Casino grants pump nearly $500k into Yakima Valley public safety

Casino grants pump nearly $500k into Yakima Valley public safety »Play Video
The Yakima County Sheriff's Department receives $230,000 from Legends Casino Wednesday.

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash.  --  A local casino thinks the odds are in its favor to invest in public safety. Legends Casino in Toppenish handed over almost $500,000 Wednesday to Yakima Valley police and fire departments.

Almost a quarter million of that went to the Yakima County Sheriff's Office to install dash-cams in all its patrol calls.

"To be able to record all of their actions as needed out on the street," said Yakima Sheriff Ken Irwin.

Equipment you might have thought was already there. The Yakima County Sheriff's Office trails small agencies like the Wapato Police Department in this area.

"We've been going through a lot of cuts in a lot of years," said Irwin.

A $230,000 grant from Legends Casino now makes it possible. Sheriff Ken Irwin says the cameras will provide vital information.

"That could help put someone behind bars?" KIMA asked.

"Oh, absolutely," said Irwin. "Another piece of evidence in getting criminals off the streets and held accountable."

Years of cuts have meant fewer deputies on the streets.

Irwin says the grant won't be used to hire anyone. The money is only for one-time expenses.

"They're into the shop all the time," said Yakima County District #5 Spokesperson Kevin Frazier. "They're high in maintenance."

Grant money also reaches the Lower Valley; two new SUVs to strengthen fire protection.

"Volunteer firefighters will use these on the weekends to help augment the district's staff and coverage," said Frazier.

And new pumps for two new rigs the district plans to buy.

"Higher capacity," Frazier said. "That can flow quite a bit of water."

That's a nearly $90,000 in equipment.

"We just don't have the money," said Frazier.

The Toppenish Fire and Police departments about $100,000 combined. It will help train officers and buy equipment.

"It could take 2 to 5 years to stick a little bit of money away," Frazier said.

That money now comes a little sooner.

The grant money is handed out every year to offset the impact of the casino on the community. The sheriff's office says it will have the dash-cams installed within 90 days.