With Lake Stevens’ population having nearly doubled last year, its police force is doubling as well.
The city hired nine police officers in 2006, and three more are scheduled to come onboard April 1, Police Chief Randy Celori said.
The number of calls for police service went from 250 per day to more than 500, Celori said.
Two neighborhoods joined Lake Stevens in 2006. Frontier Village includes the commercial shopping area west of the lake and brought 3,686 people. And the Northlake area just north of the lake brought 2,465 people.
The annexations bumped the city’s total population from 7,185 to 13,336, city administrator Jan Berg said.
The new hires will bring the number of commissioned police officers from 10 to 22. A traffic officer and a detective are scheduled to be hired in June, bringing the total to 24.
Also, two records clerks are being added, and a code enforcement-animal control officer is expected to be hired by the end of the year.
The department’s budget increased from $1.4 million at the beginning of 2006 to $2.8 million this year.
The city is hiring the new officers out of a reserve and borrowing from other funds, Berg said. That money can be replaced when tax revenue from Frontier Village becomes available in June.
There’s no indication crime has risen in any of the areas from before, Celori said. The call load is higher in the busy commercial area of Frontier Village than in the rest of the city, he said. Shoplifting, vehicle break-ins, vehicle thefts and commercial burglaries are more common there.
The Soper Hill area west of the city and its 600 residents are scheduled to become part of Lake Stevens in mid-May. No officers will be added specifically for that area, Celori said, but any annexations beyond that will likely require more police, he said.
The city plans to eventually annex all the way around the lake and to the west. About 46,000 people currently live within the city limits and the potential annexation area combined, Berg said.
All the officers are still based at the city’s police station at 2211 Grade Road, but response times have remained quick, Celori said.
The Safeway store at Frontier Village has offered free space for officers to fill out paperwork without having to return to the station on the other side of the lake, he said. He expects the space to be ready within a week.
Mayor Vern Little credited Celori with a thorough job in making the case for more officers.
“He did a really good job of laying it out and why he needed what he needed,” Little said.
Reporter Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439 or firstname.lastname@example.org.