With a force of just 16 commissioned officers, the U.P. Police Department has an officer-to-resident ratio of 0.45 per 1,000 citizens. This places University Place last out of 218 jurisdictions in the state of Washington on this metric. The state officer-to-citizen average is 1.46.
Due to staffing concerns raised by Chief Premo and residents, the City Council has made increasing public safety its number one goal for the 2023-2024 biennium. The City Council has dedicated all property taxes paid to the City and a substantial portion of the City’s utility tax revenue to public safety. However, even with this substantial dedication, projections reveal that the City’s existing police staffing level is unsustainable. Maintaining our existing police staffing and adding additional staffing to address both population growth and response times will require additional revenue.
In March, the City commissioned a statistically accurate survey of residents. When asked about priorities, public safety outpaced all other local concerns. There was specific emphasis on preventing property crimes and increasing police presence and response. When survey participants were presented with the possibility of a public safety levy that could provide additional funding for seven new City law enforcement personnel, including patrol officers, detectives, and a specialist to address nuisances and crime prevention, a clear majority of respondents supported the idea.
Public safety funding is a critical and complex topic. That is why the UPPD will be hosting a series of community forums later this spring and summer to answer questions, dispel rumors and misinformation, and present the hard facts related to public safety. Watch Headlines and the City of U.P. Facebook page for more details on the dates, times and locations of these sessions and please make plans to attend and contribute to the discussion.
Read more information on the Public Safety Levy Discussion page.