(The Center Square) – The Yakima Police Department’s staffing shortage caused its officers to work overtime totaling more than $2 million in 2023.
According to an update from Yakima Police Chief Matthew Murray earlier this month, the department is down 24 police officers, creating a staffing crisis for Yakima.
In turn, the use of overtime for the department in 2023 totaled approximately $2.08 million, according to data collected by The Center Square.
The city noted that the $2.08 million could change slightly if prior period adjustments are submitted for time in 2023, or if any audits discover adjustments are needed.
Last year the department typically had eight police officers working throughout the city at a given time. It drops down to six officers overnight.
Since 2017, the Yakima Police Department has operated with an unusually high number of vacancies in its patrol division, according to the 2023-2024 budget. Overtime has been required to meet minimum staffing levels within the department since.
The $2.08 million spent on overtime nearly outweighs the $2.3 million dedicated to police operations in the city’s 2023 budget.
Despite minimal staffing, preliminary data from the Uniform Crime Report showed a decrease in crime throughout all categories, except for narcotics.
Through Dec. 20 of last year, there was a 13% decrease in aggravated assault, a 50% decrease in robberies, and a 26% drop in property damage, according to preliminary data.
The Yakima Police Department is currently facing a budget deficit of $1.2 million that is anticipated to reach $1.38 million in 2025. The Center Square previously reported on the city requiring all of its departments to identify significant reductions to reach a goal of $7.2 million in savings last year.
The Yakima Police Department is allotted about 44% of the city’s biennial budget. Salary and benefits represent 84% of the police department’s biennial budget, so cuts to its staff were proposed.
The Center Square reached out to city officials for comment on the $2.08 million used for overtime, but did not receive a response at the time of publication.