The Bellingham Police Department will ask the city council on Monday, April 10, for additional funding to create two new full-time officer positions. Additionally, two other positions that were scheduled to be added in 2024 would move into this year’s budget, according to a memo Police Chief Rebecca Mertzig wrote to the council.
The request adds $81,453 in salary to the 2023 budget for each officer, not including benefits.
When setting the city budget last fall, the council decided not to fund additional police officers due to a relatively large number of vacancies in the department. But since October, the number of vacant officer positions has dropped from 14 to 11, with seven of those likely to be filled by “very strong candidates” who have received conditional job offers, Mertzig said.
Adding new positions in 2023 would enable the city to put four more new hires on the street by 2025. Given the backlog at the state’s Basic Law Enforcement Academy, the city must wait 20 months after reviewing a candidate’s application to start them on the job.
The new positions would help make up for an anticipated wave of retirements in the department, Mertzig said. She expects 23 officers to retire in 2024 and 2025.
Council will discuss the police chief’s budget request during a committee meeting scheduled to start at 2 p.m. on Monday, April 10 at Bellingham City Hall, 210 Lottie St. A vote is expected at the full council meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. Meetings are streamed live at cob.org/btv.