Police training and public safety issues were among the top discussion topics Tuesday as the Olympia City Council moved one step closer to adopting its 2016 operating budget.
The Olympia Police Department is requesting $231,500 for training programs in 2016, including $16,500 for “fair and impartial policing” for the entire staff. That training is scheduled for three days in April, said Chief Ronnie Roberts.
Fair and impartial policing training is intended to address racial biases that exist on a subconscious level and influence officers’ perceptions. Roberts said he hopes the training can spread beyond the Police Department to the rest of the city.
“We want to bring a couple of community members in that training with us,” Roberts told the council, referencing public demand for such training. “It’s a necessary thing, certainly in light of today’s environment.”
Other proposed police training programs involve leadership and critical incident training. Much of that training is necessary because of the number of retiring supervisors and new officers, Roberts said. According to the proposed budget, the Police Department expects to hire five to eight new officers in 2016.
The city also will devote $60,000 to the nighttime downtown walking patrol in 2016. Just like this year, the nighttime patrol will be active between May and Dec. 31.
Downtown business owners have asked the council to keep the nighttime patrol on duty all year long. However, the projected cost to fund the nighttime patrol from January through December is $10,000 a month. Councilman Jim Cooper noted that $60,000 went toward the nighttime walking patrol in 2015 and that the patrol was active almost eight months.
When it comes to implementing the use of body cameras for police, Cooper said the council is expected to receive recommendations in 2016 from the city’s Ad Hoc Committee on Policing and Community Relations. The committee has been charged with seeking input on how to implement the cameras.
“We really don’t have any numbers to put to it yet,” said Cooper, who is on the city’s finance committee.
The final city budget is slated for adoption Dec. 15. The proposed 2016 budget is about $128.7 million and can be viewed online at olympiawa.gov.