Mercer Island, Bellevue police departments to swap services

Reporter Staff

Earlier this year, the Mercer Island and Bellevue police chiefs began discussing ways to leverage the services of their agencies without increasing costs. Bellevue expressed interest in receiving services from Mercer Island’s Marine Patrol and Dive Team, while Mercer Island hoped to benefit from Bellevue’s SWAT team, specialized forensics, K-9, major investigations and the use of their firing range.

Bellevue proposed the idea of canceling its current contract with King County for marine patrol services on Lake Washington and replacing it with a partnership with Mercer Island. If such a contract were formalized, Mercer Island would no longer be in a position of calling in favors from other police agencies.

No short-term or long-term cost increases are anticipated under the agreement. MIPD patrol boats are frequently in Bellevue’s Lake Washington waters as part of regular patrolling routines. Any changes to how the Mercer Island Marine Patrol operates would be negligible under the proposed agreement. Mercer Island would also receive a percentage of boat tax from Bellevue, totaling approximately $28,000, which would serve to reduce the overall cost of the program. In addition, the MIPD would also avoid the ongoing cost of renting a firing range for low-light practice sessions.

Under the King County Fire Resource Plan, which provides mutual aid assistance for any fire agency within the county, the Bellevue Fire Department sends its units to Mercer Island more often than vice-versa. Under the proposed agreement, any inequities experienced would be recognized and offset to balance the response equation between Mercer Island and Bellevue.

City Councilmembers approved the interloccal agreement at their Jan. 19 meeting.

Mercer Island began its Marine Patrol unit in 1983, having formerly been serviced by King County. Since that time, Mercer Island’s Marine Patrol has expanded to serve the cities of Renton, Medina, Hunts Point and Yarrow Point. Yet the city currently does not have any contracts for the cities’ specialized services, such as SWAT, K-9 and major investigations.

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