Bruce Frohman is right on about jobbing out police services.
Whenever municipalities get into a financial pinch, they look for easy solutions—–and this is one of them. And if the service provided by the Sheriff’s Department leaves a little to be desired, a citizen has a devil of a time meeting with the sheriff in Modesto to voice an opinion.
Patterson contracted out its law enforcement in 1998 when our population was 12,000. The cost for the first five years was $1.2 million per year, and a minimum level of service was identified in the contract.
Now our population is about 20,000, and the upcoming contract will approach four times the annual cost when compared with those first five years.
But the level of service certainly has not gone up. Home burglaries, car thefts, and thefts from vehicles receive almost no attention from the deputies.
And to top it off, our local officers are county employees. They never get to know our “bad guys.” They can be and are dispatched to the rural area, sometimes cutting our 24-hour patrol in half.
Without much thought, some claim we ought to return to having our own police department. But being realistic, the cost of doing so would be prohibitive. We gave up all our vehicles, our dispatching service, training program, etc. back in 1998.
The only circumstance in which law enforcement under one control makes sense is in a heavily populated area such as Los Angeles. There you pass an imaginary line and are in the next city over. That isn’t the circumstance in Stanislaus County.
By way of comparison, Newman still maintains its own department – and is extremely satisfied with it.
And one other note: A bad police chief can be terminated under local control. In the past 40 years, Patterson has moved three of them down the road. However voters can get rid of an incompetent sheriff only once every four years and it is the sheriff who has control of the local chief under our present contract.