Thursday, June 13, 2024

Congresswoman Kim Schrier celebrates $660,000 Federal Fund for Chelan County Sheriff’s Office

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WENATCHEE - In a press event held on June 7 in front of the Chelan County Superior Court, Congresswoman Kim Schrier (D-WA) announced a substantial federal investment of $660,000 aimed at bolstering the Chelan County Sheriff's Office. The Washington State representative expressed her optimism that the funds will contribute to increased transparency within the department while simultaneously improving safety measures for law enforcement officers.

The focus of this successfully funded project is to equip the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office with the technology, training, and resources needed to facilitate the full use of body cameras by law enforcement officers. 

“Body cameras are more than just pieces of technology,” Chelan County Sheriff Mike Morrison said about his enthusiasm for this investment in police accountability. “They are instruments of transparency and trust. Body cameras ensure that everyone is held accountable for their actions, including us in uniform.”  

Douglas County Sheriff Kevin W. Morris attended the event with the Axon body-worn camera system that will most likely be used by the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office, demonstrating its functions and capabilities. With his help, Rep. Schrier was able to quickly equip a body-worn camera and display its live feed feature, which could be used by law enforcement to better understand situations as they unfold.

Rep. Schrier emphasized a heavy focus not just on accountability but on community safety, saying, “one of the additional benefits of body cameras is that, when you have that [body camera] on, it is a tool in de-escalating because people do not want to behave badly.” Schrier added, “everyone deserves to feel safe in their communities…and so I want everyone to feel safe and body cameras are a part of that.” 

Congresswoman Schrier helped secure this sizable federal investment through Community Project Funding (CPF), a federal grant program part of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development's Economic Development Initiative. Within the US House of Representatives, CPF allows representatives to request funding for specific projects in their district, ensuring a direct pipeline of funds moving from the federal government into local communities. 

Rep. Schrier explained the impressive efficiency of this Community Project funding, “this is a way for us to not have money go through the state, through a long bureaucracy to get to projects, but to go straight to what matters most to the community,” 

According to Sheriff Morrison, “it will take a couple of months to get [Chelan County Sheriff’s Office] up and running as we go through.” But, once the training and resources are in full effect, Morrison seeks to “release photos and video from our instruments that our deputies are handling in order to show the community what our deputies are doing… the community really should see what they’re getting back in return.” 

Through programs like CPF, Rep. Schrier has already secured direct federal funding for other important community projects, such as local food banks, school-based health clinics, and improvements to a local senior center. 

“We get somewhere between 10 and 15 projects a year… and there are certain ones that rise to the top, and clearly this is one of them,” commented Rep. Schrier about the importance of protecting the community through better documentation and police accountability. 

Chelan County Commissioner Shon Smith closed out the event with an optimistic attitude toward the implementation of body cameras, stating, “They may decrease the use of force in incidents… and they may even prevent an already dangerous situation from escalating.” Smith looked to the future, concluding, “I hope to see this new program enhance the reputation of Chelan County Sheriff’s Office as a leader in the community policing in our region. And I hope to see that it also makes our streets safer for our citizens and the community overall.”

Will Nilles: (509) 731-3211 or will@ward.media

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