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Guild complains that mayor not supportive of police efforts

By Dennis Box, The Courier-Herald

A political donnybrook has erupted between the Bonney Lake Police Guild and Mayor Bob Young. Prior to Election Day (Nov. 4), the guild sent a fax to local newspapers expressing support for both Bonney Lake Proposition 1 and Pierce County Proposition 1 and criticizing the mayor's level of support for the police department.

Officer Kurt Alfano, president of the Police Guild, said his group usually does not become involved in politics, but sent the fax as a means to get the message out in public. "This goes beyond Proposition 1," Alfano said. "We want the city to address our concerns. Our issues are not with Chief (Bryan) Jeter or Lt. Michael Strozyk; it's with the city administration. They are not doing their job."

The mayor vigorously defended his record of supporting the police department. "That press release was filled with misinformation," Young said. "I support the police department. I've increased their budget by $1 million over the last four years."

In its press release, the guild outlined its complaints with the mayor: "He has, by virtue of his management style, allowed the Bonney Lake Police Department to fall behind the city's growth. In fact, there have been two positions vacant within the patrol staff for most of 2003. Only in recent weeks did the city fill one of the vacancies...It's clear that the Mayor's priorities are somewhere else, not with criminal justice and public safety."

Young said one new officer started on Nov. 1 and two more would begin on Dec. 1 filling the allotted number of officers. "One officer was off with medical leave and the other was on administrative leave," he said. "We can't do anything about those officers until they are gone."

The guild also is unhappy with vehicle purchases. "Six cars were purchased in 1994, all have over 100,000 miles, one has 180,000," Alfano said. "Five years ago they refurbished them and they're breaking down right and left. The program to refurbish these vehicles is not working."

"I depend on the Public Works Department mechanics," Young said. "It was recommended by the fleet manager to keep and rebuild these vehicles. We kept them and rebuilt them and got several years out of these cars." The mayor reported the city is in the process of purchasing three new vehicles.

The guild complaints were aired during a Nov. 3 City Council workshop after the press release was stuffed into mailboxes on Sunday, Nov. 2. The mayor said he did not receive a copy of the release. "I had to ask for the memo after it was sent to the papers," Young said.

Alfano reported he did not know who stuffed the copies of the press release in resident mailboxes and the guild did not approve of that action.

"We have good officers and we are going in the right direction," Alfano said. "But will the city let us go in the right direction?"

The mayor reported he plans to sit down and talk with guild members. "I was a chaplain for the Tacoma Police Department for many years. To say I don't support the police and criminal justice is a misnomer," he said.

The Bonney Lake Department has 21 officers and 19 of those are members of the Police Guild. Jeter and Lt. Strozyk are not members.

Young stated that Bonney Lake maintains 1.7 officers per 1,000 residents. "Some cities have more, some have less; we're right in there with them," Young said.

Bonney Lake Proposition 1 called for a new form of city government that would replace the mayor-council system with a city manager-council form. Pierce County Proposition 1 asked for a 0.3 percent sales tax increase to fund criminal justice services. Both propositions failed. Bonney Lake Proposition 1 failed by 70 percent.

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com

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