by Richard Uhlhorn
On Saturday, April 6, Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett, Undersheriff Mathews, Chief of Special Operations Reinfeld and Sgt Forman sat down at a Special City Council Strategic Retreat to give a quarterly report on law enforcement activity in Chelan, a discussion on the upcoming Memorial Day weekend and marine patrol operations
Sheriff Brian Burnett (center) and Undersheriff Matthews (left) and Chief of Special Operations Reinfeld answered questions and presented the Sheriff’s quarterly report to City Council.
Sgt. Foreman started the discussion off by remarking that February and March are a slow time in the community and that the department was being pro-active in patrolling empty homes on the lake.
Sgt. Chris Foreman
Councilwoman Erin McCardle stated that she has heard there are more traffic stops being made. Residents are asking are they safe to drive, or are they going to be pulled over. Councilman Tim Hollingsworth added that deputies hiding behind a bush generates a feeling of harassment. Apparently, a number of people are pulled over and then given a field sobriety test but coming out normal.
Sgt. Chris Foreman said if a person isn’t driving normal they will be stopped. He remarked that with more wineries in the valley that even if a person says they are a designated driver, the deputies are going to do due diligence. “Sometimes they will lie to us… they’ve been drinking too,” said Foreman.
Sheriff Brian Burnett
Sheriff Burnett stated that when he was patrolling and he had a reason to pull someone over that he wanted to make sure that if they are going to drive away, “I want to be sure they are not impaired. It’s a liability.” Burnett added that there was a high awareness at night to keep the highways safe in a professional manner.
Driving under the influence is up with most of those arrested coming from Senor Frogs. In February and March there were 78 traffic violations in the City. Hollingsworth remarked that he would love to see slow rolling sheriff’s rigs patrolling the neighborhoods. “We would all love that.”
With respect to Memorial Day, Special Operations Chief Reinfeld stated that the law enforcement schedule would be the same as it has been with plenty of presence in Don Morse Park where there is obvious drinking going on. “We just try to keep the peace.” The last thing the Sheriff’s Department wants is a problem where everything is alcohol fueled.
Councilwoman Erin McCardle
McCardle asked if Memorial Day was better than in the past. Matthews replied that if was definitely better. “We are seeing more families.” Sheriff Burnett added that it has pretty much changed from a college party to a family oriented weekend.
With respect to the Marine Patrol operations, Sheriff Burnett stated that 75 percent of marine patrol operations in the County is conducted in the lower basin of Lake Chelan.
Councilman Tim Hollingsworth
Hollingsworth said the City had talked about imposing additional fees on rental watercraft to help fund marine patrol activities in the City. “It is a discussion we need to talk about.”
Councilman Ty Witt
Councilman Ty Witt asked what the City was paying for Marine Patrol services and Burnett replied that the Sheriff’s Department provides those services at no cost to the City.
Hollingsworth asked if it was possible to have one more marine patrol officer on duty within the City at all times. Mayor Mike Cooney asked if the Chelan Fire & Rescue boat was a welcome addition. Foreman replied that the department will be able to work with them. “We still have to respond to incidents. There is certain criteria we have to follow.” Burnett added that a deputy in a car could join the Fire & Rescue boat if required. Reinfeld stated that three more deputies were being certified for marine patrol. “Having more people certified would help,” said Hollingsworth.
Mayor Cooney asked how closely the department interacts with the rental companies. Sgt. Foreman said they not only track them but work closely with the rental companies.
Currently, the Marine Patrol in on the lake from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Mayor Cooney brought up the City’s expectations. “I’ve had many conversations about the sheer number of traffic stops doubling…. DUIs doubling. I’m on your side, but I’ve heard the same comments that other council people are hearing.”
Cooney said the message was for more policing downtown with deputies out of their vehicles and walking. Matthews replied that Call for Service takes priority, traffic enforcement comes second and community oriented policing is third. “What we don’t want is two hour breaks at Starbucks.” He said he wants deputies at sporting events and more patrols at night.
Sheriff Burnett added, “It is your city! We want to serve you well.” He added, “How can we constructively work with the City but do what we have to. I want you to know we are listening.”
McCardle stated that the community is feeling more of the traffic stops. “The grumbling gets a little louder each time… it is uncomfortable. There needs to be a balance between the stops.” Councilwoman Kelly Allen said, “We need more of a community spirit.”
Foreman stated that the number of places that are serving alcohol is going up and DUIs are going to go up also. Burnett added that the School Resource officer would be plugged in as soon as school was over.
Mayor Cooney asked how the Department handles immigration. Matthews replied that it wasn’t the Departments job. “We do not enforce immigration,” he said. Burnett added, “We don’t even have the ability to run them.” Foreman added, “We don’t even ask (if they are legal).”
The offered council or anyone else that would like to ride with a deputy for a shift to ask.