Letter: Approve public safety tax

July 17, 2014 

As Benton County voters consider the public safety sales tax, it's important they realize how much more difficult police work has become. It's more dangerous. Crimes have become more complex and time consuming to investigate.

In my first 25 years in law enforcement, there was only one officer-involved shooting in Kennewick. In my past 11 years as a police chief, there have been seven officer-involved shootings. All have been justified, prompted by the violent actions of offenders. It's a national and local problem, reflective of not an overly-reactive police force but rather of the more violent offender officers regularly encounter.

Investigating gang crimes is complex and difficult. Police are dealing with non-cooperative victims and witnesses, making it problematic to arrest violent suspects. Changes in law make it more time consuming to conduct standard investigations. Citizens are forced to wait much too long to make reports on crimes not in progress.

This measure will provide for much-needed relief. It will support 15 additional officers to the KPD. It will increase the safety of citizens and officers, and allow for more in-depth investigations and quicker response to report calls. I strongly encourage voters to support this important ballot measure on Aug. 5.

KEN HOHENBERG, Kennewick

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