Three months into the new year and the city of Yakima is still void of a Yakima Police Department Traffic Unit. For a variety of reasons, including new police reform laws, passed by state lawmakers, the Yakima Police Department is short 19 officers.

The traffic unit was cancelled last year because of a lack of officers

Because of that shortage the department had to cancel the traffic unit last year which means fewer drivers are being pulled over for traffic infractions. So how is the city handling traffic control within the department? Capt. Jay Seely says Patrol Officers continue to work overtime hours to supplement the traffic division. Not only are there not enough officers to create a new traffic unit but there's also a shortage of patrol officers. Recruitment is underway and Seely says they hope to have the patrol division fully staffed by June. That's also the month Yakima Police expect to start selecting officers to be part of the Yakima Police Department Traffic Unit. Hoping to have the unit back this summer.

YPD is now hiring more officers hoping to have the traffic unit back by summer

Seely says they hope to attract more lateral officers this year who are currently working in other departments and would already be qualified as full-time officers if hired in Yakima. Along with the 19 open positions the department has more than 12 officers who are employed but unable to police the streets due to the fact that they are awaiting academy training while others are on various long-term disabilities.

The lack of officers hasn't impacted safety for Yakima residents

Seely says regardless of the lack of officers he's not concerned about a lack of safety. He says the department continues to maintain city coverage by using overtime pay. That means the same officers are working more time on the streets of Yakima. Something he's hoping will drastically change this summer.

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