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SWAT: Kirkland Police Department Might Join North Sound Metro Team

The North Sound Metro SWAT team formed last year and would bring capabilities that are not available to Kirkland now, such as a tactical robot and armored car. The City Council is expected to vote on the plan next month.

 

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.

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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.

Op/Ed Jed January 29, 2013 at 08:00 PM
Yes, pooling resources can be beneficial but other questions arise. • what is Kirkland’s historical need for a SWAT unit? • what types of situations & how often have units been deployed? • Kirkland now has 11 SWAT team members. Does it need 11 based on 20/20 hindsight? The projection is to reach 8. Is anyone charged with watching to see if that happens? The implication is $ will be saved by reaching 8 through ‘attrition & promotion,’ but how much does cost of promotion impact that comparison? • what is the historical account of budgets for the regional operation? has the budget increased each year and by how much? • what have overtime costs been with each current participating city? • if each city shares equally in paying for successful lawsuits waged for negligent activity, then the actions of officers from six other cities could potentially cost us. The argument that current budgets don't allow the dept. to meet standards -- set by an org. that defines standards in its own self interest -- doesn't do much for me. My personal budget limits what I can get done around the home but I don't have taxing authority to up the ante. I suppose the neighbors can collectively pitch in to get a tactical robot. 64 copies of George Orwell's 1984 are available at the King Co. Library. “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” - Ben Franklin
Greg Johnston (Editor) January 29, 2013 at 08:25 PM
'What is the historical account of budgets for the regional operation? has the budget increased each year and by how much?' Jed, the team formed just last year.
Op/Ed Jed January 30, 2013 at 05:31 AM
Missed that part. Thanks.
Greg Johnston (Editor) February 01, 2013 at 05:15 PM
FYI, this item is on the Kirkland City Council's agenda for its meeting on Tuesday night: http://www.kirklandwa.gov/depart/council/agendas/agenda020513.htm

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