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Grand jury: Cities like contracted police services

Original post made on Jul 26, 2013

Three cities that have contracted with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office for police services report significant costs savings without a reduction in services, the county civil grand jury reported Thursday (July 25).

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, July 25, 2013, 9:53 AM

Comments (24)

Posted by Working, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 26, 2013 at 11:04 am

Why isn't Atherton considering this obvious move?


Posted by Wendy Baldwin, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 26, 2013 at 11:07 am

Because we don't want sheriffs from out of town.


Posted by Peter Carpenter , a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 26, 2013 at 11:31 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

IF the parcel tax extension fails then contracting with the sheriff for police services will be the only way to balance the town's budget.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 26, 2013 at 11:59 am

"...we don't want sheriffs from out of town..."

Seriously? Where do you think the deputies live? (Note: there is just ONE County Sheriff and he is elected; the others are called deputies.) They live in the same cities as your Atherton Police Department.

And do you know what happens to your city's police force when a city contracts with the Sheriff's Department? Those police are assimilated into the Sheriff's Department! Imagine that, the same cops just change uniforms.

The savings comes from a small city not having to have its own bureaucracy, management team, dispatch, detectives, training, car maintenance, etc. All of that is handled by the Sheriff's Department in Redwood City. As an added bonus, you pick up SWAT, detectives, a crime lab and the ability to instantly flood your town with countless deputies and squad cars whenever needed.

All in all, not a bad deal. It worked for our city, which has a "clientele" that is just as demanding as Atherton's. We know all of our deputies by name and they provide terrific, polite, professional service.

But you just keep coming up with reasons why it won't work...


Posted by anon, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jul 26, 2013 at 12:12 pm

I'm with Wendy, though would re-word it to be "because I don't care for deputies, not representing my town." I prefer the police we have in place. The benefits of increased armed response from the sheriff (SWAT, etc..) are readily available as needed under the current structure.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 26, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"But you just keep coming up with reasons why it won't work.."

Persistent denials won't change the facts - Atherton could get better police services with many of the same officers at a much lower cost by contracting with the sheriff.


Posted by pro Sheriff, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 27, 2013 at 7:47 am

I used to live in the unincorporated part of Menlo Park, and I found that the Sheriff's police services that covered us were excellent. I once had something stolen, and the Sheriff actually solved the crime and returned my stolen property. I now live in incorporated Menlo Park, and I wish that Menlo Park would also contract with the country for police services. I now live in Menlo Park, and I think we are actually getting negative value for all the extra money we pay to have our own police force. I know of numerous incidents in Menlo Park over the years of overzealous policing, way beyond what was necessary or warranted.


Posted by Steve, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 27, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Pro Sheriff: You can always leave Menlo Park and be happy again!!!


Posted by Pro , a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 27, 2013 at 3:41 pm

cute, but do you have some information to add? I just happened to find it very interesting that the Grand Jury report confirms my own experience about the quality of Sheriff police services.


Posted by Bob Marley, a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2013 at 8:49 am

Menlo Park would be well advised to do what Woodside has done and contract with the County for Police Services.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 29, 2013 at 9:55 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here are some facts which show the potential cost savings of contract with the sheriff for police services. Note that in such contracts each city can determine the range of services to be provided - for example, note the difference between Woodside and Portola Valley which reflects different levels of contracted services.

Agencies which have their own Police Department:

Atherton
As of the census of 2010, there were
6,914 people
4.9 square miles (12.8 kmē)
Police budget $5.6 M in 2012/13
$810 per capita

Redwood City
As of the census[1] of 2008, there were
75,508 people
34.6 sq miles
Police budget $31.7 M
$419 per capita

Palo Alto
As of the census of 2000, there were 58,598
people
23.7 sq miles
Police budget $29M
$494 per capita

Foster City
As of the census of 2000, there are 28,803
people
The city has a total area of 19.9 square
miles (51.6 kmē), of which 3.8 square miles
(9.7 kmē) is land and 16.2 square miles
(41.9 kmē) is water.
Police budget $9.6 M
$333 per capita

Burlingame
As of the census of 2000, there were 28,158
people
The city has a total area of 15.6 kmē (6.0 miē).
11.2 kmē (4.3 miē) of it is land and 4.4 kmē
(1.7 miē) of it (28.19%) is water.
Police budget $9.5M
$337 per capita

Hillsborough
As of the census[5] of 2000, there were
10,825 people
The town has a total area of 6.2 square miles
(16.1 kmē), all of it land.
Police budget $8M
$739 per capita

Los Altos
The population was 27,693 according to the
2000 census.
6.3 square miles (16.4 kmē).
Police budget $13.46 M
$485 per capita

Menlo Park
As of the census of 2010, there were
32,026 people
17.4 square miles (45 km2), of which
10.1 square miles (26 km2) is land
and 7.3 square miles (19 km2) is water.
Police services budget $14.95M
$466.80 per capita

East Palo Alto
As of the census of 2009, there were 35,791 people,
2.6 square miles (6.7 kmē), of which 2.5 square miles (6.6 kmē) are land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 kmē) of it (0.78%) are water.
Police budget $10,262,651
$287 per capita

Agencies which contract out their police services:

Saratoga
The population was 30,318 at the 2007 census.
The city has a total area of 21.1 square miles
(31.4 kmē)
Police costs via County Sheriff $4.34 M
$143 per capita

Woodside
11.8 square miles (30.5 kmē)
As of the census of 2010, there were
5,287 people
Police services via County Sheriff $1.45 M
$274 per capita
new contract 2012/13
The Woodside Town Council approved a budget that included ■ Sheriff's contract: A council majority approved a three-year $1.45 million law enforcement contract with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office. Unlike the annual jumps of 10 percent in previous contracts, this one rises by 4 percent for the first year and 3 percent after that.


Portola Valley
The population was 4,462 at the 2000 census
9.2 square miles (23.7 kmē)
Police services via Sheriff $498,601
$111 per capita

San Carlos
The population was 27.238 in 2008
5.93 square miles
Police services via proposed Sheriff's contract
$6.8 M
$248.62 per capita


Contra Costa County

Excerpt of FY 2011-12 Law Enforcement Comparison Survey – Cost Per Resident
Municipality Cost Per Resident
Moraga $137.44
Lafayette $171.57
Danville $188.33
Oakley $214.50
Orinda $227.25









Posted by Riff Wilkins, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jul 29, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Mr Carpenter as usual has very good, fact driven arguments. I have no disagree with his conclusions. At the same time, there is concern about whether we WILL receive the same level of service as we do now. Will deputy sheriff's be assigned to Atherton, or will any of hundreds of officers rotate through? Will we still have our alarms wired to the sheriff? Will we still get vacation home checks? Will the response be the same? There may be good answers, but no one seems to address these. There are just broad statements like "same service, lower cost." But some detail would be very helpful


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 30, 2013 at 3:54 am

As I said, we've had the same deputies in Woodside for YEARS. We know them by name and I can't imagine better or more professional service.

They do vacation checks on homes but they do not pick up your mail, newspapers or water plants. (Nor would I ever think to ask a law enforcement official to do that. I have neighbors who can do that if necessary.)


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Jul 30, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Sounds like a good plan to me. Why not the fire dept, the school districts


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 30, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The fire district already serves almost 100,000 people in three cities and has been on record for years advocating a large scale regional fire agency. I know of no other local public entity that has advocated for its own abolition via consolidation.

Web Link


Posted by Tom Croft, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 30, 2013 at 3:01 pm

I'm using my real name since you might want to verify some things I plan to say. I've lived at the same Atherton house about 47 years.
An Atherton cop ticketed me in downtown Menlo Park. My complaint was printed by the Almanac, but nobody ever explained why. Before this cop had to appear in court, the charge was dropped.
Two Atherton cops charged through my garage into my back yard with guns drawn. It was July 4, or a few days before. My 3 teenagers saw all this, so we have many witnesses.
We were robbed of fishing gear, tennis rackets, etc. Atherton cops were ineffective but we learned our gear was on sale at Sports Exchange (or some such name, now closed). I went there but their prices were so high I bought only my favorite fly rod. Soon an Atherton detective came to my house, claimed that my purchase upset his investigation, and threatened to jail me.
So, yes, I'd favor the sheriff & have always voted against the parcel tax which is mostly for Atherton cops. I think that tax always passes because the richest among us fund propaganda and/or serve on our council (which is lots of unpaid work).


Posted by History, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 30, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Here's Mr. Croft's letter from the October 27, 2004 Almanac. I'd like to hear the details of the July 4 incident.

Traffic ticket earns vote against Measure O

Editor:

Athertonians are being asked to increase their parcel tax on the grounds that their police force will otherwise lose members.

My experience has been the opposite, that our police have too much paid time on their hands. Here's why:

On August 17 an Atherton motorcycle policeman ticketed me on Menlo Avenue, in Menlo Park, claiming that he had seen me put on my seat belt just before that. Due to an unusual event, I knew otherwise.

Aside from the issue of right or wrong, why is an Atherton cop patrolling in Menlo Park, giving tickets to Atherton home owners like me? I protested by immediate postcard to Atherton police.

On August 23 they phoned me to say my postcard made no difference, and that the ticket stood. Why did the police take the time to call, if they are so short of time?

The parcel tax will give them more spare time to patrol Menlo Park and make phone calls. In my 40 years here, this is the third time Atherton police have wasted my time. Fewer police would make a better town.

Incidentally, a "notice of bail," right or wrong, is best paid. I went to "court," wasted four hours doing so, and got only a continuance; it was all they do. Four days before my "trial by court" my case was "dismissed in the interest of justice."

Thomas A. Croft
Moulton Drive, Atherton


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 30, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Funny, no one can ever objectively defend the existing system of expensive and problematic police services in Atherton. As the post above proves, the best they can do is attack the messenger.

And so it goes.

The truth is that the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department provides professional, dedicated, career law enforcement officers. When you contract for their services, you get tremendous services from a small group of deputies assigned to your town.

No, they don't water lawns, pick up mail or escort your guests to the town line. But they do keep you safe, control traffic, and provide near instant "scale up" when the need arises. And they do it with a single administrative staff in Redwood City that serves the entire county. As a bonus, it's far less expensive because they already have the administrative and maintenance staff in place.

If this arrangement didn't work in Woodside, I assure you that we would have changed long ago.

Now tell us how you think that our deputies don't respond to our alarm systems.

Right...


Posted by O No, a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Jul 30, 2013 at 5:57 pm

"...why is an Atherton cop patrolling in Menlo Park, giving tickets to Atherton home owners like me?"

Apparently, some Atherton residents think they're entitled to a pass when stopped by their own police department. They're somehow above the law.

The audacity to put it in a letter to the editor too. Amazing.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Jul 30, 2013 at 6:03 pm

The real question for Atherton is: If the S.O. absorbed their officers, would the be allowed to continue their duties as armed butlers? That's important info for many of the residents.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 30, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Hmmm:

the answer is no. No professional police force, as the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department is, would do the garbage Atherton has it's Police Officers doing. Taking in mail? Watering lawns? Getting people their keys when they're stupid enough to lock themselves out of their houses? Security checks on homes when the resident is on vacation? All things that can be handles by a private security force at significantly less money.

Escorting guests to the border? Why, because they're drunk? It's not like Atherton is a dangerous town.

I've said it before, and I'm becoming more convinced, the only reason Atherton residents want their own Police Department is because they like having cops kiss their ***es. Is that really worth $2 million a year?


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Jul 30, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Well....if they're willing to pay that hefty pricetag, Menlo Voter, maybe they should keep getting what they want!

I recall a S.O. detective telling me that he once reviewed some "important" video footage from a high priced neighborhood. Thinking that a serious crime had been committed, he viewed it - only to find that the videographer had filmed a neighbor who let his dog do business on the prized bushes of the videographer. The videographer was incensed when he followed up & discovered that the detectives weren't pursuing "the case."

The S.O. isn't perfect - & I can't stand the current sheriff. Taking over another jurisidcition isn't seamless, but in a small town, it wouldn't be that hard.

We had a mixed bag here when the S.O. patrolled in recent years. Many of them did a good job, however, as did their investigators. Plus, they had some difficult cases to deal with.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 30, 2013 at 8:26 pm

I'm thinking most Atherton officers would be happy to go to work with the SO. Of course, they'd take a cut in pay - the county doesn't pay their deputy's contribution to retirement. Then again, maybe not. Never mind.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 30, 2013 at 10:00 pm

So maybe Atherton just has a concierge police service......


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