Everett Police Department (Sue Misao / Herald file)

Everett Police Department (Sue Misao / Herald file)

Everett adding new downtown security, possibly more officers

The Everett City Council last week approved using $187,500 to contract with a security company to patrol downtown.

EVERETT — Everett city leadership hope to address the perception of an unsafe city with new security patrolling downtown and nine more police officers potentially hired next year.

Last week, the City Council approved using $187,500 in county American Rescue Plan Act funds to contract with a security company to monitor downtown. The city has not named a specific security company it would hire. The county’s Human Services Department is granting the city the money.

Meanwhile, Mayor Cassie Franklin’s 2024 budget proposal contains an almost $2 million additional investment in the police department. This year the department’s operating budget totaled over $42 million, according to city records.

Most of the new money wouldn’t be coming from the city’s coffers, though. Franklin’s plan includes money for nine new cops, seven of whom would mostly be funded by the $6 million federal Community Oriented Policing Services grant the council approved in 2020. This is the last year the city can use that money, Franklin said at a council committee meeting last week.

The other two would be replacing officers assigned to the state’s recently established regional police training academy in Skagit County. The academy will pay their salaries for the next two years.

The mayor’s proposal also includes a “wellness coordinator” to support police, a public disclosure specialist for the department and $90,000 for a hiring program.

The mayor will present her final budget proposal to the council later this month.

In an email Thursday, police spokesperson Ora Hamel said the department supports the mayor’s budget request and “we welcome any additional resources.”

She added “these additional resources would help us respond for emergency services as well as other community needs.”

The council voted on the security funding without any fanfare last Wednesday. All members — with the exception of Liz Vogeli, who wasn’t there — voted in favor. The money will last about six months, according to a city estimate.

Little information about the security plans was available. Council documents describe “increased patrols” around shelters and “other high impact areas” downtown, noting “areas of focus will include businesses and residential areas that have been negatively impacted by the supplemental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

City spokesperson Simone Tarver couldn’t give any further details, writing in an email Wednesday that the city is “in the process of finalizing all the logistics.”

Hamel said the security “would be managed outside of the Police Department, but we will maintain close coordination with them once the contract is up and going.”

The plan to increase security follows another big public safety push from the city earlier this year.

In May, the council expanded a 2021 law to allow the mayor to designate new zones in which sitting or lying down is forbidden. Proponents of the so-called “no sit, no lie” ordinance argue the zones benefit public safety and can be used to point people toward resources.

Franklin established two new zones in July, covering large areas in northern downtown and south Everett.

The creation of the new zones coincided with increased police presence on the street.

Tarver said the timing of the security funding was unrelated to the “no sit” expansion.

Sophia Gates: 425-339-3035; sophia.gates@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @SophiaSGates.

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