Plan for more cops on street gets nod

Changes are coming to the Oak Harbor Police Department.

Tuesday, Oak Harbor City Council members approved Chief Kevin Dresker’s plan that will result in more police officers, fewer corrections officers and a contract to send certain misdemeanor inmates to the Yakima jail.

That’s good news for people concerned about crime and safety issues in the south end of the city since the chief’s plan calls for more bike, foot and car patrols in the wide area from the marina to Walmart.

Oak Harbor Chamber Director Christine Cribb urged the council to approve the plan.

“We need lots more bodies on the street,” she said, “and his plan he’s worked very, very hard on.”

Dresker developed the proposal while trying to find a solution to the inadequacy of the city’s small, aging jail.

Dresker originally hoped to contract with the Island County jail, but that didn’t work out.

He came up with a new plan in which “long term” misdemeanor inmates will be transported to Yakima and the shorter-term inmates will remain at the jail. Felony inmates will continue to go to Island County jail.

Two of the jail position will be converted to police officers and the animal control officer will be a back-up corrections officer.

In addition, a sergeant will be promoted to a lieutenant.

“You’ve been very clear in the fact that this is all in an effort to provide additional patrols,” Jim Woessner said, “additional feet on the street as well as providing a safer environment for both the officers and the inmates.”

Several council members were concerned about the cost of the chief’s proposal. It will mean an increase of $116,000 in the 2020 budget, though it may be partially offset by other savings.

But in the end, the support of the plan was unanimous.

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