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OPINION: County, Towns Should Be Able to Work Out Policing Agreement

John McCroskey Commentary, originally from Chronline.com:

Read more about Sheriff’s Office Service Fees Irk Napavine Officials, on Chronline.com.

As a young deputy probably back in the late ’70s, I recall being assigned by the sheriff to stay in the city limits of Mossyrock because they either were trying to find someone to hire as an officer, or had one in the academy.

Over the years we were called on to help several agencies during shortages while they were trying to hire or waiting for an academy graduate to get back to town. I don’t think we ever charged them for the temporary help.

The recent story about Napavine being irked by service fees was a little different. It sounded like they want the county to cover because they can’t afford 24-hour coverage despite all their annexations, and don’t like the fees they are being charged.

I remember a time in Napavine when all they had was a police chief. Duane Elwood served the folks in Napavine well for years and I really don’t know when he got any time off.  One time, his patrol car broke down, and we found him out in the middle of the night making business checks in his personal car. Duane took his work pretty seriously.

But that was before Napavine annexed the property by the freeway and all the 24-7 businesses located there.

Still, it doesn’t seem unreasonable for the city of Napavine to pay something if it expects the county to cover the city. After all, the county still has to provide coverage from Pe Ell to Packwood and there is no one else to call.

My recollection is the cops have always found a way to work together and I’ll bet they will again. In the meantime, I’m sure the affected elected officials will come together and find a political solution that makes sense too.

Well, pretty sure.

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Another story caught my attention in Thurston County. It apparently built a $48 million dollar jail, which has now sat empty for four years. That’s a pretty expensive empty building.

I know a little something about this and I find it hard to believe the subject of staffing and operating costs didn’t come up somewhere in the planning stages. I know it did when we were planning our jail because it’s a really important consideration.

If the operating costs were not considered before spending $48 million, that’s a big miss, but I’ll bet it was. 

So it’s hard to know what changed and why they haven’t opened it, but it really doesn’t matter. It has a $48 million building costing taxpayers another $400,000 per year to keep closed.

Seems like this is a problem that should get worked out quickly. I said should, not will.

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John McCroskey was Lewis County sheriff from 1995 to 2005. He lives outside Chehalis, and can be contacted at musingsonthemiddlefork@yahoo.com.