September 27, 2012 |

Airway Heights council briefed on upgrades for Police Department

Assets from shared agency cases help fund new equipment

By JAMES EIK

Staff Reporter

Upgrades for the city's police department equipment dominated discussion at Airway Heights' City Council work session Monday, Sept. 25.

After receiving funds from a shared assets case with the FBI and Washington State Patrol in 2010, the city's Police Department had $271,105.62 to invest in upgrades to fight crime. Among the items pursued by Police Chief Lee Bennett include three new vehicles, handguns, Tasers and threat-level entry body armor.

“It's fortunate we had the money to buy them,” Bennett said.

Two patrol cars, both 2001 Crown Victorias, have been plagued by almost weekly repair sessions to help patch them up for duty. A third vehicle, a truck, would help haul equipment for the department's detective.

In the realm of equipment upgrades, Bennett said some handguns were coming to their life's end. Officers currently only use a second-generation Glock pistol. Included with the purchase are holsters, magazines and pouches, which come with 16 Glocks and 10 Sig Sauers the department is pursuing.

Using shared assets money from the aforementioned 2010 case, Airway Heights will purchase newer Glocks in addition to the Sig Sauer p22, with which some officers are more familiar.

“A lot of guys aren't as comfortable with the Glock,” Bennett said.

Tasers are also due for an upgrade, as the department currently uses the older M26 model. Newer models have more features and tend to be a bit more reliable than their predecessors. The entire catalogue of Tasers would be replaced with the purchase, which comes in at $24,112, averaging $1,100 for each weapon.

“When one goes down, we have to buy a new one,” Bennett said of the department's current model.

Threat-level entry body armor purchases will total $22,400, and protect officers against more dangerous weapons. Bennett said officers currently wear soft armor, which covers handguns, but don't have protection for higher threats. Vests weigh around 40 pounds, and thus aren't meant for everyday wear.

Eight vests will be purchased, each individually fit for each officer.

The City Council will hold a public hearing at its Monday, Oct. 15 meeting regarding the 2013 general expense fund. City clerk-treasurer Richard Cook said the fund is currently short about $55,000. The city is receiving more property tax from its annexation earlier this year, but will only receive 10 months of tax revenues for 2012.

Cook said the city's revenue from property taxes will increase by $6,974, based on the 1 percent increase passed by voters.

At the Oct. 1 meeting, council members will hear from Spokane Emergency Management's Tom Mattern regarding the organization's annual emergency management plan with the city. This year, the city's portion is $5,590, based on the population in Airway Heights.

The work session marked the second for the Airway Heights City Council, which looks to pass the second reading of an ordinance to formally set the new City Council meeting time at 5:30 p.m. and create the work session. Since its proposal, the work sessions have been labeled as special meetings.

James Eik can be reached at james@cheneyfreepress.com.

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