Agreement would be for up to three months of policing
By Ann McCreary
The Town of Twisp would provide basic police patrol services to Winthrop, which currently has no police officers, for up to three months under a contract that is being drafted.
Under the proposed contract, Winthrop would pay $17,000 per month to Twisp to share a patrol officer for 10 hours a day, seven days a week, Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody said at a Twisp Town Council meeting Monday (March 27).
“We were requested by the [Winthrop] mayor to consider providing interim police protection,” Ing-Moody said.
Winthrop has been without any police officers since Feb. 22, after Mayor Anne Acheson fired Marshal Hal Henning due to disagreements over the marshal’s job performance. This is the latest gap in police protection for Winthrop, which has had problems retaining officers since 2013.
Ing-Moody told Twisp council members that she wanted to explain the basic terms of the contract before it is finalized and reviewed by the town’s attorney and sent to the Winthrop Town Council for consideration.
The contract provides only “basic patrol services during on-duty time,” and does not provide coverage for events or calls outside of regular patrol hours, Ing-Moody said.
“It’s not going to be emergency response at all times of day or night,” Ing-Moody said.
Twisp Police Chief Paul Budrow said officers will split their 10-hour patrol shifts between Twisp and Winthrop, and will be available to testify in municipal court in cases related to town violations.
Twisp’s police force grew from two officers to three officers this week after Stephen Purtell, who was hired as an entry-level officer last October, returned from four months of training at the state Law Enforcement Academy.
Purtell is a “field training officer” for approximately two months, and will be riding with Budrow and officer Ty Sheehan before he is able to begin working on his own.
The interim contract between Twisp and Winthrop will last a “maximum of three months,” because the shared patrol arrangement would not work during the busy summer season when visitors flood into the valley, Ing-Moody said.
“Things do change as summer commences for law enforcement, particularly for the upper valley,” she said.
“If we were going long-term,” said Budrow, “we would have to hire a minimum of one officer” to provide adequate police protection to Twisp and Winthrop during summer.
Council member John Fleming wondered about the chain of command under the contract with Winthrop, which has been plagued with conflicts between police and town officials. “Who will Chief Budrow report to?” Fleming asked.
“Chief Budrow will continue to report to me and me only,” Ing-Moody said.
Fleming also wondered, under the contract, “Is Twisp losing anything?”
“There is additional risk and liability to provide service to another town,” Ing-Moody said. “This is a service, I want to make that very clear. We’re doing the best we can to assist without compromising our services.”
Budrow said the shared patrol arrangement would mean “more time in the car” as officers drive between Twisp and Winthrop and less time on foot in the community. “It changes the way we do our job in town,” Budrow said.
The basic patrol services that would be provided under the contract to Winthrop “will get them covered so the mayor’s constituents feel they have some law enforcement out there,” Budrow said. “It’s just to get … them coverage until they hire” new officers.
Mayor Acheson of Winthrop said last week that the town will continue to search for candidates to fill the two positions in the marshal’s office. She said Winthrop might also consider a merger with the Twisp police department, an idea that has been discussed in the past.