It's a new year and the Yakima Police Department is starting the year with a smaller force and no traffic unit.

Yakima Police lost 18 officers in 2021 and one so far this year

For a variety of reasons, including new police reform laws, passed by state lawmakers, the Yakima Police Department lost 18 officers last year that left the force-including several retirements. One officer has left the force this year.
Capt. Jay Seely says replacing the officers won't be an easy task since the mandatory state academy only takes a handful of officers from departments all around the state each year. Departments have been advised that the current waiting times are up to 7 months. Seely says they hope to attract more lateral officers this year. Lateral officers are those who are currently working in other departments and would already be qualified as full-time officers if hired in Yakima.

With a shortage of officers those who are on the job are working overtime

Seely says YPD continues to maintain city coverage, but they are relying heavily on overtime. Currently the department has 112 full-time officers who can be deployed on the streets of Yakima, but they're budgeted for 143 officers. The department has an additional 19 officers who are employed but unable to police the streets due to the fact that they are awaiting academy training and others are on various long-term disabilities.

The shortages mean the city has no traffic unit

That shortage forced the department to cut its traffic unit last year and transferred the traffic enforcement function to patrol.  With 12 officers in various phases of the training process, by late 2022, staffing levels are expected to increase. Captain Seely says, “YPD is committed to public safety and the chief and I are proud of the success our officers achieved in 2021 and we expect more of the same in 2022.”

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