Police chief: officer staffing approaching ‘critical levels’

Last year, as the city grappled with a $22 million budget shortfall, every department faced major cutbacks and potential layoffs. The Lynnwood Police Department was no exception, and several officers looked for work elsewhere rather than being laid off.

Now, Police Chief Steven Jensen and the Lynnwood Police Guild are expressing concerns over the number of officers on the force.

In a memo to the City Council, Jensen said they lost nine sworn positions and several more officers to other jurisdictions during the budget process. He said they are down 15 police officers and one custody officer, plus civilian staff.

“This level of attrition has resulted in significant losses in all areas of the department. Staffing is quickly approaching critical levels impacting public and officer safety,” Jensen said.

Officer Mark Brinkman, president of the police union, echoed Jensen’s concerns. In his own letter to city officials, Brinkman said Lynnwood officers were already highest in the state for calls per officer even before the budget cuts.

“It is by pure chance that calls for service have dropped slightly so as to not completely overwhelm patrol officers. Even so, many calls which should be a two officer minimum response are being handled by a solo officer,” Brinkman said.

This past December, the City Council balanced the budget through a combination of cuts and higher taxes. But Officer Brinkman said the tax increases are not maintaining the level of service for which they were intended.

“The citizens of Lynnwood have a right to know that the largest tax increases in the history of Lynnwood have given them the largest cuts to public safety in the history of Lynnwood,” Brinkman said.

A City Council committee will start discussions on the issue at a meeting Wednesday night.

“Some members of the City Council are concerned that police staffing levels are near a critical level.  Deterioration of public safety accumulates over time, not necessarily all at once,” Councilman and Committee Chair Jim Smith said.  “We cannot allow the overspending that has taken place by the city throughout these last several years to erode the safety and well being of our citizens and businesses.”

  1. less  Police, I like that!!

    all they do is harass the public, they don’t even know how to correctly talk to the citizens they serve!

    I am all for having less Police and less traffic cameras, I don’t even go to Lynwood anymore, because of those stupid red light scam cameras!

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