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There are no officers right now in the Twisp Police Department. That, after Interim Chief Ty Sheehan completed his final patrol on the night of April 27th. The Methow Valley News reports that the town has now contracted with the Okanogan County Sheriff's Office for police coverage through the end of the year; the town will pay the Sheriff's Office 500 dollars for every call they respond to.

Sheehan was the last officer on the Twisp force after Chief Paul Budrow was elected Okanogan County Sheriff in November, and Officer Stephen Purtell resigned in April to join the sheriff's office. And Sheehan had told the Twisp Town Council earlier this year that he was planning to leave by the end of May. Sheehan had been interim chief since Budrow left; the city has been looking for a replacement, which has drawn no applicants.

According to the Methow Valley News, Sheehan has sent numerous emails with warnings about having an unmanned police department, and suggestions on what to do should that happen. In correspondence with town officials, both Sheehan and Purtell said the town has been indifferent to the police department's needs.

At the most recent council meeting, Twisp Mayor Sue Ing-Moody said the town hopes to rebuild its police department, saying the questions is how to make it work, not whether to make it work.

Last year, the officers joined the Teamsters union, and negotiated a contract with the town. That contract expires later this year, and at the last council meeting, Sheehan mentioned a meeting both he and Purtell had with the mayor in March where they asked for discussions related to the current contract before it expires. Sheehan said Purtell might have stayed on if the town had agreed to negotiate. Ing-Moody said the town could not unilaterally initiate negoations on a new contract, but could do so if the union requested it. She says the town has little flexibility to make changes in pay and other expenditures until a new budget for 2024 is developed.

The task now for Twisp is finding new officers, something police departments across the nation have found difficult. The town has advertised for a new chief, offering a 10-thousand dollar hiring bonus – but there have been no applicants. Ing-Moody says the town may direct some existing budgeted funds to increase the police chief's 84-thousand dollar a year salary and support a two-officer department until it can figure out how to fund three officers.

There's much more on this story at methowvalleynews-dot-com.

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