Lynnwood Police Department facing 'devastating' budget cuts

Lynnwood police officials are preparing for cuts that would “decimate” the department.

That’s how Chief Steven Jensen described the situation last week to Lynnwood City Council members.

The City Council is starting the new budget phase with a possible shortfall of more than $20 million in 2011 and 2012. That number could get even bigger because the city still has to pay back money it borrowed to solve the deficit in the last budget cycle.

Police officials have been told to find $9 million in cuts. That’s almost 25 percent of their budget. Deputy Chief Karen Manser says reductions of that magnitude would be devastating.

“That eliminates almost every special program within the police department including narcotics, special operations, reserves, animal control and community services,” she told us. “Eliminating entire programs including the overhead and maintenance associated with them was the only way to reach the $9 million dollar figure.”

That would eliminate the police department’s popular volunteer program. Even patrol would take a hit under the proposal. Chief Jensen said patrol is going to be diminished so much “we really should evaluate whether or not we have a police department,” he told the Council. “I ain’t shocked about much, but I’m shocked about the impact on this police department.”

Under the current proposal, Lynnwood would lose 25 out of 80 officers (five of those positions are already or will soon be vacant.) They’ll also lose 10 out of 34 civilian positions and eight out of 10 part-time positions.

The front desk would have regular business hours instead of being open around the clock. Even jail alternative programs such as home detention and community services would be reduced.

Part of the problem, Deputy Chief Manser says, is that Lynnwood relies too heavily on sales tax revenue.

“Finance directors that have worked for the city in the past all individually recommended a more diverse tax base so the city would be more stable. That diversification was never accomplished,” she said.

Deputy Chief Manser says they were only advised by the mayor of the potential shortfalls two weeks ago. “We had obviously been expecting to have the conversation about the decline in revenues and the inability to support the current levels of service for the 2011-2012 budget, but we had no idea what the actual number was going to be.”

Other departments, including fire, are also facing major budget cuts that will dramatically change their level of service.

Expect to hear much more about this over the next few months. The new budget must be approved in December.

  1. Lynnwood already has one of the largest police departments in the country with an 11 to 1 ratio of residents to cops. They need to go on a funding diet. They focus more on traffic revenue collecting than real crimes anyway. No ticket that Lynnwood police shy about writing.

  2. @Kingwabbit – Lynnwood has 80 officer positions and the city has roughly 36,000 residents. That's a 450 to 1 ratio.

  3. Those traffic camera serve as a big screw you to anyone wanting to come into Lynnwood. I won't buy anything in that town because of those stupid cameras.

    There is nothing in Lynnwood that I can't find someplace else.

  4. The Lynnwood police department needs a house cleaning. I have witnessed their officers lie and have no respect, regard or even care. Arrogance is their only characteristic, good riddens to bad garbage.

  5. I think it is pretty funny that people complain about the traffic cameras, which don't impact anyone driving legally in the town. Stop running red lights, stop speeding, and stop before turning, and you wont get any tickets. Learn to drive people.

    They also complain about them as revenue generators, which must not be working that well, seeing as this article is about a budget shortfall.

    Lynnwood does have a huge police force, but not “11 to 1”, as you can do some simple math from the above article (80 total officers, at 11 to 1, would mean Lynnwood has a population of 880), when in reality, you can take Lynnwood's population (34,000) and find that Lynnwood has an officer to person ratio of about 1 to 425.

    Anybody else want to make something up to complain about?

  6. Lynnwood cops give out waaay too many traffic tickets. Use speed/redlight cameras for those and concentrate on the real criminals. Also, try raising property values in Lynnwood by getting rid of the welfare class….it might help.

  7. Jim Smith warned everybody about this. Gough, Hikel and the rest of the incompetent government needs the boot. You need cuts? How about $600,ooo for the p.r. department? And I guess they were wrong about the $20 million on redoing the pool and rec center. But don`t wait to hear them say they were wrong.

  8. Maybe now they will focus on real crimes instead of harrassing bikini baristas, must arrest domestic disturbance calls and using full SWAT units to serve warrants.

  9. I avoid Lynnwood. Why go there. Their main source of income is red light cameras. Hey, I'm sure in the last 10 years, the Police have become bloated, buying all the latest toys, racking up overtime for security/terrorism that is non-existant. Let them do with less. Boo hoo.

  10. Boo freaking hoo, I avoid Lynnwood like the plague. There police force is a bunch of overpaid jerks. I have two family members in law enforcement and they both agree that Lynnwood uses there police force to line there coffers. Try not picking on your tax paying residents and start solving some real crimes. Lynnwood get your priorities straight!

  11. Does anybody heard if Lynnwood police cracked down any criminals in the last few years? I haven't herd. May be no need for such a big department?

  12. Me Me

    I can solve the problem.

    Step 1. Cut all city government salaries 30%, like I did to my employees.
    Step 2. Cut 30 % of all staff, like I did to my employees.
    Step 3. Drop health care benefits, like I did to my employees.
    Step 4. Cut pension payments to retired city workers by 40% (Sorry, my private sector employees don't get pensions)
    Step 5. Cut Mayor and City council salaries 80%, like I did to myself.
    Step 6. Cut all unneccesary expenses. Buy cheaper products. Like I did.

    Voila! You to can balance your budget. It's easy to do.

    Stop spending money you don't have.

  13. We have the small crime rate I would think BECAUSE of the Police Department we have. I can only see the crime rate going up as the Department is reduced.

  14. 11 to 1 ratio. Please. That would be impossible. You would need 2000 police officers for that. These comments are just stupid!

  15. You or a family member must have been arrested before by Lynnwood Police. It is obvious that you hate all police. Just wait until your City turns into a crime infested ghetto. We will see if you are whining then.

  16. Are your family members actually police officers or security guards? I wish police all over the country would walk off the job for a couple of days and watch everything go to hell in a handbasket. You whiners would be so busy trying to protect your crap that you would not have time to complain about those “terrible” police officers. Washington State has been populated by the developmentally disabled. Help us!!!!!

  17. Finally someone who actually understands “cause and effect”. Police presence=less crime. Simple equation.

    1. Love to read all your comments to the losers that whine in the comments section. Keep up the good work. I assume that you were in the military and if so, Thank you for your service.

  18. Thank God Ido not work for you. How many of your employees are Americans. Do you check their papers?

  19. You obviously don't have much experience with Lynnwood's system of “justice”. Sometimes you get trapped by traffic and are unable to exit the intersection in time. My daughter was cited for failing to slow down quickly enough when entering a school zone. The point is that they ticket everyone they snap a photo of, and LOTS of them were driving every bit as well as you do.

  20. I live in Vancouver,Wa,and can remember the frist time I drove into Lynnwood.I was taking my son to court for a traffic ticket.It was a shocked to see so many cameras,I instantly felt fear,and became overly cautious,more concerned about driving perfectly.I can remember driving thru one green light,and a light flashed, and thought don’t want to be here long.I even called the police dept to talk about the incident.Is there so much crime in Lynnwood to justify those cams…?I want the police around,but feel the money could be better spent on inforcing other crime..How did we ever get  alone without those cams,feel we’re not trusted.I can also remember going to lunch at the same place as the Judge and friends,got the feeling we were not the same,they were better human beings,superior some how.It’s a well put together money machine.They do have the best of everything,cars wages.My son received three days in jail,the food was barely enough,a good place if you want to lose weight.All in all a strong police force,but the cams are a bit much.These are just my feelings..

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