Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler announced today she secured $1.595 million in federal funds to upgrade Wahkiakum County’s emergency communication system in a spending plan advanced by the U.S. House Appropriations Committee. The project is supported by the Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office.
As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Herrera Beutler advocated for the inclusion of this community-requested priority in the FY23 Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee Appropriations bill. The bill now awaits approval from the full U.S. House of Representatives.
This Wahkiakum County-specific project is included in a total of over $7.4 million in specific funding priorities Herrera Beutler helped secure to support Southwest Washington law enforcement operations, including improving law enforcement radio communication systems, access to police body-worn cameras, and de-escalation training.
“With crime on the rise in Southwest Washington and law enforcement struggling to hire and retain officers, it’s more important than ever to help fund tools so Wahkiakum County law enforcement officers can do their jobs effectively,” Herrera Beutler said. “This is why I went to bat and secured these community-supported requests, ensuring our police officers and first responders have what they need to keep Southwest Washington citizens safe.”
“Wahkiakum County has been in dire need of radio communication upgrades for many years. Currently we don’t have the ability to talk to another first responder on the other end of the county without talking through dispatch, and we have an urgent need to upgrade the radio system. There are very few counties in Washington state that have such limitations. Funding for the project would allow us to enhance communications for all first responders in our county including Fire, Law Enforcement, Emergency Medical Services, Public Works, Utilities, the school district, the Town of Cathlamet, and all other emergency workers. These essential upgrades would allow us to fully serve the public and visitors with a modernized emergency radio system. The public and first responders depend on reliable radio communications and this funding will greatly enhance their safety,” Wahkiakum County Sheriff Mark Howie
“This funding for Wahkiakum County’s Emergency communication system is very important in that this funding will enable us to upgrade the communication system that links all emergency responders together. The current system has been in place for well over twenty years and has been in need of being replaced for the past 10 years. This funding will allow us to bring this system up to date with better and more reliable radios for Wahkiakum County’s first responders,” Wahkiakum County Commissioner Gene Strong said.
Wahkiakum County project funding details:
Wahkiakum County Radio Improvement Project - $1,595,000
- Funding for this project will upgrade the entire county radio system. Unfortunately, the current system is obsolete and inadequate for the population it serves. This system provides the communications for Law Enforcement, Fire, Ems, P.U.D, school district, public works, and the Town of Cathlamet. An upgrade to the emergency communication system will allow all emergency responders to provide better service to the residents of Wahkiakum County. An improved system will also benefit those who travel through the county, as the main route that connects the Long Beach Peninsula to communities inland passes through Wahkiakum County. The safety of both community members and the emergency responders who serve them is reliant on this mission-critical radio equipment, and an upgrade will benefit their well-being.
Other Southwest Washington project details:
Lewis County Public Safety Radio Communications Project - $2,800,000
- Funding for the Lewis County Public Safety Radio Communications project will improve countywide mobile and portable radio coverage, as well as ensure radio system reliability to improve public safety. Replacement of Lewis County Public Safety radio system infrastructure is essential to provide for reliable communications for all Lewis County law enforcement and first responders, 911-related communications, and all state agencies operating within the region.
Cowlitz County Public Safety Radio Technology Modernization & Radio System Microwave Replacement Project - $2,179,000
- Funding would be used to replace the obsolete and failing public safety radio equipment. Cowlitz 911 provides emergency communication and dispatch services to six law enforcement and six Fire/EMS agencies serving more than 100,000 residents. The safety of both community members and the emergency responders who serve them is reliant on this mission-critical radio equipment. Without updates and maintenance to this equipment, responders will be unable to talk to each other or 911 dispatchers, leaving no way for dispatchers to effectively deploy and manage critical resources to emergency situations.
Longview De-Escalation Police Training Simulator Project - $215,000
- Southwest Washington communities continue to experience an increase in violent incidents often involving people with co-occurring substance use disorders and mental health conditions. Federal funds will support the acquisition of a simulator for Longview and Kelso officers to gain experience in a safe training environment that will reinforce good tactics and decision-making. Using an interactive training simulator is a cost-effective way to implement on-going training for officers, in turn allowing them to support the community more effectively and increase public safety.
Battle Ground Public Safety Technology Improvements - $413,000
- Strategic funding will help improve the city of Battle Ground’s safety and emergency response capabilities, which are currently constrained by out-of-date police technology, an inadequate number of outdoor cameras, and limited video storage capacity. Currently, all regional first responders are unable to communicate with each other or the 911 center inside the larger Battle Ground Public School District school locations. In addition, the Battle Ground Police Department relies on video surveillance to expand the department’s reach and capacity with constrained resources. Adequate video surveillance is critical to its ability to protect citizens and property for both immediate intervention of criminal activity and investigating criminal conduct after the fact. Also, installing radio repeaters inside schools ensures reliable communication capabilities in an emergency which increases student safety. Federal funding will help bolster overall community safety with comprehensive technology improvements intended to protect students and residents, as well as public and private property.
Washougal Police Body-Worn Camera Program - $131,000
- Federal funding will support the Washougal Police Department to establish a Police Body Worn Camera program to ensure high-quality service of its officers, increase transparency and openness, and strengthen trust in the community. Body-worn cameras will enable the agency to document all encounters in the field and develop clearer understandings of events, which may assist in the criminal justice process.
Long Beach Police Department Body Camera Project - $95,000
- Funding for body cameras for the Long Beach Police Department will help keep citizens and officers safe. These devices help keep all parties accountable, provide documentation for public records requests and help protect police officers and citizens against false claims of misconduct or abuse. Body cameras have already been implemented at the request of both police officers and communities across the U.S. and have shown measurable benefits to public safety and accountability.