Hike rates

Council authorizes sheriff to raise service rates in contract towns

The Board of Supervisors today approved Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco’s request to increase the aggregate rate charged to 16 cities and other contracted entities for the use of patrol deputies and related support services. to operations.

In a 5-0 vote without comment, supervisors authorized the 4.09% increase, which is retroactive to July 1, 2021. According to sheriff officials, it is necessary to recover higher costs incurred by the department.

Under the revised fee schedule, the cost of a Sheriff’s Patrol Assistant will drop from $197.90 per hour to $206 per hour.

“Each year, the Sheriff’s Department uniquely analyzes its patrol operations and effectively determines true costs through its size,” according to an agency statement posted on the board’s agenda. “Fully supported contract enforcement rates include all of the system costs of running a (law enforcement) service.”

The agency acknowledged that the main pressures in the current budget cycle come from rising “pension obligations and salary increases” secured by the Riverside Sheriffs Association for the several thousand MPs it represents, and the costs of increased pensions and salary increases for management personnel. represented by the Law Enforcement Management Unit.

Last year’s increase was 4.74%. In 2015, a 7% rise caused an outcry from elected and unelected officials in Indian Wells, Lake Elsinore, Moreno Valley, Palm Desert and Temecula, who disputed the justification for an adjustment to the such a significant increase. They protested that law enforcement spending was draining their budgets and needed to be capped.

“We had our study session today with the city council outlining our police budget. And in our police budget, we factored in that rate increase, as well as a planned rate increase for the future,” Palm Desert Deputy City Manager Andrew Firestine said.

The objections led to a two-year assessment of the sheriff’s operations conducted by Netherlands-based professional services firm KPMG, at a cost of nearly $40 million. After the audit and the company’s recommendations, some sheriff’s management practices were changed and adjustments were made to the schedules and assignments of deputies at several stations to save money.

However, KPMG’s work was criticized by the Riverside County Grand Jury and other sources as excessively expensive with limited results.

The City of Menifee in 2020 terminated its contract with the county for law enforcement services and formed a stand-alone police department.

Cities benefit from helicopter patrols, robbery and homicide investigations, responses from SWAT units and deminers without having to pay the bills individually. Contracting entities are further spared the cost of lawsuits arising from the actions of sheriff’s staff, according to the agency.

In addition to the hiking patrol deputies’ rates, the council unanimously backed the sheriff’s demand that the 16 municipalities contracted by the county for law enforcement services be required to pay sums more or less high for the sheriff’s use of dedicated community service facilities.

Officials said the heaviest bills typically come from county facilities management department costs to maintain stations, including lights, waterworks, landscaping and custodial operations. The sheriff first bears the expenses, then passes them on to the contractors, each being billed in proportion to their consumption.

The largest percentage increase in facility costs will be borne by San Jacinto, which faces a bill of $43,759, up from $30,635 last year, a jump of about 43%.

Perris will bear the highest installation cost in dollars and cents: $557,019. This is a 3% increase over the previous year.

According to the sheriff’s documents, a few cities, including Coachella and La Quinta, will realize substantial savings in facility fees for the current fiscal year.

“We are paying our share. And that’s calculated based on the number of employees working in Palm Desert assigned to that station as a fraction of the overall facility. So that install rate is something that we anticipate and budget for every year,” Firestine said.

The rate hikes follow council’s approval last month of increased sheriff’s overtime rates, which are charged to cities, courts and other entities for the use of deputies. , investigators, crime scene technicians, helicopter pilots and other personnel when assigned to duties outside of their normal working hours, such as parades, festivals and events. other “special events”.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said contract policing has many benefits.

In my view, a significant benefit would be increased staffing levels. Having more visible MPs within our communities reduces serious crimes like theft, rape and aggravated assault. Contracting cities harness the full potential of RCSD and obtain an optimal level of policing at less cost than they would need to maintain their own police department. In addition, contracting cities rely on resources such as:

• Surveys
• Specialized units (SWAT, dangerous devices, K9, diving)
•Crime prevention
• Community support services

Public safety is an important investment that accounts for a significant portion of many local government budgets. Managing and overseeing an independent police service can be demanding, especially for smaller communities. Contractualizing law enforcement agencies with the RCSD offers many benefits as noted above.

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