SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash --- The $300,000 grant the state gave to local law enforcement to fight property crimes has run out.
The Spokane County Sheriff, Ozzie Knezovich, said the grant was great to get, but it only solved the property crime problem for about three months.
He said what they were able to do during that time proves they need more funding and resources if Spokane is going to get serious about cracking down on property crime.
“It showed what we can do if you give us the proper funding,” said Sheriff Knezovich.
From March 1 to June 30, the grant money was used to form a property crime task force. During that short time period the sheriff’s office said they were able to decrease burglaries, theft, vehicle prowling and vehicle theft.
64 people were booked into jail and a total of 727 new felony charges were added, but by July 24 only 12 of those people were still behind bars. The rest were released, and of that group only five people were arrested more than once.
“The day that you become hard on property crimes, is the day you fix the criminal justice system, that these people are held accountable and they are not re-released into our community to victimize more people,” said Sheriff Knezovich.
Now that the grant money has run out, the sheriff said we are back to square one with not enough resources to fight property crime.
“We have crimes that we know there is a suspect for, but we don’t have the staff to deal with it,” said Sheriff Knezovich.
As you can see, that means there is not enough money and resources for law enforcement to solve every property crime.
“We know straight up we know that we have crimes that have been committed, we have the evidence, but if I had a detective we would solve it. I don’t have a detective to solve it. We’re really solving the worst of the worst and there is at least 33 percent that are dropping off the back end,” said Sheriff Knezovich.
To give you an idea of the staffing and resource issue, in 2008 the sheriff said they had 18 property crime detectives just for the unincorporated areas of Spokane County. They are down to six property crime detectives for all of Spokane County now.
The sheriff said without additional funding they are back to only responding to property crimes instead of preventing them.