After a midnight soul search early Tuesday morning, the Rancho Cordova City Council begrudgingly agreed to continue contracting police services from the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department through at least 2017.
Actual terms still need to be worked out, but the city lost some negotiating leverage when the city of Citrus Heights bowed out of contention earler this year. After flirting with throwing their hat in the ring, Citrus Heights officials cut off exploratory negotiations in the spring, said Citrus Heights police spokesman Sgt. Mike Wells, adding that “the timing wasn’t right and it wasn’t a good fit at that time.”
As Monday night’s meeting bled into Tuesday morning, Rancho Cordova city manager Brian S. Nakamura told council members he wasn’t sure why the other jurisdiction pulled out, but that its tentative proposal “showed some economic benefit to the city in terms of the number of staffing [it] would receive.”
A staff report suggested that the lack of a shared border might have played some role in the unnamed jurisdiction discontinuing talks.
According to vice mayor David Sander, concerns about the current sheriff’s department arrangement had to do with the approximately $250,000 cost per officer for salary and benefits; the size and quality of the officer pool being assigned to Rancho Cordova; and the level of community engagement.
“I don’t think we do a very good job of that,” he said of the latter.
Most of the 69-odd officers in Rancho Cordova are assigned from one of the two jails the sheriff’s department operates, said police Chief Michael Goold, himself a sheriff’s employee. Roughly 100 sheriff’s employees are set to retire by June, he added, which would likely bring in younger officers at a cost savings. He noted that these officers have undergone extensive pre-screening.
“You want the best of the best,” Goold said. “Because when you take second from other departments … they’re not going to have that experience when you pull up on a 12-year-old kid with a gun in a park, and you’re first reaction is to shoot him.”
Goold was referring to the November shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland, Ohio, police officer who had been previously dismissed from a different police department.
Councilman Donald Terry, who moved staff’s recommendation to renew the sheriff’s contract, first invoked the incident while describing his concerns about fast-tracking the creation of an internal police department.
“One of the dangers that you run into is that you get the people that can’t hack it somewhere else. And that’s a big fear of mine,” he said. “Those are the people we may end up as our officers.”