Better think again before releasing Fido for his morning stroll, as Sunnyside's animal control officer will begin making rounds in the early morning hours.
"We wanted to have an animal control emphasis during the hours when children are going to school," said Police Chief Ed Radder. He noted the problem is dog owners who let pets loose for a morning run, which then begin tagging alongside children on the way to school.
Radder added the control officer's hours will vary during the course of the year to ensure adequate enforcement. Sunnyside and Wapato contract together on a shared animal control officer through the Humane Society.
The temporary change in animal control scheduling was discussed during the city council's 2006 budget workshop held last night (Monday).
The third of four budget meetings, the informal session also addressed proposed changes in the police department for 2006:
• The department would bring on two additional correction officers to enable two more police officers to patrol the streets. That, in turn, would enable Sunnyside to have a "truly 24/7" presence, noted Radder.
• Sunnyside's proposed 2006 budget would provide more portable police radios and tazers for every shift of police officers. "The idea is to have everyone trained up (on the use of tazers) and have one available on every shift," said Deputy Police Chief Phil Schenck.
Radder explained that tazers, a "less than lethal" tool to discourage suspects from scuffling with officers, would be handed over from patrols going off duty to those going on duty as part of the typical daily schedule.
• Under the proposed 2006 budget, the police department would hire an arson investigator/SWAT paramedic.
Radder said the position would likely be filled by hiring someone from the fire department, noting it would be easier to train a paramedic in police procedures than training a police officer to be a paramedic.
In other news from Monday's budget workshop, city staff proposed spending $4,500 per year for city staff uniforms and Public Works Director Jim Bridges described the need for central computerized programming of sewer lift stations.
"As it is now the guys spend about three hours of windshield time (driving from one location to another and inspecting lift stations on site)," noted Bridges.
The alternative, he proposed, is installing a system where the city's entire sewer operation could be monitored at one location, freeing city crews to respond where needed.
Sunnyside's fourth and final budget workshop is tonight, Tuesday, at 6:30 p.m. at the Law and Justice Building.