Clallam Transit approves funds for officer

Four-year agreement adds to Port Angeles City Council allocation

PORT ANGELES — Clallam Transit has committed $125,000 over the next four years to help pay for a full-time police resource officer who will be stationed at the Gateway Transit Center, bolstering funds from the city of Port Angeles.

Transit commissioners approved at its Wednesday meeting a measure that would provide $25,000 this year and up to $50,000 the following three years to the city to support a dedicated law enforcement presence in downtown Port Angeles.

“It is a really good value for transit,” General Manager Kevin Gallacci said.

Approval came the day after the Port Angeles City Council voted to dedicate $60,000 from its general fund to hire a downtown resource officer who would start this year.

“This isn’t going to cover all the hours, but think it’s gonna help and it’s gonna be appreciated by the Downtown Business Association and the general public,” Gallacci said.

Clallam Transit’s payments would not reduce the city’s financial obligations, he said.

The city employed a full-time downtown resource officer from 2007 until 2012, when the position was eliminated due to budget cuts.

According to a letter from Gallacci to the city council dated Jan. 4, Clallam Transit had experienced “continuous property damage and vehicle thefts” at the transit center and garage.

Gallacci said he had been working with a group comprised of downtown businesses and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Marc Abshire for more than a year to come up with a solution to address crime, vandalism and other illegal activity. They discussed but decided against hiring a private security firm, he said.

“At the end of the day, we found that having a commissioned police officer had a lot of advantages,” Gallacci said. “We have 30-some cameras at The Gateway transit center. There’s an office there so we’re able to monitor those things and recognize folks coming through there.”

Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin, who serves as a Port Angeles City Council member representative on the transit board, said downtown businesses had committed $46,000 to $50,0000 toward the position.

“The issue from my perspective as a council member and board member is how long is that commitment going to be from the downtown businesses,” Schromen-Wawrin said. “I would anticipate that commitment will wane over time, and then it’s going to be up to local governance to fill in that hole.”

With the option of contributing up to $50,000 toward the position, Clallam Transit’s measure provides it flexibility to adjust its contribution to address such a shortfall if one should occur.

Clallam Transit’s new Interlink microtransit service that began operating Dec. 12 in Sequim and Forks had been going well, said operations manager Jim Fetzer.

On days when the weather was bad, Fetzer said, individuals who were not usually transit riders took advantage of Interlink’s door-to-door service to take them to work or deliver them to a bus stop.

“Overall, we’re getting more compliments than complaints,” Fetzer said.

In other actions, the Clallam Transit board:

• Approved Juanita Weissenfels as board chair and Brendan Meyer as vice chair for 2023.

• Approved a new credit card use policy and revised user agreement for employees.

• Recognized retirement of operations supervisor Rickie Stimbert for her 16 years of service.

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Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at paula.hunt@soundpublishing.com.

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