Yakima moves forward with plan to add 74 new police cars

Yakima moves forward with plan to add 74 new police cars
YAKIMA, Wash. -- The city is quickly moving ahead with plans to add 74 new police cars to the force.

Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to move forward with the ordinance.

Now, the city manager will present council with a plan next month that details the exact finances of the purchase.

City Manager Tony O’Rourke says the plan is a win-win. The new policy would allow officers to take the cars home for the first time. The idea is that the parked cars would deter crime in those neighborhoods.

And, it could potentially cut back on wasted man hours for officers who share cars, and take up to a half-hour every to transport their equipment.

O'Rourke said the idea comes after the latest city survey indicated a majority of people don't feel safe in Yakima.

"In our benchmarks we ranked second to last in the country when it came to the citizen’s self-image and I think a lot of that has to do with, unfortunately, with the issue of crime and public safety,” O’Rourke said. “So what do we intend to do about that?"

The police union offered to forego pay raises for two years in order to pay for the new cars. Council members say the new cars would cost the city a total of $100,000 per year.

Council member Kathey Coffey is in favor of the plan. However she questioned if adding the new cars would translate into more maintenance and gas costs.

"It seems to defy logic that if you double your inventory that you wouldn't increase your costs,” Coffey said.

Other council members mentioned the survey, saying people do want change, but often aren't aware of how much it costs.

O’Rourke plans to present final numbers to the council in June. The ordinance says the city will revisit the agreement every two years to avoid any debt.

Council also voted in favor to keep the moratorium on cell towers and digital billboards in effect.