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Mayor Cline - don't bother me with facts or public input
Original post made
by Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Jul 17, 2010
Menlo Park Mayor Cline has just held another secret meeting - with himself. Such a meeting is perfectly legal but unwise. He has decided that Menlo Park will not even consider outsourcing its police services - a decision made without any staff analysis, without any public discussion and without any public input.
Menlo Park has a police services budget of $14,689,025 and spends $477 per capita on those services. Woodside spends $242 per capita, Portola Valley spends just $111 per capita and San Carlos has just negotiated a contract with the Sheriff which will cost $249 per capita. Menlo Park could easily save $6-7 million per year and avoid any future unfunded pension liabilities by outsourcing police services to the Sheriff.
The Menlo Park Council routinely spends hours discussing budget items that are less than $100,000 but somehow Mayor Cline feels that doing a fact based analysis on police outsourcing and having public discussion and input on this issue is simply unnecessary.
Oh well, why worry about a $7 million/year savings for every year going forward?
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 18, 2010 at 8:24 pm
Truth states:"You want to sell out our future by outsourcing our police without any research of service levels in comparable towns,"
Truth needs to do her homework and to read other postings - like these:
Posted by POGO, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood
Whenever a local city or town has looked to outsource police services they have ended up with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department. The latest city to do this is San Carlos (other cities include Woodside and Portola Valley).
Once you investigate other police departments, it becomes evident that the quality of service from the Sheriff's Department is difficult to beat. They have superbly trained deputies, equipment, capability and control lots of assets such as jails, dispatch, emergency services, etc. Additionally, the Sheriff's Department does not identify with a "home city" (such as Redwood City) - they are a county-wide service and already cover the entire county from end to end. They are also very familiar with your town because they frequently come in as part of mutual aid.
From first-hand experience I can say that their service to Woodside has been top notch. We know and respect our local deputies and I wouldn't trade them for anything.
How San Carlos will save money by outsourcing cops
At first glance, the dollars to justify outsourcing police service for San Carlos don't seem to add up.
The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office says it can hire everyone in the San Carlos Police Department, hand out raises and maintain the same of level of service around the clock all while saving the city $2.1 million.
Chalk it up to economies of scale gained when a small city outsources public safety to a much larger organization, say county and city officials. Or, as San Carlos Council Member Andy Klein summed it up at a recent council meeting, "it all has to do with the back bench."
The council last week authorized city staff to find out how sheriff's officials plan to offer the same level of police service for $6.8 million a year that San Carlos now pays $8.9 million to receive. The council expects to consider a final contract later this year.
The city police department, which has 32 sworn officers, including command brass, and eight non-sworn employees, assigns three officers and a sergeant to each eight-hour shift. That allows them to handle two incidents with a backup at any given time, said City Manager Mark Weiss.
To maintain that staffing level 24/7, the city has to keep enough officers on the payroll to ensure they have enough backup when someone is sick, gets hurt on the job, goes on vacation or is unavailable for some other reason, Weiss said.
"What we've found is we need our 32 positions to maintain
our three-and-one staffing level, and even then we're using some overtime," Weiss said. The police department paid $319,421 in overtime last year, records show.
By contrast, the much larger sheriff's office with about 620 employees, including 450 sworn personnel needs to assign only 19 sworn staff to San Carlos full-time to maintain the same three-and-one staffing because it has a larger "bench" of deputies who can be redeployed to cover when needed in San Carlos.
"Someone gets sick, someone gets hurt, (the sheriff has) people to fill in," Klein said last week, "but when you're your own department, you can't call your friends up the road and go, 'Hey can you lend us a couple guys?' That doesn't happen, that's why we have to have a much larger number."
Sheriff Greg Munks said the city is "kind of buying an insurance policy that they'll always have a certain level of staffing, and we guarantee it because we have a bigger department and we're able to bring people in if they're not there."
San Carlos officials say rising salaries and benefits have eclipsed savings from cutting seven police positions over the past decade. Paying $2.1 million less for police service is especially crucial now as the city tries to eliminate a $3.5 million budget deficit, they note.
Munks said sheriff's office staffing patterns will dictate whether and how often he'll need to pay overtime to keep the city fully covered. The sheriff's office spent $21.7 million on overtime last year, according to public records.
For the city, "all they care about and what they'll see is the body will be there," Munks said. "It might be a body we moved from another beat, or it might be somebody that signed up to work overtime for that spot."
Munks said he has kept about 30 positions in his department open in anticipation of absorbing everyone in San Carlos, in addition to the 19 sworn positions that will be assigned to the city.
That means many current San Carlos officers will likely be doing other jobs for the sheriff's office, including staffing jails, providing court security or patrolling unincorporated areas.
The change also will likely result in a pay bump for San Carlos officers, who for years have been paid less than those in many other Peninsula cities, though officials emphasize those figures will be hashed out in negotiations.
Sheriff's deputies make between $79,477 and $99,341 in base salary, not including pay for special assignments or overtime that could add tens of thousands of dollars to their take-home totals. San Carlos officers make base salaries of between $73,394 and $89,211.
In the sheriff's office proposal, deputies assigned to San Carlos each would come at a cost of $269,855, sergeants $324,865 and captains $339,510.
But Weiss said such figures are misleading because they are "fully-loaded" positions that include all the costs of keeping cops on the street.
In addition to salaries and benefits, the costs include 427 "relief hours" per year for absent officers, uniform allowance, human resources services, liability insurance, safety equipment and training.
Besides $6 million for staff, the sheriff's office proposal factors in $342,000 for the use of 18 vehicles and $400,000 for miscellaneous expenses.
Munks said his office will be able to provide San Carlos with specialized services such as multiple detectives for a homicide investigation or deployment of a helicopter for a search. The parties still need to negotiate the cost of overtime to staff special events, such as the city's summertime Hot Harvest Nights farmers market.
Another source of savings will come from having fewer command staff assigned to San Carlos. The city department currently has eight positions in its management ranks a chief, two commanders and five sergeants.
The sheriff's proposal calls for assigning five full-time managers one captain and four sergeants to oversee 12 patrol deputies, a detective, a motorcycle traffic officer, four part-time community service officers and four non-sworn administrative staff.
"I think that's just a recognition that that's what regionalism means," Weiss said of the shared management. "We're trying to be more efficient."
It's not yet clear whether all the sergeants and commanders in the San Carlos department will have management positions in the sheriff's office, Munks said, adding he expects police Chief Greg Rothaus will move into a captain position.
Munks said his office's experience in providing contracted service to Woodside and Portola Valley makes him confident that the numbers in the San Carlos proposal are accurate.
Weiss said the city also plans to verify Munks' calculations, though his main concern is that the sheriff can deliver on his proposal.
"From the city's perspective, that's kind of the key," Weiss said. "What's the bottom line on the contract? What service level are you going to get?"
E-mail Shaun Bishop at firstname.lastname@example.org.
San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks says he needs just 23 employees to deliver the same level of service the San Carlos Police Department currently provides with 40 employees, resulting in a cost savings of $2.2 million; it"s mostly because he can draw from a much larger employee base to provide backup if needed.
Position San Carlos San Mateo County sheriff"s proposal
Chief 1 1 (captain)
Commanders 2 0
Sergeants 5 4
Officers/Deputies 21 12
Traffic officer 1 1
Detectives 2 1
Community service officers 4 2
Part-time parking enforcement officer 0 1
Office staff 4 full-time, 2 part-time 2 full-time
TOTAL SWORN POSITIONS 32 19
TOTAL NON-SWORN 8 4
ANNUAL COST: $8.9 million $6.7 million
Source: Commonwealth International Inc.