Twisp plan calls for four officers, split costs
By Don Nelson
The Town of Twisp has developed a proposal for merging its police department with the Winthrop Marshal’s Office, an idea that the towns have contemplated in the past.
Twisp’s proposal will be discussed at the Winthrop Town Council meeting on Wednesday (Oct. 21), which begins at 7 p.m. in the Hen House room of the Winthrop Barn.
The most-recent exploration of the merger issue followed the resignation of former Winthrop Marshal Rikki Schwab in July. A deputy had left the department earlier in the year, leaving the department with just one officer, Deputy Ken Bajema, after Schwab’s departure.
The Marshal’s office has only been sporadically at full force the past couple of years. After Schwab’s resignation, Winthrop Mayor Sue Langdalen and Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody began discussions about the possibility of merging the two departments. Twisp currently has two full-time officers, Chief Paul Budrow and officer Ty Sheehan.
Budrow’s proposed merger plan, presented at last week’s Twisp Town Council meeting, calls for a 50-50 split of total expenses and a total of four police officers. Also included in the proposal are funds for police clerks and for temporary officers who are hired when necessary. Out of a proposed 2016 budget of $577,923 for a merged force, about 71 percent — $409,393 — would be for employee salaries and benefits.
Not included in the proposal, because they differ for each town, are jail fees, vehicle debt service, court costs and emergency management fees. Winthrop would continue to own its two relatively new police vehicles.
Budrow said this week that the plan would include maintaining the Marshal’s office in Winthrop as a sub-station. He said the proposal anticipates eventually expanding the combined force to five officers.
Ing-Moody told the Twisp council that she and Langdalen had agreed that a merger “could work conceptually,” with details to be worked out.
“We thought long and hard about how many officers we could afford and what would work,” Ing-Moody said. “We approached it from the standpoint of being one community” to reach a “fair and mindful projection of costs.”
Meanwhile, Winthrop has begun advertising to fill its two vacancies in case a merger doesn’t work out.
The two towns have a mutual aid agreement that allows police officers to respond to calls in each other’s communities.