City hires consultant to study possibility of a private police force to replace current contracts

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The City Council agreed this week to follow through on a campaign promise made by newly elected City Councilwoman Dawn Haggerty to investigate the possibility of Canyon Lake having its own police force to replace current contracts with the Sheriff’s Perris Station and Securitas Community Patrol.

At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Council voted to authorize a contract with private investigator/law-enforcement consultant Tom Hicks, asking him to provide the following services for a flat fee of $5,000:

Review current and past contracts for police services;

Review current levels of police services;

Review current costs for police services;

Analyze future costs of police services;

Prepare reports for planning, organizing and staffing a potential City police department;

Prepare a report for coordinating activities of a potential City police department;

Prepare a budget for the start-up costs of a potential City police department;

Prepare a projected budget for four to five years for a potential City police department.

The contract, when signed, would take effect immediately and expire April 30.

Mr. Hicks’ resume shows him to be a retired police chief and former federal agent, with a B.A. degree in Public Sector Management, along with extensive Police Officer Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.) education and credentials. He is an active member of the California Association of Chiefs of Police, the FBI National Academy Associates and the Retired Peace Officers Research Association of California.

When she ran for City Council, Dawn Haggerty’s stated goal was to improve security and stabilize City finances. She pointed out that Canyon Lake pays $1.5 million per year for police protection for one deputy each for two shifts – no 24/7 coverage, no two officers at all times, which standard police safety requirements recommend.

She noted the POA pays Securitas $1.85 million per year and they can’t detain, stop a fight or burglary. The annual cost of security for City and POA is $3.3-plus million per year.

Dawn said she had met with Bear Valley police chiefs who implemented the changeover from County Sheriff to City Police, “reducing costs from $2 to $1.3 million – with increased coverage.”

“They’ve now got 24/7 protection – two officers and a supervisor on duty around the clock,” she noted. “The city has more control of priorities, closer ties between police and community, and their crime rate has dropped.”
Dawn adds, “This study and others I’ve reviewed all conclude: smaller cities who form their own police department find both fiscal and operational benefits, while providing more control over fiscal costs, standard of expectation, closer relationship between police and community, and reduced crime rates.”

After winning the November election by an overwhelming majority, Dawn asked fellow Council members to authorize further investigation into the possibility of Canyon Lake having its own police force.

This week’s contract with a law-enforcement consultant is an important step in the investigation.

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Sharon Rice