Menifee City Council heard the benefits of creating its own police department for the city during its Oct. 4 meeting. The law firm of Hicks, Maineri and Williams completed the study, at no cost to the city, according to City Manager Ron Bradley.
Tom Hicks, who served as the chief of police for the City of San Jacinto before the department was disbanded, and who now works with Hicks, Maineri and Williams, gave council a presentation covering everything from the cost to the city for establishing its own department to the effects it would have on staffing and the city’s budget.
The firm looked at two different areas while researching the issue: could the city establish a police department that would save the city money over its current arrangement with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and would that department increase police services to the city and its residents.
Hicks said the firm spent about seven months researching the issue and provide council with preliminary figures and other items for comparison to decide how to proceed.
According to Hicks, the current level of staffing from the sheriff’s department, includes 87 personnel who are assigned either full time or part time to the city. Of those 87 personnel, approximately 58 are sworn officers.
Current cost to the city for the contract with the Riverside County Sheriff’s department for services is $17,254,000. A proposal by Riverside County Sheriff Stan Smith has the cost for services increasing to $21.1 million in fiscal year 2018/ 2019 and to $25.1 million in fiscal year 2019/2020, Hicks said.
“We took a look at their costs over the last 11 years and we projected for 2020/2021 with just a simple 5 percent increase and you would be at $26.3 million and then for 2021/22 you would be at $27.7 million and for 2022/23 you would be at about $29 million,” he said.
If the city were to start its own police department with 74 sworn personnel working full time at 40 hours a week and 32 civilians for 106 total personnel, the cost to the city would be $13,821,103 in fiscal year 2018/2019, $15,211,422 in fiscal year 2019/2020.
Personnel would include a full-time chief of police, a full-time captain and two main divisions, administration and a uniform patrol division, with approximately 12 cars on duty at all times. There would also be a watch commander and a lieutenant who for each shift (2 day shifts and 2 night shifts) of the uniform patrol division.
Hicks also suggested a support division supporting patrol, there would be a traffic division with a sergeant, a corporal and an officer as a team, another corporal and an officer as a team. Hicks said there would be separate officer assigned to quail valley, a school resource officer and a crime prevention officer. He said there would be a detective bureau, led by a lieutenant with nine officers and the ability to send officers to regional task forces as needed.
A civilian support division and K-9 officers 24 hours a day would also be in place under the proposed plan.
Hicks said startup cost to the city would be $5,140,304 and includes the cost of vehicles, equipment and all capital outlay items necessary to fully outfit the department.
A side by side, five-year comparison shows the city would save just over $44.7 million in fees over the current contract with the Sheriff’s Department, Hicks said.
Other items built into the cost such as retirement funds for the officers, liability insurances, mutual aid between cities and using Sheriff Department services like swat team and helicopters were also discussed.
Mayor Pro Tem Matt Liesemeyer thanked Bradley for bringing in HMW and said that issue of creating a police department for the city is one that is nearest and dearest to him. He asked about additional hidden costs such as HR costs and financing staff.
“There is no question that there would be additional support staff costs, both in personnel and payroll,” Bradley said. “We add this many employees and that is twice as many as we have now.”
According to Bradley, the city “struggles” to take care of the current employees and new employees would need to be hired to bridge the gaps, but those costs would come out of the general fund budget.
Hicks told council that other costs they would want to look at would include the monthly bill from the county for services primarily included personnel and mileage for the vehicles.
“For example, I think you are paying 94 or 98 cents for every mile that is driven in your city to the county,” he said. “There are some other items in there that would not be on that monthly invoice.”
Hicks said that the city currently pays “over $400,000 a year to support the building in Perris,” where the city’s police department is currently located.
“Those are the kinds of things that you need to take a look at when you decide you want local control, when this body makes a final decision on the staffing levels for your city and what you want to provide your people without it being dictated to you from the county,” he said, adding that the city doesn’t have the option of going to the county board of supervisors and renegotiating the charges.
“They decide for you, they are the master,” he said. “That’s where you have to come back and make your decision, do you want local control, whatever that control may be, but your control.”
Councilman John Denver asked how it could be cheaper for the city to start its own police department rather than continuing to contract with the Riverside Sheriff.
“You get a cost of all the people for about $58 an hour,” Hicks said. “Right now, you are paying $181 an hour and some change for a deputy, plus some other costs. So, there is your answer, it has nothing to do with the quality of the personnel, it’s the cost.”