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Time for Menlo Park to outsource police services

Original post made by Peter Carpenter on Jul 6, 2012

With the Police Chief's departure It is time to stop the bleeding - Menlo Park should outsource its police services to the Sheriff. This will substantially reduce the total cost, remove any future unfunded pension liability and, increase leadership stability. With the much large force the Sheriff's department can more easily promote leaders from within ensuring community knowledge and avoiding relocation costs.

The change over costs would be quites small. San Carlos went through the process last year:

From The Millbrae Patch -

"Before contracting out services, San Carlos employed 32 sworn officers, and the city spent about $8.9 million per year on its police department. After outsourcing, there are now 19 sworn officers, and its annual costs are about $2 million less.

The Sheriff's Office hired all San Carlos police department employees – many of them work in the county jail now. Nine original officers remain patrolling San Carlos.

Although there are fewer officers in San Carlos, the level of service has remained about the same, according to a Sept. 12 City of San Carlos study.

Rothaus said it is because the city does not need to hire extra cops to cover shifts for those sick or on-leave.

The average emergency response time has not changed, and Part 1 crimes, such as rapes, murders, aggravated assault and robbery, have decreased slightly.

The San Carlos Police Department had a better property crime solving rate, while the Sheriff's Office is more effective with violent crimes, according to the study.

Felony arrests increased about 35 percent since the transition, in part due to more regular checks of probationers and parolees conducted by the Sheriff's Office, Rothaus said.

San Carlos conducted two surveys measuring resident's satisfaction with the Sheriff's Office. Out of the 102 surveys completed, citizens were 98 percent satisfied with services. "


The County already operates a county wide dispatch system that serves both the Sheriff and ALL of the fire agencies in the county including MPFPD (which started the county wide fire dispatch consolidation movement) so there would be zero cost of adding MP police dispatch.
Some of the existing MP Police Department space would probably be needed by the Sheriff for a substation but at least part of the existing space would be surplus and hence available for other uses.

And however 'thin' the Sheriff's service may be in the unincorporated areas in the contract areas each contracting city gets to choose its own level of service. Woodside contracts for more officers and pays more, but still far less than Menlo Park. And the same officers are assigned to Woodside on a continuing basis.

Here are the comparative costs:
Agencies which have their own Police Department:


As of the census of 2000, there were

7,194 people

4.9 square miles (12.8 kmē)

Police budget $4.9 M

$681 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


23.7 sq miles

Police budget $29M

$494 per capita

Foster City

As of the census of 2000, there are 28,803


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


As of the census of 2000, there were 28,158


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


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 dept budget $13.46 M

$485 per capita

Menlo Park

As of the census of 2000, there were 30,785


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 $14.69 M

$477.148 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:


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


11.8 square miles (30.5 kmē)

As of the census of 2000, there were

5,352 people

Police services via County Sheriff $1.3 M

$242 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.

The population of Woodside is 5287 as of the 2010 census or a cost of $274 per capita.

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

Arguments against outsourcing? Fear of change.

Comments (9)

Posted by please, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 7, 2012 at 2:41 am

Peter, please focus your destructive energy on your own town. Yes, our police chief is leaving, but Menlo Park is a desirable place to be. We should have no problem find several highly qualified individuals that want this position.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 7, 2012 at 7:33 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Please explain what is 'destructive' about saving millions and improving the quality of police services.

Arguments against outsourcing? Fear of change.

Posted by Joanna, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 7, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Go Outsourcing!

Posted by Michael G Stogner, a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2012 at 2:38 pm

By Please, a person who is afraid to identify him/her self says.

"Peter, please focus your destructive energy on your own town. " This is one of the funniest statements I have seen, No city in San Mateo County should be afraid of outsourcing.

As a resident of San Carlos who opposes the leadership of the Sheriff's Department I can say the experience of having the Sheriff Office take over the San Carlos Police Department has been a POSITIVE one.

Posted by GOLLY, a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Crime is on the rise and will continue as long as there is unemployment and the schemes which are emerging to defraud others is incresing as people go into foreclosure.
I doubt that any outsourcing is going to be of any help when matters get out of hand.
We will then see a lot more ZIMMERMAN'S and innocent victims as ill prepared or trained police departments begin to try and solve projected rise in crime, murder,and impending chaos.
I believe that more vigilante types are going to want instant action instead of all this useless rhetoric and PLAYING BY THE LAW...It works so well in Washington..PAHLEEEEZE.
Paradise is LOST and only those with bunkers and bullet proof SUV's are going to feel safe.
Whenever I see an elderly lady stopped for an traffic infraction, and FOUR squad cars are at the scene, it is time to know where money is going and why protection is dimwitted.I actually have witnessed the above example more than a few times.
These are different times in our history, and they cannot be blamed on anything or anyone except the phenomena of a crumbling society due to more than a lame Congress or a bunch of WWI or II experts who seem to drown you with facts and what they call "reasoning"...
Vigilantes will probably become our alternatives no matter how much bickering goes on between the divided Peninsulans.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 12, 2012 at 7:08 pm


please post under your usual nom de plum - R Gordon. Your non sequitors make it so clear it is you.

Posted by another idea, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 19, 2012 at 5:29 pm

How about Atherton outsourcing their police department to Menlo Park? That would of course save the city of Atherton money. And Menlo PD is much more familiar with their area than the other law enforcement agencies.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Menlo Park and Atherton combined still do not represent an economically efficient police department.

And since the Sheriff generally hires the best officers from any entity that it contracts for local knowledge is assured.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 19, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Another idea:

why would Menlo Park want the glorified private security force that is the Atherton PD patrolling its town? I think you have it backward. If anything Menlo officers could easily take over patrol duties in Atherton. Then the town could hire a private security force to take in their mail, water their lawns, provide lock out service, etc. All jobs that PROFESSIONAL police departments decidedly DO NOT provide. Nor should they.

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