Hayden, Idaho – Hayden is growing rapidly, making it difficult for law enforcement officers to keep society safe.
On Wednesday, people from the city of Northern Idaho gathered in a room to learn more about the problems and what needs to be done.
Nearly 4,000 people have moved to Hayden in the last 10 years. The city’s population has grown by 30 percent over the past decade. About 17,000 people now live there, drive on its roads and shop in the city.
Sheriff Robert Norris says the Hayden district is staffed with the equivalent of three full-time deputies and one deputy within a 10-mile Hayden radius. The sheriff’s office has a contract with the city of Hayden for patrols, so he can’t just hire additional deputies for the area.
Norris says the average for cities and law enforcement in the district is typically 1.6 officers per 1,000 people. That means Hayden should have 17 deputies from its population, Norris said.
With their current staff, the mathematician gets lost up to 0.22 deputies per 1,000 people.
As Hayden grows, so does the need for law enforcement.
Deputy Tenner Cox said he felt tense when he was assigned to cover Hayden.
“There are times when none of us are there, or there are times when there is one of us and we have to wait 15 minutes if you ask for help just because it’s a dangerous situation to just send a person away,” Cox said.
Sheriff Norris said there should be more boots on the ground.
“I believe that the city of Hayden should spend money on law enforcement commensurate with other cities in Kutenai County,” Norris said.
Last year, the city spent 7 percent budget on deputies. More money went to the parks and recreation department.
The city did try to get more money for law enforcement officers through fees, but they didn’t pass.
Along with increased security, the sheriff wants to seek greater protection for the public police. This means that the deputies will be distributed in certain districts and get acquainted with the people who live there.
“Such programs build relationships – if we don’t answer service calls, we build relationships with community leaders, with the leaders of your cities, and we look for a criminal element,” Norris said.
Norris said they needed the funds to make it happen. It is unclear how the city will address this issue.
“Because of the growth – our roads, our schools, our hospitals, our law enforcement – they will all need to be able to grow to meet that,” said Linda Fournier, who lives in Hayden.
Cox said he hoped a ballot fee would be introduced to fund more MPs.
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