COULEE DAM In the wake of a federal government decision to have Grand Coulee police patrol dam facilities, Coulee Dam’s police chief has told neighboring Grand Coulee its police officers aren’t welcome in his city.
Chief Pat Collins’ decision apparently affects Grand Coulee’s ability to operate under the $1.6 million contract since some of the dam’s facilities are within Coulee Dam.
Coulee Dam City Attorney Mick Howe said he’s aware of the rift, but hasn’t been involved in the decision-making process.
He said Collins has the authority to cancel Coulee Dam’s mutual aid agreement with Grand Coulee.
Police chiefs and mayors of the two cities could not be reached for comment.
Dam spokeswoman Lynn Brougher said Bureau of Reclamation officials are trying to work out the problem with the two cities’ officials.
“We expect if there are any emergency situations that law enforcement in the area would respond as they would with any other emergency situation,” she said.
The Bureau of Reclamation announced Sept. 20 that it had awarded a $1.6 million contract for law enforcement services at Grand Coulee Dam to the city of Grand Coulee.
The contract calls for providing law enforcement services at the Grand Coulee Power Office in areas where the office’s guard service does not have authority or jurisdiction, and providing support to the guard services in the case of an emergency.
Services are expected 24 hours a day, each day of the year.
The total contract amount will be awarded over a three-year period, assuming satisfactory performance each year, the bureau said.
In the past, the two cities split the contract.
Collins has said his department will have to lay off two officers and sell two police cars. The contract had accounted for four officers, their training and equipment.
Grand Coulee Police Chief Mel Hunt has said his department is short on personnel and won’t be able to fill any positions until next summer.
“Law enforcement services at Grand Coulee Dam are essential for the safety of our employees, the general public and our facilities,” dam Power Manager Mark Jenson said. “Safeguarding our staff, visitors, and property is a top priority.”