from the Desk of David Kelley, City Manager
Law Enforcement Services
Recently there have been some discussions posted on the Community of Cloverdale Facebook page involving interest in contracting law enforcement services with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. Much of these discussions
involve inaccurate and misleading information about how the sheriff’s office can provide more police presence and that the services would essentially be provided at no cost to the city. These inaccurate and misleading statements have generated some interest among community members. However, these statements are simply not true nor are they supported by facts. The cost to contract law enforcement services is an expensive endeavor as evidenced by the two contract cities within Sonoma County.
The City of Sonoma has contracted with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office since 2004. The department nearly mirrors the size of Cloverdale and is staffed by 16 employees, which consists of a Police Chief, 2 Sergeants, 10 Deputy Sheriffs, 2 Community Service Officers, and 1 Administrative Clerk. Dispatch services, investigations, records management, and property/evidence are handled by experts at the Sheriff’s Main Office and are included in the contract. The cost for law enforcement services in the fiscal year 2021-2022 is projected at $4,988,226.00 with additional expenses estimated at approximately $771,044.
The Town of Windsor has contracted with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office since 2008. Although larger, the Town of Windsor is staffed by 24 employees, which consists of a Police Chief, 3 Sergeants, 17 Deputy Sheriffs, and 3 Office Staff. Services include patrol, investigation, traffic enforcement, K-9, school resource officer, juvenile diversion counseling, and management of the animal control services. The indirect cost associated with dispatch, records management, and administrative services is also reflected in their budget. The cost for law enforcement services in the fiscal year 2021-2022 is projected at $8,728,160.
The City of Cloverdale is staffed by 21 employees, which consists of a Police Chief, a Police Lieutenant, 2 Sergeants, 9 Patrol Officers, 6 Dispatchers, 1 Records Manager, and 1 Community Services Officer. Services include patrol, investigation, traffic enforcement, parking enforcement, and management of the animal control services. The cost for law enforcement services in the fiscal year 2021-2022 is projected at $4,753,301. The Cloverdale Police Department also provides numerous ancillary duties not mentioned above and our response time, on average for emergency calls, is approximately 6 minutes.
Based on the information provided, there is clear evidence to support the fact that contracting law enforcement services with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office would potentially cost more than what it costs for the city to
provide its services.
Additional factors to be considered when contracting with the County:
The first thing that would happen is the Chief of Police and the Lieutenant would not be included in a proposed contract. At best, the Lieutenant may remain, and that position would most likely be reduced to a Sergeant. The current Police Dispatching functions would more than likely be absorbed by the County and, the Records Division would more than likely be transferred to the main records section of the Sheriff’s Office in Santa Rosa.
In a contract situation, while the City may be able to influence which sheriff’s office manager is assigned to the contract, the City Manager does not have the final decision regarding selection or performance reviews.
The community must also keep in mind that once a contract is signed the City would have very little control over the enforcement level and response time for assistance. This is due, in large part, to the responsibilities of the sheriff’s office for all unincorporated area residents.
City Updating Code Enforcement Program
City transitioning from complaint driven to proactive enforcement program
The City Council recently approved a budget amendment of $50,000 and a professional services agreement for a proactive code enforcement program. Robert Smith, a code enforcement specialist, was hired by the City Council
to enhance the City’s current complaint driven Code Enforcement program. Mr. Smith has extensive experience as the former City Attorney for the City of Sonoma and is currently providing code enforcement services for the City of Cotati and the Town of Windsor. As an attorney, Mr. Smith is skilled at understanding the City’s code, and will be leading development of an Ordinance updating the City Municipal Code to provide the City will additional tools to assist in the code enforcement process.
Robert Smith will be responsible for investigating and responding to complaints, monitoring compliance, levying fines and penalties as necessary. Mr. Smith will directly report to the Assistant City Manger / Community Development
Director Kevin Thompson. He will coordinate with other City departments including the Police Department and City Attorney on an as needed basis.
Code enforcement is intended to address nuisances which can include buildings that are abandoned, boarded up, partially destroyed, substantially deteriorated, overgrown/dead vegetation/landscaping, dangerous conditions and unmaintained property, as well as zoning violations and housing/building violations. Typical nuisance abatement cases may involve the accumulation of junk or garbage, unmaintained vegetation, inoperable vehicles, and
building code violations. The City’s initial focus will be centered on existing cases throughout the city. The updated program will monitor enforcement of current city codes and address code violations proactively as they arise. The Current enforcement regulations are is found in Chapter 8.02 of the Cloverdale Municipal code.
For more information about code enforcement, please check out the City of Cloverdale’s web site at: www.cloverdale.net/462/Code-Enforcement.
City of Cloverdale
124 North Cloverdale Blvd.
Cloverdale, CA 95425
Lobby Hours M-Th 9am – 12 & 1 – 5pm