Two week ago I told you about the $27 million in new funding that various Missoula agencies and departments want for 2022.
Each week, the city will sit down with those agencies to come up with a more detailed list of what they want, what it’ll cost, and if it’s truly necessary.
One area that I want to focus on today is our police department.
When you look at the preliminary budget documents, you see the police want $1.8 million in new spending, for 10 specific items.
However, today we had 11 new budgetary documents come out on the city’s budget website, all from the police department, and it looks like it might come to a bit more than the $1.8 million we were originally led to believe was all they wanted.
Here’s what those look like:
- FY22 Police CIP1 Admin and Patrol Facility
- FY22 Police 7 Mobile Response Unit
- FY22 Police 6 Negotiations Van
- FY22 Police 5 Fleet increase
- FY22 Police 4 ECW and VR program
- FY22 Police 3 Special Teams Vests
- FY22 Police 2 Baliff Reserve 3.25FTE positions
- FY22 Police 1 Corporal positions
- FY22 Police 10 Fuel Baseline Adjustments
- FY22 Police 9 Baseline Adjustments
- FY22 Police 8 Drug Spectrometer
A New $11.4 Million Building
The first item on that list is a request to build a new police facility for administration and patrol. Just $101,500 is needed for this next year. By 2024, however, that goes up to $11.4 million.
I wasn’t aware we needed a new facility for our police. After all, we spent $1 million in 2018 for the new Catlin Street expansion, which eventually rose to $4.2 million, paid for with bonding debt. A few months later, police admitted this new building would hold 75% of their staff.
A short time later, we put in showers here...something we’d missed the first time.
Like most Missoulians, I had no idea we’d need a new building so soon...and for three times the price as the one we got three years ago.
This is going to become an issue, and if the police are smart, they’ll get their public information officer to talk with the media very soon, putting the correct spin on this story.
Mobile Response Unit
This new agency unit (within the police department, it appears) will be given $450,000 for 2022, though there is no stipulation on how that is going to be spent, exactly.
The big question that still needs to be answered is if this money can come from the American Rescue Plan or if local taxpayers have to foot the bill. I have no idea when we’ll know.
Next up is $60,000 to replace the 1996 ambulance (which was donated) that the department is currently using to transport negotiating equipment for various situations that might develop.
Again, the department is hoping they can use federal money for this, but we’re not totally sure yet.
Increasing Vehicle Fleet
I told you this one a couple weeks ago. The department wants five new squad cars and one new motorcycle. This will come to $300,000 and $45,000, respectively.
This is the justification for this:
“The recently‐completed staffing study resulted in a variety of recommendations for staggered shifts and zones for the Patrol Division. In order to fully implement the recommendations and provide sufficient equipment to the various shifts requires additional vehicles. This would enable the department to provide enhanced patrols at the identified peak times of days/nights. On average, 20% of patrol vehicles are off‐line for repairs. The motorcycle was on a replacement schedule, but was removed by [the] previous administration. Motorcycle was also requested last year, but not funded.”
ECW and VR Program
This is training for electronic controlled weapons and virtual reality training. The latter is important to give support to “scenarios for de‐escalation, crisis intervention tactics, etc.”
I’m not sure what this all is, but the police seem to. The cost is negligible, at just $25,000.
Special Teams Vests
The current vests expire this October. The cost to replace the 21 vests comes to $120,000. There is some idea that the feds might cover this cost.
Bailiff Reserve and Security
The city wants more security for both the three courtrooms we’ll soon have, as well as more security at city council meetings.
I think the first is justified; the second is not.
There are lots of line-items on this particular report, all adding up to $344,000, though the city thinks the feds might cover $74,000 of this.
Of course, the largest piece of this particular pie are the salaries, which come to $72,861 for each of the three new hires. I suspect the actual salary is lower, with much of that taken up by healthcare and payroll costs.
The department wants to promote two current officers to corporals while hiring two more to fill that rank. Staffing issues at the busier times of day/night are making this a priority.
The two new positions will cost $142,000 each. The total cost for hiring and training and equipment comes to $304,000.
Gas prices are up 40% since Biden took office, and our police know this firsthand.
Our police need an extra $68,000 next year to offset these rising fuel costs.
All these things come to $25,000. Here’s how the city describes it:
“Help the department to maintain the level of service by providing us with our software platforms to document criminal justice information, acquire complete criminal justice information and help with efficiency by using the scheduling software for court hearings, meetings, etc. Also assist Municipal Court and City Attorney's office in their duties. Maintain level of service as well as increase efficiency that will also improve officer and public safety…”
The department will spend $30,000 on this. Here’s why:
“Having this equipment will enable officers to avoid exposure to highly‐potent narcotics such as fentanyl and carfentanil by analyzing the narcotics in their packaging rather than having an officer remove a sample of the narcotic and place in test kits for determining if and what type of narcotic is being examined.”
So how much does all this cost?
When we add up the numbers, we find the Missoula Police Department wants $1.8 million.
I think the vast majority of those costs are justified, and I hope a lot of this ‘defund the police’ talk doesn’t enter into the discussion.
I do want more info on this new proposed building for the police, which will cost us over $10 million in two years, likely a lot more before it’s all said and done.
We just moved our police into a new building three years ago. I’ve heard nothing in the media about the need for a new building.
Why? Is this somehow tied up in the federal building purchase, with the city’s desire to divest other downtown buildings? Is the current police station on the chopping block, ready to be sold to the highest bidding developer for some fancy hotel and art gallery?
I hope some reporters dig into this very soon, because the public is going to want some answers.