Staffing, Equipment and Community Expectations emerge as challenges for the Lake Forest Park Police Department

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Lake Forest Park Chief of Police Mike Harden presents
challenges to his department in a Zoom call Thursday night
at the city council Budget and Finance Committee meeting
Screenshot from zoom meeting
By Tracy Furutani

“Our community is amazing,” said Lake Forest Park Police Chief Mike Harden. 
“The support from the community is amazing – the emails, the food that they deliver, the community contact – we want to keep maintaining that.”

His remarks were in response to questions about challenges facing the LFP Police Department in the next few months and in the next biennial (2021-22) budget. 

Harden said that re-establishing ties to the LFP community were a priority after the Covid pandemic crisis was past. During the crisis, regular police department outreach, such as the National Night Out, are being severely limited, and even providing the level of service residents have gotten used to pre-pandemic is daunting. 

“We’ve had to get creative,” he said, mentioning the “Book Reading by Lake Forest Park Police” in which officers perform read-alouds of children’s books as an example.

Harden made a presentation titled “Police Department – Current and Future Challenges” at the LFP City Council Budget and Finance Committee meeting last Thursday. Committee chair and councilmember John Resha said the meeting is “the last in the first phase of our budget [development] process,” the other city departments having presented at earlier meetings.

Staffing, equipment and community expectations were the three main categories of challenges facing the LFP PD, according to Harden. 

Retention of current staff and training costs are major concerns in the staffing challenge, even though LFP PD doesn’t have the morale problem that some police department are having. 

As for equipment, Harden cited the department’s use of thirty-year-old radios as an example of an equipment upgrade that will be needed to comply with recent voter-approved Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network (PSERN) standard.

Councilmember Lorri Bodi asked if the department had received any funding from the CARES Act or other federal sources. Harden said that the department had applied for reimbursement of various Covid pandemic-related costs as well as funding for the PSERN-standard radios, but that they had been denied so far.

Harden concluded his presentation by saying that the LFP PD was a “reflection of our city administration, our council, our mayor making the department and the functions that we do a high priority.”


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