HAYDEN, Idaho - Every second counts when you're faced with an emergency -- but those living in Hayden have to wait an average of nearly ten minutes for cops to show up when they call 911. That could all change, should voters approve a certain measure on this year's ballot.
The city doesn't have its own police department. Instead, the city has a contract with the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office, which designates four deputies to patrol the city of 15,000 people. Those officers need to go to where the calls are coming from and with so much ground to cover, it's not uncommon for them to get pulled away to other cities in the county.
"There were times, we were told by our Captain Street, that the city of Hayden did not have any police coverage," said city administrator Brett Boyer.
The city's current contract with the sheriff's office is worth about $300,000. The measure on this year's ballot asks voters to spend a combined $403,506 to double the number of deputies dedicated to Hayden. If approved, four of those officers would stay in the city for 24/7 coverage.
Boyer said if voters approve the increase, the city would still save millions of dollars. He estimates a city police department would cost about $3 million.
On average, it takes deputies about nine minutes to respond to emergency calls in Hayden.
"So at times, there aren't any Hayden deputies on and so the deputy that's responding to a call in Hayden for whatever the situation may be -- a domestic, a citizen that has a question about something -- could be coming from as far as Harrison," said Lt. Ryan Higgins. "You know, someone's breaking into your house -- 9 minutes, by the time we get there, they're long gone."
That response time would likely go down in Hayden and other cities across the county if voters sign off on the base budget increase.
"It really taxes the other areas within the county and the other customers within the county that we're focusing all our patrols in Hayden because -- it's a lot of calls," said Lt. Higgins.
At $4.23 a month for someone with a home worth $300,000, Boyer estimates the increase would cost about $51 a year. The measure needs a 60 percent majority approval to pass.
"If [it doesn't pass], then we're still gonna provide service," said Lt. Higgins. "Our response time will just be extended like it is now."
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