Ellensburg sees better weather and more police cars

Libby Williams, Staff Reporter

The number of law enforcement driving around Ellensburg has seemed to increase in recent weeks, including vehicles from other cities and counties. 

State Trooper John Bryant said it can be chalked up to better weather and a decrease in COVID-19 restrictions, leading to a higher demand for officers to keep everyone safe. 

“The weather’s been getting better, there’s more events that … might lead to people having a little too much fun, like Cinco De Mayo,” Bryant said. “The weekends are getting busier, folks are starting to go out a lot more with the loosening of COVID restrictions. So, they’re out a lot more, we need to be out a lot more.”

Bryant, a patrol officer with an emphasis in public information, said there has always been more officers than people realize, and getting out more might make it seem like there’s a sudden uptick.

“Central Washington University has about a dozen fully commissioned officers, Ellensburg P.D. has about 30, the sheriff’s office will take you up to 40, with 17 or so on reserve, and the patrol has two different attachments in the area,” Bryant said. 

Students and locals may have also noticed law enforcement vehicles from other cities. Bryant said that could be because of our location relative to the rest of the state.

“Ellensburg is a center-point in the state for traveling because of I-90, it’s the easiest way to get back and forth to the west side,” Bryant said. “So, you have a lot of different types of troopers and law enforcement agencies coming through for meetings, to get fuel, to stop at different places. It’s busier than you think in terms of law enforcement coming through.”

Bryant said with classes being online and fewer students living on campus, it may have seemed like there were fewer cops around, but students can expect that with classes returning to in-person in the fall, there could be an increase in law enforcement. 

“There’s not a lot of students there because of COVID … we probably haven’t been in town as much as we usually would when there’s full capacity students, and you’ve got the Friday nights and all the businesses open,” Bryant said. “When that comes back, weekend nights we’ll be driving around along with the county and CWU … just to keep everybody safe on the streets.”

Bryant said the main concern for law enforcement, especially in Kittitas county, is keeping drivers safe on the road. 

“We put a lot of emphasis on seat belts, whether in town or on the highway … distracted driving is also a big problem, as well as driving under the influence,” Bryant said. “Anytime we stop an impared driver or someone who’s speeding or not wearing a seat belt, we’re saving a life, because a lot of our fatalities come from those things.” 

Bryant said that if you do decide to drink, be safe about it. Get a designated driver or walk, just don’t get behind the wheel. 

“We love designated drivers,” he said. “It’s always worked and it always will, so please, please, keep that tradition up.”