UPDATE: Omak Police Chief Jeff Koplin said his department will have a full complement officers on the grounds, but is not hiring out-of-area officers this year.
In years past the city hired as many as seven officers from Ellensburg to assist during Stampede because the assistance couldn’t be obtained locally.
"The Omak Police Department has been fully staffed with all our officer positions full for over two years now," he said. " We are finally at the point where our police Department can fully and effectively provide law enforcement services over Stampede week without the added cost of hiring additional officers."
He said he welcomes the additional help from the sheriff's office.
OMAK – Law enforcement will be present at the Omak Stampede this year, despite the city deciding not to add temporary officers to its ranks for the weekend.
Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said while city budget cuts mean Omak is not hiring additional law enforcement for the event, his office, Colville Tribal Police, the Washington State Patrol and Stampede’s contract security force will be out in force. Omak Police Department will be present with its regular staff.
“We just want everyone to understand that there will be security and law enforcement presence during the Stampede weekend,” Rogers said. “The sheriff’s office has always had extra staff for the Stampede, to mainly cover the outside area around Omak and to respond to the grounds if needed.”
The sheriff’s office is bringing in two different squads for the event during the evening hours. There will be between seven and eight deputies working the Stampede grounds on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with additional deputies in the surrounding area. Washington State Patrol is always at the event.
Also besides law enforcement presence, Staff Pro Security is also on the grounds, “does an excellent job and works very well will all the local entities,” Rogers said.
He said the sheriff’s office will join tribal police at the law enforcement command post to assist with any issues that arise during the event, anywhere in the park “and will respond to assist Omak Police Department with anything they have.”
His office also is joining with LifeLine Ambulance and will have Jet Skis at the tribal command post to respond to any water-related issues.
“We just want to make sure everyone enjoys the Stampede; our No. 1 concern is for those that attend Stampede and those that live here,” he said. “Rest assured, we are there so you can enjoy the weekend.
“Our main concern from law enforcement, fire and EMS is that the heat is going be extremely high this year for Thursday and Friday. Please stayed hydrated and watch yourselves and those around you for heat-related illnesses. This is something we really want you to stress with everyone this year.”
Rogers, who plans to retire when his term runs out at the end of December, said he’s been working as a cop in Okanogan County for 35 years and hasn’t missed one.
“I am not going to miss my last one as a cop,” he said. “We will be there. Use precautions and common sense for the heat, but the main thing is, Stampede has been part of Okanogan County history for 85 years. Go enjoy it. It only happens once a year.”