Recently the North Coast Citizen received a letter to the editor by Rockaway Beach budget committee member David May, regarding some harsh criticisms fielded toward the Rockaway Beach Police Department and their apparent usurpation of 45 percent of the city’s General Fund, delving further into the topic it appears its not as sinister as it may sound.
By Brian Cameron
“Tillamook County crime statistics have increased greatly in recent years, and that is also the situation in our city,” said Lars Gare, City Manager, Rockaway Beach. “In recognition of that fact the city council made the decision to increase police staffing several years ago.”
According to Gare the city has a full-time, certified and commissioned Police Department manning four officers who are charged with civil protection and general law enforcement. The city council approved and authorized that particular staffing level for the yearly budget which equated to 45 percent of the General Fund, the amount has been approved for the 2017-2018 budget.
The first few discussions about the matter were held during the initial talks that addressed the 2016-2017 budget in the April budget committee meeting. At that meeting Fire Chief Mammano pointed out the discrepancies between general funding for the fire department in comparison to the police department and reasoned that there appeared to be too many vehicles for the size of the city.
In addition to Mammano’s comparison, committee member David May expressed concern at the time over perceived misuse of the funds on things like aftermarket wheels, tires, overtime and other expenses. May brought the same issues to the public view recently by means of a letter to the editor.
“The wheels and tires were purchased for an unmarked police vehicle and have worked out pretty well,” said Chief Charlie Stewart, Rockaway Beach Police Department. “So well, in fact, that I have had the license plate checked twice by other law enforcement agencies as they were unable to determine it was a police vehicle.”
Stewart is referring specifically to the criticism the department has received in regards to a set of aftermarket wheels and tires for a police vehicle, according to Stewart the purchases have gone into making a more effective police unit.
In addition, the other expenses Stewart mentioned have gone into officer training, as well as general patrol shifts, he also said that he had been granted full medical leave to address a shoulder injury and said that the department recently completed interviews for a replacement of any positions that opened due to attrition or grant funding.
Though the 45 percent figure may seem daunting to some, the monies are not being wasted and are going toward the purposes they were intended to, which was set forth by the Rockaway Beach Budget Committee and the City Council.