New budget could mean boost in number of Tacoma police, firefighters

TACOMA, Wash. -- More police officers could be hitting the streets of Tacoma soon.

A new budget proposal by the city’s manager could pay for more police officers and firefighters.  Meanwhile, other Puget Sound law enforcement agencies are being told to slash budgets.

The new budget is coming as a surprise to some because last spring city department heads were told they may need to cut up to 4% of their budgets to stay out of the red. But now the city believes it has enough in surplus to allow the Tacoma Police Department to hire new officers.

The proposal, released this week, comes at a time when crime rates in Tacoma are on the rise.

Tacoma resident Kylie Markin said someone busted into her public storage unit and made off with thousands of dollars in property.

“I opened the door and the first thing I noticed, of course, was the expensive music gear was gone,” she said.

Instruments, foot pedals, amps, microphones: The burglar found a big pay day in her storage unit.

“About $7,000 in gear,” she said.

She’s not alone. Tacoma police said burglars have targeted the storage facility on South Sprague Avenue three times since January.

Property crimes in Tacoma are through the roof and City Councilman Robert Thoms said a new report underlines the problem.

“Last year and into this year, the state of Washington was ranked number one for property crimes and the city of Tacoma was number one in the state,” Thoms said during a September interview with Q13 News.

Both violent and property crimes are up nearly 10 percent in Tacoma, and drug crimes are up 14 percent, according to The budget proposed by the city’s manager would add more staff for the both the police and fire departments, including creating a 7-person violence reduction team for the police.

The budget would add 13 commissioned and four non-commissioned officers on the police force, something Markin believes could prevent more people from becoming a victim.

“There needs to be more police presence,” she said.

The Tacoma City Council first has to hear from the public to see if there is enough support behind an increase in police spending.

That first public hearing on the new budget is scheduled for November 1.