SPOKANE, Wash. -- Budgets are tight for law enforcement all over the Inland Northwest, but there is one small luxury that the majority still enjoy. One local agency could spend as much as $100,000 per year on dry cleaning and the taxpayer is paying for it.
KREM 2 on Your Side called more than one dozen law enforcement agencies and the majority pays for dry cleaning. They said they expect their employees to look sharp and professional so they are willing to help pay to make sure they adhere to this standard. Other agencies who do not pay for dry cleaning said their money is better spent elsewhere.
Spokane, Lewiston, Moscow, Pullman, Coeur d’Alene, Latah County, Grant County and Idaho State Police all pay for at least some of their employees' expense. The amounts vary.
The Spokane Police Department spends about $20,000 a year on dry cleaning. Spokane Police officials said they get three bids when they find a dry cleaner to take on the job. They said they make sure to get the best deal to be conservative with taxpayer money.
Lewiston spends less than $100 and will only do it if the uniform was severely dirtied on a call. Latah County spends less than $400.
Idaho State Police spend the most on uniform cleaning. They give their 278 employees the opportunity to spend up to $35 a month on dry cleaning. If each employee uses the benefit, that comes out to nearly $117,000.
Idaho State Police officials said it is rare for all of their employees to utilize that money. ISP officials said last year, only around $23,000 was spent despite the much larger budget.
KREM 2 on Your Side found Washington State Patrol, Whitman County, Kootenai County and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office do not get money for dry cleaning.
Spokane deputies get a uniform allowance every year. Deputies can use the money left over for dry cleaning, if there is any.
Kootenai County does not give their employees any money for uniforms. Washington State Patrol officials said they have tried to bargain dry cleaning into their contracts for years but they have had no luck. Kootenai County officials said they have asked their county commissioners for dry cleaning and it was denied.
All agencies agreed it would be a nice benefit.