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Legend's grant will boost leadership roles at sheriff's office

Sheriff's patrols in the Lower Yakima Valley will now have proper supervision thanks to a grant the Yakima County Sheriff's Office received from Legends Casino in Toppenish.

The $170,000 grant was awarded in May and will fund the replacement of three radio consoles the sheriff's office uses in its dispatch center. Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin said the consoles are old and outdated, making it difficult and costly to repair.

Because the sheriff's office received the grant, money that was going to be used to replace the radio consoles will now instead be used to recall four sergeants that were demoted due to budget constraints at the start of 2011. Another factor helping with recalling the sergeants is that the sheriff's office is running at approximately 1 percent under budget. Irwin said the extra funds will be sufficient to carry the promotions through 2012.

The move won't put any extra deputies on the road, Irwin said, but it will allow each shift to be staffed with a supervising sergeant.

"For the 2011 budget we had to cut our first line supervision on patrol in half," Irwin said. "Instead of having a sergeant in the upper and lower valleys we just had one. That didn't work well."

Deputies being recalled to sergeant include Judd Towell, Cory Sanderson, Bob Udell and Bill Splawn.

For the time being, Udell will remain in the detective bureau as sergeant until September to clean up cases and then go back out on the road as a patrol sergeant.

Splawn will remain in the detective bureau and will be recalled to detective sergeant when Udell transfers out of the bureau. He will remain in the bureau until Dec. 31 to clean up cases, including three homicide cases. Irwin couldn't immediately recall which cases they were, but noted they were all from the Lower Yakima Valley.

Irwin said that reinstating the sheriff's office first level of leadership was a top priority and absolutely essential as the YSO looks for new strategies to move the sheriff's office forward.

"We will now have a sergeant on every shift in the Lower Valley," he said. "There is enough that goes on that you really need that supervision 24/7."

Currently the Yakima County Sheriff's office has 35 deputies and seven officers in the detective bureau.

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