2021 wasn't a good year for police agencies around the state of Washington including in Yakima. The Washington Legislature last year passed a series of police reform laws that forced many officers to make tough decisions, continue under the new laws or retire or resign. Many decided to retire early or resign positions.

Yakima Police and County Sheriff's both lost officers and deputies

19 officers left the Yakima Police Department. The Yakima County Sheriff's Office is down more than 20 Deputies.
The new laws among other things now require police to have probable cause, as opposed to reasonable suspicion before using force. Local authorities say that one new law, among many others has changed the way they've responded to calls.

Finding officers and deputies to replace those who left won't be easy

Yakima Police Capt. Jay Seely says replacing the officers won't be an easy task since the mandatory state academy only takes a handful of officers from departments all around the state each year. Departments have been advised that the current waiting times are up to 7 months. Seely says they hope to attract more lateral officers this year. Lateral officers are those who are currently working in other departments and would already be qualified as full-time officers if hired in Yakima.

The city is now paying officers overtime to help cover the city

Seely says YPD continues to maintain city coverage, but they are relying heavily on overtime. Currently the department has 112 full-time officers who can be deployed on the streets of Yakima, but they're budgeted for 143 officers. The department has an additional 19 officers who are employed but unable to police the streets due to the fact that they are awaiting academy training and others are on various long-term disabilities.

Don't miss our conversation on Thursday, February 3 on KIT

Don't miss our conversation Thursday morning with Yakima County Sheriff Bob Udell and Union Gap Police Chief Greg Cobb. We'll be talking about the reform laws and what lawmakers are doing this year to correct some laws passed last year.

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