For about three years, the Olympia Police Department has not contributed a salaried detective to the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force due to budget constraints, but that all changes on April 1.
Money from a local public safety sales tax hike passed by Olympia voters in November, 2012 will pay for the OPD's contribution of a detective to the local drug task force starting in April, OPD spokeswoman Laura Wohl said.
Thurston County Narcotics Task Force Supervisor Capt. Dave Johnson said "absolutely" OPD's restoration of a detective to the drug task force will help fight narcotics trafficking, and in particular, heroin dealers, in downtown Olympia.
The sales tax increase passed by voters in 2012 amounts to an extra penny on every $10 of taxable spending. Wohl said Friday that the city has only now collected enough extra revenue from the sales tax increase to restore OPD's detective to the drug task force.
OPD ended its contribution of a detective to the drug task force in early 2011
The Thurston County Narcotics Task Force currently includes two detectives from the Thurston County Sheriff's Office, and one detective each from the Lacey Police Department, the Tumwater Police Department, the Washington State Patrol and the Chehalis Tribal Police Department.
The task force's full-time supervisor, Capt. Johnson, is also employed by the Thurston County Sheriff's Office, bringing the TCSO's total number of paid staff on the drug task force to three. Additionally, the drug task force is staffed part time by an agent with the Drug Enforcement administration.
Wohl said Tuesday that in addition to the restored detective to the drug task force, the Olympia Police Department also has used funds from the sales tax increase to add a second police officer who works full-time on downtown walking patrols. The additional of a second walking patrol officer means that downtown Olympia is covered by a downtown patrol officer, either on foot or on bike seven days a week during daytime hours, Wohl said.
Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445 firstname.lastname@example.org