Is it possible to combine the budgets of the City of Canyon Lake and the Property Owners Association to create a City Police Department that would cover some of the roles currently filled by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and Securitas Community Patrol?
The law-enforcement consultant that the City Council hired at the March 4 meeting to review current and past contracts for Canyon Lake’s police services and to prepare reports for planning, organizing and staffing a potential City Police Department will be giving a public presentation of his findings on Wednesday, April 22, and Tuesday morning, May 5, in the City Council Chamber. All residents are invited to attend. There will be a time for questions and answers.
The April 22 meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.; the May 5 meeting will be held after the Public Safety Committee meeting, which starts at 9:30 a.m. and ends between 10 and 10:30.
Tom Hicks is 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. His consulting firm consists of three retired police chiefs and other law enforcement specialists.
Councilwoman Dawn Haggerty, who ran on a campaign promise to investigate the possibility of creating a City Police Department to save the City money, says two proposals will be shown and discussed:
- The first proposal is to convert from the Riverside Sheriff’s Department, who the City currently pays for one day and one night shift deputy, to creating a City Police Department without POA involvement.
Dawn says the projected costs demonstrate that, in the first year, the City would pay a little more than being with the Sheriff’s Department; but a five-year projection shows an increased savings each year for the City. Approving this proposal would mean the POA would continue with its security company at the new budgeted cost of $2.2 million for the coming year.
- The second proposal is for the City and POA to partner together for a police force that would operate inside and outside the gates. Based on a $700,000 contribution by the POA, and their continued budgeted costs for Marine Patrol and gate guards (that the POA would continue to manage) the probable savings to the POA would be about $480,000.
This would mean a reduction of fee on each lot of somewhere in the $80 to $100 range.
Are there other benefits to partnering with the City? Dawn thinks so, saying, “It would entail a full-time, 24/7 police force of at least three men on duty at any given time, a response time of five to eight minutes in most cases, and the ability to arrest on site.
She expects it would not be easy. “There are many issues to be addressed. One is that the City would have to adopt POA rules, Bylaws, etc. and make them City ordinances so they can be enforced by the City Police since the POA streets are private. This has been done before.”
Dawn notes there are some POA rules that could be enforced by City-uniformed Community Resource Officers (CRO), which would be part of the City police force but not Academy graduates. They would report to the City Police Chief.
“We have tried to include all costs for start-up, general liability insurance policy, PERS and other employee costs, vehicle maintenance and insurance, operating costs such as booking and lab fees, etc.,” says Dawn. “In the plan, we set aside a $75,000 contingency fund to cover unplanned expenses.”
She urges everyone to come to the meetings with their questions. “We need to determine which, or if either plan would be best for Canyon Lake. Let’s make sure this plan is vetted completely so we know if it can work. If it can, we all will benefit from it.”