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It’s not cheap to equip a police officer at the Ellensburg Police Department with all of the tools, training and equipment he or she needs for a day on the job.

The Ellensburg Police Department is budgeted for 29 commissioned police officers from the chief down to the rookies. Twenty of the officers are assigned to patrol squads.

The costs shown are estimated values of what it takes to equip a patrol officer. Many of the items like the ballistic vest, gun, radio and duty gear are often reissued to new officers as retirements occur, and do not need to be purchased as frequently, said Ellensburg Police Capt. Dan Hansberry.

Tasers are shared in the department and are transferred at the start of new shifts to incoming officers.

“Every officer doesn’t have his own,” He said. “We have enough Tasers for every patrol officer working a normal shift. At the most we have six patrol officers working a shift, so we have more than enough Tasers to equip each officer with one as they’re working.”

Body cameras

The Ellensburg Police Department does not currently use body cameras.

Hansberry said the department is interested in using body cameras in the future, but has no plans to go that route until there are fixes in the state Legislature with regard to privacy and public disclosure issues.

“It’s kind of the same issue as when car cameras came out. … They passed a law that helped regulate the use of in-car cameras,” he said.

Cost of hiring

The Ellensburg Police Department starts to accrue costs for an officer during the hiring process. Candidates take a written test and physical ability test done through Public Safety Testing, an agency used by the majority of law enforcement agencies in the state, Hansberry said.

EPD reaches out and asks for the top 20 scores that tested for Ellensburg when hiring for a position. Selected candidates get invited to an oral board that usually consists of four interviewers. Once the candidate’s written test and physical ability test are certified, EPD starts the background investigation process.

The process involves an extensive one-on-one background interview that can last two to three hours. The background investigator will go to that person’s hometown and talk with neighbors and friends and to past employers. For younger recruits in their 20s, the investigator will go to their high school or college.

“We have to be that in depth,” Hansberry said, adding that travel and overtime cost are sometimes accrued during this portion of the process.

After that comes a chief’s interview and then a conditional job offer from the city, pending successful completion of a polygraph (about $250), the psychological exam ($350) and a medical examination ($100). From there, the candidate has to attend the state’s roughly four-month Basic Law Enforcement Academy, which costs about $3,300, according to 2013 figures. There are other academy costs like a uniform that EPD also pays for. An officer starts getting paid from his date of hire when he starts the academy.

After completion of the academy, an officer goes through 14 weeks of a field training program in Ellensburg before getting assigned to a patrol squad for a year. An officer is on probation for 18 months from date of hire before becoming a third class patrol officer.

Salary

This is the current pay scale for an Ellensburg Police Officer, barring cost of living or contract increases:

  • Probationary officer, $4,505 a month
  • Third class patrol officer, $4,824 a month
  • Second class patrol officer, $5,101 a month
  • First class patrol officer, $5,865 a month

Additional incentives are offered for education, physical fitness and department specialties, Hansberry said.

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