The Kitsap County Commissioners have asked all departments to cut their budgets for 2021 and have recently heard each department make their case during budget hearings held over Zoom.

The most dramatic of these was a meeting with Sheriff Gary Simpson. Sheriff Simpson claimed a 10% cut would eliminate any preventative policing and force the department only to handle the basics, including prioritizing 911 calls.

Yet in the same meeting, they also provided a powerful argument for further cuts. Chief Rufener, who runs corrections, said many people they deal with have health and mental health issues. Because society has decided not to invest in health and mental health, Rufener says, the police department is left having to deal with the social problems caused by people who need help. Chief Simpson, at the end of the meeting, made the same call to the commissioners, that the community should invest in health/mental health so the police can do what they are meant for, fighting crime.

In the days and weeks ahead, the commissioners have an opportunity to head the call. Unfortunately, since more than $40 million (40+%) of the budget is policing, the commissioners have to ask some hard questions, what does a 21st Century county budget look like.

Max Khailo, SilverdaleĀ 

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