Pinched by a budget that won’t allow its special operations team to meet national training recommendations, the Kirkland Police Department is on the verge of joining six other jurisdictions on the regional North Sound Metro SWAT team.
The City Council heard a proposal from KPD on Jan. 15 about an inter-local agreement that would allow the department to join those from Lynnwood, Edmonds, Monroe, Bothell, Mountlake Terrace and Lake Forest Park on the team, which formed last year.
The council had some questions about how any unspent money budgeted for KPD’s participation in North Sound Metro SWAT would be handled, and a vote on the proposal was postponed. But the council is expected to take up the plan again next month.
The department says joining the team will give it the resources to better resolve safely dangerous situations such as hostage situations, armed barricaded suspects, school shootings and serving high risk warrants.
KPD’s proposal notes that Kirkland would lend the North Sound Metro team expertise it does not have now in crisis negotiations. At the same time, the team will provide resources that Kirkland does not now have, such as a tactical robot and an armored car.
“The concept is good. You pool resources for this stuff, which is highly technical,” said City Councilman Dave Asher, a member of the council’s Public Safety Committee. “It’s spreads the cost and capability. This is one way we can strive for regional efficiency.”
The Kirkland Police Department currently maintains a part-time special ops team that includes a special response unit and a crisis negotiation team. Members of the teams are trained and equipped, but the department’s budget does not allow it to meet the recommendations of national and state tactical associations, which include higher training and deployment standards. The two most difficult standards to achieve include one 40-hour continuous training week and 24 individual days of training a year as well as staffing a minimum of 24 officers.
Joining the North Sound Metro team would allow the department to meet its training mandates immediately. Kirkland members would have the opportunity to take on supervisory roles on the team, and Kirkland Police Chief Eric Olsen would serve on the North Sound Metro board.
For details, see the attached PDF file of the proposal to the City Council.
What do you think? Is Kirkland a big enough city now to need a full special ops capability? Please tell us in the comments box below.