Press Releases

Herrera Beutler Secures Committee Approval for Cowlitz County Law Enforcement Priorities

$2.179 million to fund Cowlitz County Public Safety Radio Technology; $215,000 to fund Longview’s De-Escalation Police Training Simulator Over $7.4 million total for other Southwest Washington law enforcement operations included in committee-approved spending plan

Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler announced today she secured $2.179 million to fund the Cowlitz County Public Safety Radio Technology Modernization & Radio System Microwave Replacement Project and $215,000 to fund Longview’s De-Escalation Police Training Simulator in a spending plan advanced by the U.S. House Appropriations Committee. The projects are supported by the City of Longview, the Kelso Police Department, and the Longview Police Department.

As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Herrera Beutler advocated for the inclusion of these community-requested priorities in the FY23 Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee Appropriations bill. The bill now awaits approval from the full U.S. House of Representatives.

These Cowlitz County-specific projects are 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 the disturbing rise in crime, I’ve been hearing from Cowlitz County residents concerned about the dangers it poses to their families, homes, and businesses. Staffing shortages and damaging ‘defund the police’ rhetoric have not helped - it’s more important than ever to support our Cowlitz County law enforcement officers,” Herrera Beutler said. “Given this need to support law enforcement, I was pleased to advance in Congress these community-backed requests that will ensure our police officers and first responders in Cowlitz County will be well-equipped and well-trained to keep residents of our communities safe.”

“We are appreciative of any funding that helps prepare the men and women of law enforcement to better serve their communities. The safety of our officers is always at the forefront of my mind, and this will enhance that,” Kelso Police Chief Darr Kirk.

“In the ever-changing world of Law Enforcement, it is imperative that we continue to seek innovative teaching opportunities so that we can provide the highest level of policing services to our community. We greatly appreciate the funding support for the training simulator,” Longview Police Chief Robert Huhta said.

“Cowlitz 911 is pleased to know that our request for $2.1 million in funding for a new radio system is progressing through the House of Representatives. These funds will allow Cowlitz 911 to enhance our emergency radio communications system to provide for reliable dispatch capabilities to our first responder agencies we serve. This much-needed upgrade will greatly assist us in providing the best in public safety service to the citizens of Cowlitz County. Thanks to the offices of Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell for putting this proposal forward and supporting local public safety initiatives,” Cowlitz County Sheriff Brad Thurman said.

“We are extremely thankful for Congresswoman Herrera Beutler’s efforts in securing funding for the Cowlitz County Radio Equipment project. This funding is important to replacing obsolete and failing public safety equipment. Communication failures are one of the largest contributing factors to Firefighter Line of Duty Deaths. Upgrading our radio equipment will enhance firefighter safety, allow us to respond more effectively to emergency situations, which improves our service to the members of our community,” Cowlitz County Fire Chief Scott Neves said.

 

Cowlitz County project funding details:

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.