By Natalie Johnson / firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2017, the Toledo Police Department responded to Winlock 841 times for domestic violence calls, property crimes, trespassing, traffic infractions and other reports.
That’s more than twice as many times as the department responded in Toledo, where there was a total of 405 calls.
In June, Toledo police responded to more than three times as many calls to Winlock. In April, officers went to Winlock four times as often.
Toledo Police Chief John Brockmueller, a longtime officer in southern Lewis County, says Toledo’s contract to provide police services to both cities is efficient and effective.
“This by far is the best system to date. This works,” he said.
However, newly elected Winlock Mayor Don Bradshaw said he believes the numbers reflect an increase in crime in Winlock. He attributes that to a lack of a hometown police force.
Last week, Bradshaw sent a letter to Toledo announcing his intention to withdraw from the contract and recreate Winlock’s Police Department, which has been closed for more than two years. Toledo received the letter Monday. The Chronicle obtained it through a public records request.
“Imagine yourself in my shoes, and my predecessor went out of his way to go 10 miles away to a city half our size with a third of our police budget and basically give away all of our police (equipment) and close to a quarter of a million dollars a year,” Bradshaw said. “And this is what we get for it.”
In spring 2015, Winlock’s last chief of police — Terry Williams — announced his retirement after 16 years as the city’s chief and 36 years with the agency. His last day was June 30, 2015.
Winlock considered contracting with both the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and Toledo for police services, and in June 2015 chose Toledo.
At that time, each department consisted of a chief, one full-time officer and reserves.
According to the contract, the Toledo Police Department agreed to provide police services to Winlock starting in August 2015 at a cost of $196,000 each year.
In 2016, the Toledo City Council asked Winlock starting in 2017 to pay an additional $21,000 per year, for a total of $217,000 to help cover a 40 percent higher insurance cost, increased 911 dispatch fees and a 1.5 percent pay raise for police department staff.
According to information previously reported in The Chronicle, Winlock’s 2015 police budget was projected to be $250,417.
The contract is set to expire at the end of this year. Toledo City Clerk Michelle Whitten said there is no provision in the contract for ending the contract early other than for a breach of contract.
The letter will be in the Toledo City Council’s packets at its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, but is not scheduled to be on the agenda, Whitten said.
Bradshaw declined to discuss the letter Monday at his first meeting at the helm of the Winlock City Council since his last term as mayor in the late 1990s, saying he wanted to wait for a response from Toledo.
On Wednesday, he said he could comment since Toledo released the letter, which is a public document.
Bradshaw said he isn’t happy with the service Winlock gets from the Toledo Police Department, but said he doesn’t blame Brockmueller or his officers.
“We get service — a drive through when it’s convenient for Toledo,” he said. “We’re twice as big as they are … and we don’t have a police presence. I’m surprised we don’t have more crime.”
Bradshaw said he was aware of the statistics showing officers in Winlock twice as often as Toledo.
He interprets that as showing a higher level of criminal activity in Winlock due to a lack of its own police department, rather than showing a larger police presence from Toledo officers in Winlock than in their home city. He said he believes the loss of Winlock’s own police force has resulted in an increase in crime.
Brockmueller said Winlock has twice as many calls because the city is twice as big as Toledo.
“We kind of already knew that when we took over the contract,” he said.
Officers don’t split up their time evenly between the cities.
“We go where we’re needed, regardless of how much time it takes,” he said.
Brockmueller said the contract has allowed Toledo to grow its department and provide more comprehensive coverage to both cities.
“Here’s how it’s laid out,” he said. “Before this contract, both cities had their own police department that consisted of two full time people including the chief. You had a chief and a patrolman.”
The officers in Toledo worked four 10-hour days with the chief typically working Monday through Thursday and the other officer working Thursday through Sunday.
On Thursday, the officers were able to split up their shifts to provide 20 full hours of coverage, Brockmueller said, saying Winlock had a similar arrangement. Thursday was the “power day,” he said.
The other six days of the week had one officer on duty for 10 hours and on call for the other 14.
At the time, Toledo’s police budget was about $200,000 per year, Brockmueller said.
“So now we’ve combined the cities,” he said.
Toledo now has four full-time officers, including the chief. Rather than having one officer each in Winlock and Toledo patrolling for 10 hours separately, Toledo now has two officers on duty for 10 hours each in a day, for a total of 20 hours of coverage every day, rather than just on Thursdays, as it was before.
“It works very well from my opinion, from a policeman’s standpoint,” Brockmueller said.