Kirkland police staffing for annexation transition on track, despite setbacks
By MATT PHELPS
Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor
July 13, 2010 · Updated 5:14 PM
The annexation of the Kingsgate, Finn Hill and North Juanita neighborhoods require many new services and increased staffing within the City of Kirkland. Arguably the most important is public safety.
The Kirkland Police Department (KPD) is continuing to hire new and lateral police officers to staff the area currently policed by the King County Sheriff's Department.
KPD spokesman Rob Saloum said that the hiring has been going well and that the department aims to hire 37 new or lateral officers for the annexation area transition.
"That doesn't mean that we will have 37 at the time of annexation, but the recruiting has been up lately and we are doing well," said Saloum.
The department hopes to have 18 fully trained officers at the time of annexation and Saloum said that the KPD "is on course."
During a special study session, in which city staff gave an update on all things annexation to the Kirkland City Council on July 6, Kirkland Assistant City Manager Marilynne Beard echoed those sentiments, telling the council that police officer recruitment was going "very well."
The KPD has hired five new officers, who are currently in the academy or have recently graduated.
Changes within the hiring process seem to be fluid as the agenda packet for the study session, released June 25, also voiced concerns about new hire officers being able to get the needed classes at the Police Academy due to budget cuts. But those issues have been resolved.
"We have five more starting the academy this week," said Saloum.
Training the officers after they graduate from the academy will also not be a problem, as the police department currently has two in-house training officers that "allow (the KPD) to complete this training without outside assistance," according to the agenda packet.
The KPD has also made two lateral hires, Tiffany Seimears, who most recently worked for the Des Moines Police for two years before being laid off due to budget cuts and Emily DePauw, who recently worked for the Decatur Illinois Police Department.
"We will have five or six more laterals coming in," said Saloum.
"We are right around 13 or 14 hires right now, but we also have to take into consideration that about 10-15 percent won't make it."
That attrition still leaves the KPD in good standing with goals for the annexation date of June 1, 2011.
The purchase of the My Home Wholesale building in the Totem Lake neighborhood for a new public safety building is moving forward. City staff is currently reviewing various reports, including an environmental assessment, third-party building inspection, geotechnical report and appraisal, on the building that must be done by July 31. The closing date for the sale is Sept. 1.
Design aspects of the building were discussed during the special session, including architectural specifications. For the location to be used as a public safety building, some structural issues may need to be resolved to bring the structure up to essential standards. The city may also look into altering the inner structure to give the building more square footage.
"If you think of the building it has a 100,000-square-foot footprint, but has quite a bit of height," said Beard. "You could put a second story in there, almost doubling the square footage of the building. We don't need that right now, but you have to put in the infrastructure now. We are going to take a quick look and see if that is cost effective at this point."Contact Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor Matt Phelps at email@example.com or 425-822-9166 ext. 5052.