Yakima's crime rate: A multi-million dollar problem

Yakima's crime rate: A multi-million dollar problem
YAKIMA, Wash. -- A noteworthy drop in Yakima's overall crime rate is being credited in part to millions of additional funding at our local police department.

Les Henderson owns Hendo's Accessories in Yakima and knows what it's like to be hit by crooks.

"I was mad," Henderson said. "Upset that they cut through my fence and broke a window in a rig."

Crime like this can tarnish a city's reputation.

"Taking up time and money and lost me money," said Henderson. "And, the person that did it is not paying."

However, Yakima police are paying to put a stop to it.

KIMA crunched the numbers and found the YPD plans to spend more than $25 million this year; that's almost $3 million more than just 2 years ago.

Some say throwing money at a problem simply won't fix it.

But, in recent years, YPD has spent millions more of your tax dollars to make these streets a whole lot safer.

Action News pulled the numbers and found it appears to be working.

"More officers on the street, more officers out there proactively addressing issues," said Yakima Police Captain Rod Light.

Some of the money went to expanding the gang unit and hiring eight new officers.

Now, compare that spending to Yakima's crime rate after the investment.

The most recent numbers from 2010 through 2011 show a drop across the board; a 9% drop in the violent crime rate, 15% drop for property cases and an overall 14% drop in the overall crime rate, according to the Washington Association of Sheriff's and Police Chiefs.

"I would say yes, there's a direct correlation," said Light.

YPD says there are more jobs open in the department. Business owners like Les want them filled.

"We still need to hire more police officers," said Henderson.

"So, as a taxpayer, you're all for police spending?" KIMA asked.

"Yes, we are," said Henderson.

With even more hires slated for this year, Yakima hopes the money continues to drive down the crime rate.

Last year's increase in the utility tax generated millions for Yakima to hire more officers.

YPD says it currently has nine jobs that need to be filled. Three of those cannot be filled until this fall when more funding becomes available.