The following article was acquired from The Press-Enterprise website and was written by Jeff Horseman.
Study says Riverside County cities shouldn’t form own police force
Cities in Riverside County that use sheriff’s deputies to patrol their streets should stick with the Sheriff’s Department and not hire their own cops, according to a consultant that studied the feasibility of a multi-city police force.
The report from Folsom-based Citygate Associates and commissioned by Canyon Lake, Jurupa Valley, Lake Elsinore, Moreno Valley, San Jacinto, Temecula and Wildomar found it would cost those cities less to stay with the sheriff than to form a joint law enforcement agency, an option pondered in recent years by cities that use deputies to protect their residents.
Sixteen of the county’s 28 cities have contracts with Sheriff Chad Bianco’s department. For years, cities have complained that the contract rates, re-calculated annually to account for inflation, wage hikes and other factors, have risen beyond their ability to pay. For many cities, the sheriff’s contract is the biggest slice of their budget pie.
Citygate’s study, released in February, found that a police joint powers authority serving Canyon Lake, Jurupa Valley, Lake Elsinore, Moreno Valley, San Jacinto, Temecula and Wildomar would have $139 million in personnel costs, compared to the $135.2 million price tag of staying with the sheriff.
Also, a joint powers authority would have $80 million in startup expenses, and that’s assuming the county continued to provide dispatch and radio services “at a reasonable cost,” the study read.
A joint police force would need to recruit, hire, and train 669 personnel and would need two years to ramp up, forcing cities to still pay the sheriff along with funding the new department, according to the study.
The study recommends the cities ask the sheriff to do a workload analysis “to further tailor their costs to the needs of each city.”
Lake Elsinore agrees with Citygate’s recommendation and “will remain diligent by closely monitoring future (sheriff’s) cost increases,” City Manager Jason Simpson said in an emailed statement.
While Jurupa Valley agrees with the study’s findings, the city has a separate contract with Citygate to explore formation of its own police department in the next three to five years, City Manager Rod Butler said via email. That study is expected to be completed by fall, he said.
“We continue to be very pleased with the overall level of services that we are receiving from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, and our City Council may very well decide to maintain the current contract arrangement,” Rod Butler added.