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slaughtering the sacred cow

Original post made by michael stevick, Atherton: other, on Sep 8, 2009

I\'ve done the math.

We could contract with Menlo Park, have the same level of protection as our neighbors (as measured by police officers per capita) and
reduce the amount we spend on Police services by 50 percent.

This represents a savings of nearly $2.5 million per year.

With those kinds of savings we would could do away with the parcel tax and have about $800k for public works.

Comments (11)

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Posted by Fiscally Responsible
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Sep 9, 2009 at 12:40 am

Can you provide some detail behind the calculations, and clarification, such as:

- what is the current # officers/resident in Menlo Park?
- what is the current # officers/resident in Atherton?

- why would contracting out with Menlo Park only cost $2.5M? Would the "same level of protection as our neighbors (as measured by police officers per capita)" be an increase or decrease compared with what we have now? (I guess that is answered by the two questions above)...

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Posted by david smith
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Sep 9, 2009 at 6:56 am

I remember that during the summer of 2007 Jerry Carlson was working with the Finance Department to see why the Atherton PD was so expensive relative to its peers.

I guess this issue got lost in the transition and turmoil that happened later in the year.

It really is a shame.

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Posted by Susan
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 9, 2009 at 5:39 pm

The Police were so worried about any scrutiny after they saw the building dept audit--that they Framed and Ran out of town the previous finance director before the council could even ask him to look into anything at P.D.--------Not only did they kill the messenger---they actually scared the poor old mayor into never asking any hard questions again
David--You are right --it really is shamefull

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Posted by Bob R.
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 9, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Let's not turn this into another missive about the Johns firing. This is a valid topic for discussion and I'd hate to see it get deleted.

Jerry Carlson, who was the Treasurer at Hewlett Packard, needn't do any type of complicated analysis with the Finance Department to see why the per capita cost of the Atherton police is so much higher than other communities. As Fiscally Responsible pointed out on the other thread, it's rather obvious. There is a large fixed cost that is invariant to size associated with any police department; a department with 100 officers does not cost ten times as much to operate than a department with ten officers. Thus, the per capita cost of the Atherton Police Department will always be higher than any other city on the peninsula because it's simply the smallest department.

The real issue to consider is how much of the budget is going to the fixed cost, and how much to the actual foot soldiers on patrol. That should frame the issue of whether or not Atherton should outsource.

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Posted by george sichelstiel
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 10, 2009 at 9:34 am

Athertonians are being taken for a ride.

The Atherton PD has, more or less, 20 officers. Of these only 2 are out on the street at any given time, with another sergent at the station house drinking coffee and chatting up the dispatchers.

In military parlance this is a tooth to tail ratio of 10 to 1, not very good for a suburban PD.

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Posted by Wife of a good officer
a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2009 at 2:34 am

The salary is based on a medium ratio of the surrounding agencies annual raises, no more, no less. My husband loves his job and goes out everyday to domestic disputes, house alarms, the schools, and resolves daily issues that sometimes keep him up at night--about your kids, your parents, your grandparents, and your property.

You are smart people, and know when you need help and it's not there, you would be blogging about it.

Did you know they arrest drug dealers in Atherton? It does not always make the paper. Only a small fraction of incidents make the paper. The funny thing is that I read the Police Calls section in the Palo Alto Daily, and laugh, "old lady lost dog" or "contractor noise". There is humor in that, but when that old lady is your mother or the contractor starts digging before 8am, who do you call?

Fortunately we know it's not the officers that are the problem. By the way, it's not the military and we are not at war! Silly...maybe it's disgruntled unhappy people who have too much time on their hands and need to lash out at someone.

Oh, David & Susan, The police dept. asked for the audit. It was the city who kept claiming they had no money to pay the police. Even if the special tax is passed, the PD will see very little.

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Posted by no illusions
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Oct 24, 2009 at 8:43 am

Dear Wife of a Good Officer

If your husband truly is a good officer, and I have no reason to doubt that he is, tell him to run, not walk to the nearest police department for another job.

The last good officer I know was set up on a phony stolen golf club wrap. This officer was an eyewitness to the misconduct of other very highly placed officers in the PD.

The Atherton PD is rotten to the core. If your husband is good and if he stays, he is at risk. That is the cold hard truth of the matter.

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Posted by Why so defensive?
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 24, 2009 at 5:28 pm

Wife of a good officer, if the parcel tax fails and Atherton must merge its police department with the sheriff or, say, Menlo Park, how does that adversely affect you and your husband? He presumably would get a job with the new organization. Perhaps the dispatchers might be worried, as well as the police management, but if he's a "cop on the beat" he simply can be added to the new organization. The point of disbanding the independent police department is to reduce the overhead that's costing too much money. The goal is not to eliminate officers on patrol.

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Posted by Consider
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 15, 2009 at 10:13 am

Maybe this guy has a great idea. We should have the city take another look at this. We can still save money doing this, and we wouldn't have to build a new police station.

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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 3, 2010 at 12:24 am

This thread is from last Sept--but seemed relevant to bring it forward again now

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Posted by holy warrior
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Feb 3, 2010 at 9:22 am

Ed is right, this topic is ripe for revisiting.

Wife of a Good Officer asserts that the Police Department asked for an audit.

I am a longtime resident of Atherton. I do not recall such a request being made. However I will not argue whether or not Wife of a Good Officer is telling the truth or not.

Instead I would call upon the Police Department to ask for an audit now. There is a new chief, who moonlights as a management consultant and should know as well as anybody else the value of having an independent examination of how his department conducts its affairs.

If Wife of a Good Officer is in fact married to a good officer the should not be afraid of the outcome of an audit.

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