident the MOU provides the B-WSPD with the manpower they need and reserves our ability to retain or call out deputies for incidents that occur in Skamania County requiring more manpower than a normal shift can cover.”
Under the terms of the agreement, “[Fully commissioned SCSO] Deputies will be available during their scheduled off-duty time to provide law enforcement coverage within the jurisdiction of the Bingen-White Salmon Police Department. Deputies will not utilize Skamania County vehicles or uniforms while performing services for the BWSPD with exception of duty belt and vest.”
Moreover, BWSPD agreed to be responsible for all wages and labor insurance associated with the provision of police services; to reimburse Skamania County for the full cost (including mileage) of deputies who are required to attend court within Klickitat County during an assigned shift in Skamania County; to replace any county equipment damaged during provision of city police services; and to provide a weekly patrol schedule to a Skamania County patrol sergeant so conflicts in scheduling can be avoided.
The new contractual relationship with SCSO will help ensure the short-handed BWSPD — which currently has three full-time officers and one reserve — can fulfill its law enforcement obligations to the two communities it serves.
“We’re going to contract like we are until we have a new chief in place, and we’ll let the new chief hire the people who are qualified to be officers,” Munyan said, and noted that he has been very impressed with the Skamania Sheriff’s Office and its personnel. “Long term, the goal is for our police department to have the same reputation Skamania County has.”
In the meantime, the city has begun working on the form of a new police chief contract. Munyan said the new contract includes well-defined job requirements (which the city reserves the right to add to at any time), as well as criteria for evaluating the chief’s job performance and for termination of the contract “for cause.” Another key change decreases the “30-day cure period” for a wayward employee to 10 days.
“The city can’t take another hit like this last one,” Munyan said, referring to Mayor David Poucher’s May 23 termination of the city’s employment contract with Tony Domish, which left the city obligated to pay the former police chief $35,000 in severance. Domish was dismissed “without cause” after less than a year in the job.
Last week the City Council approved a change in White Salmon’s police services contract with Bingen that will help speed up the process of hiring a new police chief, by taking that process out of the hands of the Bingen-White Salmon Civil Service Commission.