Carnation’s move to county cops: So far, so good

The new year brought new law enforcement to Carnation and city officials couldn’t be happier with the transition.

“It’s gone remarkably well,” said Carnation City Manager Ken Carter last week. “What we did in three months, normally takes nine.”

Carnation had been contracting with the neighboring city of Duvall for police coverage since late 2004, but had cut back to half-time coverage for the past two years, lacking the revenue to fund full-time coverage. The city was notified last fall that Duvall would no longer offer a police contract to the city. The city’s small force was overworked, Duvall officials said, and going through a transition as Police Chief Glenn Merryman was about to retire.

City officials, surprised by the decision, sought partnerships with other neighboring police forces, including King County. They also had several discussions about what the city wanted in its new police force, and community-oriented policing was a high priority.

“Be visible. Go in and ask people how they’re doing,” explained Carter. “They want good interplay with the schools and business communities.”

King County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Allen, the city’s new police officer since Jan. 2, has been doing a great job of that so far, according to comments on a Carnation Facebook group.

“I live in a tiny little neighborhood out here and have seen patrols about as often as I saw the DPD (Duvall Police Department). I’m sure there will be some difference, but so far, so good!” wrote one commenter. Another wrote, “I’ve seen more in town since they said there would be no law enforcement.”

City staff and officials credit both the Duvall and county departments with making the transition smooth. Duvall’s interim police chief, Lt. Commander Carey Hert, “has been exceptional,” Carter said. “He and his department were truly helpful. They deserve to be commended for just making it all work… and I can’t say enough good about how the sheriff’s department made this happen. “

Mayor Jim Berger, in the Jan. 7 City Council meeting, said, “I think the King County Sheriff’s Office deserves a little praise, too.”

Carnation’s contract with King County will give the city slightly less coverage, but a dedicated officer, at a cost just under $500,000. Allen will have an office in City Hall, and Carter said the office will be available for other Sheriff’s officers in the area to use too, for filing reports and other paperwork.

“The surrounding officers in the area can come here to do some of their reports and paperwork,” he said, “so they can maybe do a couple of patrols on their way in and out of town, too.”

Currently, shared patrol deputies covering the unincorporated parts of the county can use the North Bend substation, if needed, but that substation will close soon, as North Bend ends its contract with King County on March 7. The next nearest substation is in Sammamish.

Carnation is still working out details on some of the other public safety services that ended with the Duvall contract, including prisoner transport. However, Carter said the prosecutor and public defender contracts are already in place.


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