Wapato police down to just four officers, acting chief asks to hire more

WAPATO, Wash. -

The Wapato Police Department has dwindled in recent years, shrinking from 14 commissioned officers to now just four — responsible for overseeing the about 5,000 people living within the city.

Acting Wapato Police Chief Michael Campos says the understaffing is at dangerous levels, with the department unable to provide 24/7 coverage and sometimes just one officer on duty to cover the whole city. 

"Officers are wearing themselves down because they're not getting enough rest," Campos said. "Their officer safety is in jeopardy."

Campos said one officer is out due to a work-related injury and that another was shot at while on the job last week.

The city is currently under a spending and hiring freeze in an attempt to deal with its dire financial emergency. Campos spoke to the Wapato City Council on Monday to ask them to make an exception.

Campos asked council members to lift the hiring freeze for the police department, so he could hire more officers. He also asked them to consider offering incentives to attract officers who are already commissioned and looking for a new place to work. 

Council members did not make a decision at the meeting.

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