Sunday, May 08, 2005

Local Control

An article in today's Sacramento Bee Neighbors section for Citrus Heights (my city) talks about how a local advisory committee is recommending to the city council that they severe their contract with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department (from which the city contracts for law-enforcement services), and establish their own, locally controlled, independent police department.

Elk Grove, another city in Sacramento County that contracts services from the Sheriff, voted just last week to do the same.

The withdrawal of these two major contract cities will have a profound effect on the finances and the resources available to the Sheriff's Department, and will be a challenge to the cities starting their own departments.

I don't usually comment about things pertaining to my job (I work for the Sheriff's Department), but being a citizen of Citrus Heights I think it's safe to state my opinion, as a citizen.

I, for one, am glad to see the city council push for more independence. After all, what what the vote back in 1996 for city-hood about? Independence and local control.

The scuttlebutt around the water cooler at work is that the city council is making a big mistake. There's talk that no deputies will want to make the move to a new city police force, and that the cities will have a hard time finding police to work. Hogwash, I say. Sure, probably not a lot of currently employed Sacramento Deputies will want to make the jump to a new, small police agency, but they are not the only talented cops in the state. Hundreds of good cops that work at other agencies around the state will jump at the chance to work in a city like Citrus Heights, or Elk Grove. Filling the ranks will not be a problem.

As to the start up problems, and whether or not the fledgling police departments will succeed or fail - thousands of cities all across America have their own departments and figured it out just fine. All of them had to start somewhere, and I'm sure they all had some kinks to iron out as they began service, but by and large they've succeeded just fine. Citrus Heights and Elk Grove will be no different. They will stumble, that's a given, but they will find their balance and go on just fine. It's all about local control and local issues.

As an employee, the Sacramento Sheriff's Department is not a bad place to work, and I'm in no hurry to leave, but I'm intrigued by the possibilities of joining on the ground floor of a new department.

As a citizen, I'm excited at the prospect of my city taking more control of it's local destiny and carving out it's niche in this megapolis we call Sacramento County.

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