Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) announced today that the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program has approved $2.7 million for the King County Police Department to help pay for the salary and benefits to hire additional sworn officers to perform community policing and homeland security activities. The funding comes from COPS Universal Hiring Program (UHD) and will permit the addition of 15 positions dedicated to the investigation and conclusion of the Green River Serial Killer investigation with the King County Police Department over the next three years.
“I’m very excited about the release of today’s funding,” Smith said. “The Green River case is the largest unsolved serial murder case in U.S. history and the extraordinary scope and magnitude of the investigation exceeds the capacity of our local resources. This has been a 20-year investigation, with over 10,000 pieces of case evidence gathered and over 1 million pages of case files collected. Due to budget constraints the Sheriff has been forced to pull detectives off the case and rearrange department rosters to continue work. Today’s announcement is great news for the department and great news for the people of South Puget Sound – we’re moving forward to get this case wrapped up.”
Smith has been working with the King County Police Department for the last three years to secure the funding and federal support necessary to conclude this case and has secured $750,000 in federal earmarks explicitly for DNA testing in the Green River Killer investigation in the Commerce, Justice and State Appropriation Bill in Fiscal Year 2002 and the Omnibus Appropriations Bill in Fiscal Year 2003. Today’s hiring funding announcement is the latest in a long series of steps that Smith has taken to ensure the department’s success in this case.
Last month, Smith authored a letter, signed also by Washington Reps. Jennifer Dunn, Jim McDermott and Jay Inslee to COPS Director Carl Peed request these discretionary funds under the COPS Universal Hiring Program to fund nine positions for the King County Washington Sheriff’s Office. Smith declared that the officers would be dedicated to investigating the Green River Serial Murder cases, and requested a full waiver of the local match requirements for these positions for 3 years due to fiscal distress affecting King County, the King County Sheriff’s Office, and Washington State. It is from this letter that today’s funding announcement stems.
The UHD program provides up to 75 percent of the total cost of salary and benefits of each new officer over a period of three years, up to a maximum of $75,000 per officer. COPS has awarded more than $6.8 billion in grants to over 12,900 law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring of more than 117,000 officers. In addition to helping local law enforcement agencies expand their ranks, the COPS Office also provides community policing training and technical assistance.
For more information on the UHD program, please visit www.cops.usdoj.gov. To speak with the King County Police Department, please contact Sergeant Kevin Fagerstrom, Media Relations Officer at (206) 296-7528.