Asotin police chief responds to county’s policing suggestion

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After a heated discussion over budget issues at Tuesday’s Asotin town hall, county commissioners are responding. The response comes after a proposal regarding understaffing in the police department. Asotin Police Chief Monte Renzelman spoke about what the county’s approach could look like.

Asotin County Commissioner Chris Seubert answered the city’s proposal. The idea, a full takeover of the Asotin Police Department by the Asotin County Sheriff’s Office. And while it would likely save the city money in both the short and long run, Police Chief said a county takeover isn’t always the best for a small town.

The city of Asotin’s budget is extremely tight, and so is the Asotin Police Department’s. Right now, the police budget is around $320,000.

“For a department, that’s not much when you’re talking about wages of $40,000 to $50,000 a year and then you have your benefits,” Chief Renzelman said.

Renzelman has already had to make a 40% cut to save the city money. “We went down to bare bone minimum,” he said. “That was our last year process, to get it to where we can function this year.”

He said benefits have already been taken away. But even through all that he said there are benefits to keeping the city of Asotin blue instead of going green.

“I can see a difference that I’m making,” Renzelman said. “I’m not going call to call to call on calls that I’m not really making a difference, I’m just a glorified statation.”

He says it’s because he can build a rapport with citizens. “I can go up to a resident that I’ve got a complaint on and have a first name basis and ‘hey Johnny you know we can talk about this’ and have a conversation,” said Renzelman.

Renzelman does admit that there are benefits to a county takeover. “Something hot going on in Asotin, now there’s resources that can come as well,” he explained.

Renzelman said no matter what happens with negotiations’, there will be a change in the way Asotin is patrolled. But to him…only one thing matters. “We have to make sure that peoples safety is met.”

The negotiations are still in the early stages. The county has responded to the city’s proposal. Now it’s the city’s turn to continue those negotiations.

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