Now one of the top priorities — a new police services contract with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department — is at the forefront with council members putting all options on the table within the next few years, including the possibility of partnering with Newman or another police agency within the county.
Management teams from the sheriff’s department and the city of Patterson met for the first time Feb. 25 to open talks on renewal of the police services contract.
The sheriff’s department has carried law enforcement services for Patterson since 1998, and its most recent five-year contract is about to expire June 30.
“We’d like to have a new contract ready for the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors and the City Council by early June,” said City Manager Rod Butler, on Monday, March 4. “We’re going to be looking at staffing levels.”
Butler would not tip his hand too much on what the city would seek from the sheriff’s department, saying only that city officials had several issues they wanted clarified in the contract’s language regarding staffing.
Councilwoman Sheree Lustgarten, however, said Tuesday, Feb. 26 that the council is looking into different alternatives, such as partnering with Newman on police services or contracting with another police agency in the county. She said she wanted to hear from constituents on the matter.
“I just want to get some input from residents,” she said, noting she was looking forward to a possible town hall event in the near future.
She said it was also important to be realistic about how much policing the city could afford.
The city has retained a firm to do a cost study on different cost options for policing by the sheriff’s department as well as cooperation with other agencies, Butler said.
He also said the city would be contracting for at least the next two to three years with the sheriff’s department because any change in agency affiliation would take that long to implement, if that even happened.
City Councilman Dominic Farinha in January said he would like to see some of the additional sales tax revenue from Patterson’s new Wal-Mart store and from Amazon.com’s future Patterson fulfillment center used for public safety needs.
He would not comment Monday, March 4 on the current negotiations, but confirmed that the city had begun looking at “different options.”
Sheriff Adam Christianson said Feb. 26 he looked forward to offering a package of staffing to Patterson no matter what the staffing needs called for. The sheriff’s contract now calls for 24 employees and sworn deputies including detectives, two sergeants and a lieutenant that acts as a police chief.
“It has been a great partnership,” Christianson said. “We’ve always offered a better level of service than they’ve paid for, and we enjoy utilizing those resources in the unincorporated areas.”
Christianson said he thought that a 6 percent pay and benefit cut to deputies, caused by the downturn in the economy, would not affect requests for more deputies or fulfilling any new needs Patterson may pose. The cuts, along with a stringent hiring process, have led to a shortage in deputies in the department.
“We’re hiring for the first time in three and half years,” Christianson acknowledged. “It’s going to take us awhile to recover.”
But, he didn’t believe the shortage of deputies would hurt the City of Patterson’s level of service.
“Whatever resources the city negotiates will be provided,” he said.
• Contact Nick Rappley at 892-6187, ext. 31 or email@example.com.