It is such a beautiful morning. God bless our first responders.
Key takeaways from our amazing Chief Ryan Wilkie who sent his concerns in an email to our current mayor and council on 9/12. We can't thank him enough for caring so much about our community and we will continue to support and back our dedicated Chief!
As the above subject line indicates we are less than 3 weeks from the contract expiring between the Ada County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Eagle for providing police services. At the time of this email- we still do not have a signed agreement.
I am writing this email to inform you the delay in solidifying the agreement has caused much turmoil amongst our officers. I am also writing this to inform you and the council that this email comes on the heels of another Eagle deputy informing me of his intention to leave the Eagle Police. The reason? The lack of support from the City of Eagle, coupled with staffing concerns due to lack of personnel.
This makes five deputies and one sergeant that are leaving at the end of this month. Collectively over 50+ years of experience. Yes, we have plans in place to replace the spots, but the city loses the Eagle knowledge in the long run.
I will preface the remainder of this email by stating my intention is not to offend or make anyone defensive but merely make everyone aware of what is happening and offer my professional perspective.
Over the past several months, this contract uncertainty has grown animosity amongst our ranks. The Eagle Police Department has watched this council approve an annexation to nearly double the city in size geographically and raise the population to approximately 36,560.
All of this process/annexation being done with no plans to increase police presence. Early on in the Avimor process, we had plans to initially add two deputies with this annexation. Since its completion? Not a single mention of those employees being added.
Mayor, to quote a statement you made on record, “We will be providing better Police service if it (Avimor) were to be annexed into the city..” These are the types of statements that have our police officers seeking jobs elsewhere. Statements such as these insinuate support but prove to be empty promises.
Recently, in your Facebook post regarding “disturbing questions about policing in Eagle” you stated, “We currently contract with the Ada County Sheriff's Department for enhanced services and have county officers who represent us as Eagle police.”
First- we are the Eagle Police Department. We were stood up at the behest of the city in 1996 as the Eagle Police Department. Not solely as “enhanced services” but as a department to serve the Eagle community.
Second- The term contract alone insinuates a lack of understanding in what we do and who we are. We have deputies assigned to the Eagle Police Department who work hard to make this community safe. Our Officers are invested in this city and the Eagle residents. They learn the city, they know the players, they learn the streets and schools. Our deputies go above and beyond to not only solve crimes, but solve problems within our town. It’s a department within the city-staffed by highly trained county personnel: provided via contract to save the city overhead cost. However, we view this department as a partnership. Over the last few years, it has not felt as such.
Let me further explain with another line from your post; “What we have been doing is making sure that we are receiving the services we are paying for as eagle residents both in our city and county taxes.” Coupling this line with the previous statement further implies a lack of trust and suggests that the Ada County Sheriff’s Office has been providing substandard service.
Your Eagle police department heard these statements as well. Let me remind you we have a department of 25 commissioned/sworn deputies to cover over 36,000 residents and over 60 square miles: Let’s give these numbers some perspective:
Rexburg - population: 39,000, size: 10 Sq Mi, Police Dept: website- 33 sworn + 5 Part-Time officers (budget, 5.3 million)
Post Falls - population: 38,000, size: 14 Sq Mi, Police Dept: 50 sworn (budget 7.4 million)
Lewiston - population: 34,000, size: 18 Sq Mi, Police Dept: website- 46 sworn (budget 7+ million, approximate)
Garden City - population: 13,000, size: 4 Sq Mi, Police Dept: 26 sworn (budget 5.9 million)
Twin Falls - population: 53,000, size: 18 Sq Mi, Police Dept: 77 sworn (budget 11 million)
EAGLE- Population: 36,560, Size: 60 Sq Mi, Police Dept: 25 Sworn (3 Non-Commissioned budget 2024- 4.2million)
Note: Over 20 percent of the Eagle police staff are slated to transfer or are in the process to leave.
I am not sure when the Eagle Police Department became merely a contract and not an investment in the future of this great city. For the past two years, I have approached the council for multiple deputies to address the needs of our community.
Fiscal years 2023 and now 2024 have been declined. The last time deputies were added was fiscal 2022 (October 2021) and increased our staffing from 23 to 25. Per City staff, Eagle grows at one thousand residents per year. Given that math, even if we were caught up, we are now down three additional police officers since we last added personnel.
Over the course of the past nine months, our deputies put their lives on the line as they have sworn to do. They have responded to incidents of murder/suicide, murder, rape, domestic violence, crashes involving children (You get the point) All within the city of Eagle.
In closing, “We all live in Eagle because it is a safe, clean community and as mayor I will never compromise when it comes to our safety or police officers.” We work hard to keep Eagle a safe community, but you are absolutely compromising the safety of the citizens of Eagle and the City of Eagle Police Department’s Officers by failing to properly staff this department now and for the growth on the horizon.
I truly hope this email is received as intended, submitted with no political undertones and only the perspective from your Chief of Police with 20 years of experience in law enforcement. My only concern is for the safety of Eagle and the men and women who serve the Eagle Community.
Respectfully submitted, Chief Ryan Wilkie