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Danville looks at reducing cost of police services

Original post made on Nov 19, 2009

A new report on police services is recommending that the Town of Danville may be better served financially by either forming its own police department or contracting out with a new provider.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 18, 2009, 5:26 PM

Comments (37)

Posted by Mike, a resident of Danville
on Nov 19, 2009 at 8:34 am

I have noticed increased traffic ticketing by the Danville police department, handing out tickets for marginal traffic offenses. It seems to be part of the new municipal revenue generation campaigns being conducted by police departments all across the nation to make up for lost tax revenues.

Posted by Alamo Ron, a resident of Alamo
on Nov 19, 2009 at 8:46 am

The proponents of Alamo Incorporation knew well before the election that having our own police department instead of contracting with the county sheriff would result in significant cost savings for the Town of Alamo. This was evident in the Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis, an exhaustive financial analysis of the viability of Alamo's incorporation.

The cost for police services is by far the largest part of any city's budget and should receive on-going attention and analysis. I'm surprised that Danville has not made a move for an independent force before now. All they had to do is:

1. Look south at the success of San Ramon's independence.

2. Look north at Alamo's financial analysis which is readily available.

Posted by LS, a resident of Danville
on Nov 19, 2009 at 9:41 am

I think the quality of the force is somewhat over-rated. I've had several opportunities to intereact with them and have found them slow to respond and sometimes exhibiting an indifferent attitude.

In response to post #1 above, I think they should be more active in ticketing those running red lights and stop signs rather than minor speeding. We have a four-way stop in our neighborhood where probably 30-40% of the people run the stop sign and nobody ever gets a ticket. In fact, we seldom see an officer in our neighborhood.

Maybe having our own force would be beneficial but it should require a lot of thought before taking on responsibilities that we can't easily remove. And without strong controls over the politics and retirement issues involved, it could become a financial disaster. Just look at the out-of-control expenses associated with various other city and county fire and police departments.

Posted by Alamo Ron, a resident of Alamo
on Nov 19, 2009 at 10:46 am

I agree that a lot of thought should be applied to such an important decision. The point with a local force, of course, is that you have much better control over expenses. If you're with the county sheriff, you have very little control over expenses.

Danville has done an outstanding job in their fiscal responsibilities. There's no reason to expect anything less with their administration of a local police force

Posted by LC, a resident of Alamo
on Nov 19, 2009 at 2:12 pm

The City of Danville should share the fiscal and tactical report with the appropriate contacts in Contra Costa County and give them an opportunity to respond. For instance, if Danville wants to keep a person in place leading the officers for more than 5 years then the contract should be amended as such. If the City believes cost savings can be had they should ask the county to provide those cost savings as indicated by the report. City leaders say there is nothing wrong with the service that is being provided. Let's keep the people in the jobs they do well and communicate with our contractors on a regular basis to ensure satisfaction and fiscal responsibility.

Posted by Julia, a resident of Alamo
on Nov 19, 2009 at 6:35 pm

The solution is simple..even for the weak minded self serving Danville Town Council.

Pink slip 1/2 of them.

Then look inside your own operations. It's easy to spend when the money flows...but when it doesn't, you need to have have guts...just look around.

Posted by Ron, a resident of Danville
on Nov 19, 2009 at 11:43 pm

Julia is 100% correct. We have way to many cops and way too much fancy equipment. We do not now or ever need all the expense. Somebody needs to make the hard call but it is easy to see that it must be done.

Posted by Longtime Resident, a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 20, 2009 at 10:47 am

Julia and Ron, that's a great idea - let us know how it works out. If your computers (and all the rest of your belongings) haven't been stolen. Clueless.

Posted by bz, a resident of Danville
on Nov 20, 2009 at 11:25 am

I can personally attest to Mike's comment that there seems to be increased ticketing for "marginal traffic offenses!" I just received a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt in downtown Danville. The problem is that I DID have a seat belt on, but that I had the shoulder strap UNDER my arm. As a person of small stature, I find the shoulder strap hovering around my face is distracting and uncomfortable. The young man who gave me the ticket was quite pleasant, but I can't help but wonder if Danville really needs to employ someone to do THIS kind of work???

Posted by Longtime Resident, a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 20, 2009 at 12:02 pm

bz, you were not wearing your seatbelt properly as it was designed to be worn and you are negating the belt's effectiveness. Unless you can find a doctor will to write you an excuse for your condition (i.e. small stature) and the seatbelt pivot on the B-pillar does not adjust downward, you were in violation. Have you seen the illuminated message boards on the freeways for Click it or Ticket? The concentration on enforcement continues through Nov. 30.

Posted by bz, a resident of Danville
on Nov 20, 2009 at 1:28 pm

You're right, Longtime resident. Actually, I even sent my family the notice of "click it or ticket," but I never thought I was violating any law. I still feel this is a bit "above and beyond!" It's all about the "letter of the law," I guess..

Posted by Mark, a resident of Danville
on Nov 20, 2009 at 3:12 pm

bz, although Longtime Resident is correct that by not wearing your seatbelt correctly you were in violation of the law, I am sorry that you were ticketed. Many times it's the officer's discretion whether or not a citation will be issued for a minor infraction, and given that you were wearing your seltbelt (albeit incorrectly), I think that had he given you a warning instead of a ticket the DPD would have generated some badly needed good will. There are many, including Your's Truly, who view our police department as doing little more than writing frivolous tickets for the most venial of offenses. Those of us who have that view (and I believe that view to be accurate) have little sympathy for the PDP when we read headlines about how the city is looking to reduce the cost of police services.

I agree with Julia and Ron, and perhaps what HR people euphemistically call RIF, or reduction in force, should be one of the first solutions to consider. As a long time resident of 41 years, I can say that crime in Danville is no more a problem than it was in 1968. This is inspite of the fact that we now have DPD.

Posted by bz, a resident of Danville
on Nov 20, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Thanks, Mark!
I couldn't agree more with your assessment!
I noted on my citation that it only stated "seat belt" and the code violation, while it failed to denote that I had the belt on but not positioned appropriately. When I followed up with the police dept. to request that a more accurate notation be made verifying that the seat belt was on, it was apparent that no one had time to address that. That left an even worse impression!

Posted by concerned_bob, a resident of Danville
on Nov 20, 2009 at 5:21 pm

too many cops with too many fancy gadgets. They've even got enough spare patrol cars to park at the banks as decoys. Usually two "officers" and cars at each traffic stop. Tell me why?
And to the clown that thinks just because we reduce the budget for the PD that all my belongings will be stolen, think again. I have every right through the US Constitution to protect myself and what I own, and believe me, I don't need the PD's help. (doubt they'd be there anyway!)

Posted by Citizen, a resident of Danville
on Nov 20, 2009 at 6:33 pm

Police services should be the very last thing we cut. Having an active and full police service is critical, and helps all the other services, like education, social services, etc. There is a lot of fat in our town budget to cut, before we would have to cut the police services. The police services keep crime down, keep property values up, and are crucial to our health and well being. Wait till people like Julia need the police, and she will be yelling and complaining about the lack of police services and manpower, and why did it take so long for them to respond.

Posted by Mark, a resident of Danville
on Nov 20, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Citizen, you are entitled to your point of view, regardless of what may be behind your point of view. That's what keeps America great.

Even though in a typical day DPD services as many calls as one (1) officer in Richmond, people here still complain that it takes the DPD too long to respond. Incidently, the officers in Richmond are not nearly as richly compensated as Danville's finest.

If, as you say,"police services keep crime down, keep property values up, and are crucial to our health and well being," and if those services were truly delivered as expected, then I might be a DPD booster as you seem to be. However, this is not the case.

In these lean times, DPD is an unnecessary drain on the city's budget, and so they compensate by writing tickets for relatively inconsequential infractions. For the cost to the taxpayer, there appears to be very little value added. If our city was run as a publicly held corporation, those employees (including cops) who draw a paycheck but do not add value to the level at which they are compensated would be let go. Thus is the circle of life...

Posted by Longtime Resident, a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 20, 2009 at 9:50 pm

Clown? Okay Clownish Bob of Alamo, I'll play. In case you haven't noticed, we're in the midst of a recession. Last time I checked, the unemployment rate is over 12% which is probably a very conservative estimate. You probably don't realize (or more likely stick your head in the sand) that there are a whole lot of have-nots in this world. And contrary to popular opinion, there is not a wall built around Alamo and Danville to keep the "undesirables" out. I deal with them everyday and let me assure you - they would rip you off in a heartbeat. As the economy gets worse, who do you think they're going to prey on? Their neighbors who also don't have anything worth stealing? Or the shopping mall that is your beloved Alamo and Danville.

The Times said there are 30 deputies in Danville including command staff. Now, with you vast knowledge, please enlighten us, how are they going to cut the police department in half and staff the city twenty-four hours a day? Remember, this isn't your comfy office job that closes up shop right at 5 o'clock and every holiday. Using a 4-10 plan, that's 6 officers to work patrol. That does not include command staff, investigators, traffic officers, SRO's, etc. Nor does it account for training, vacations, injuries, etc. And on some of those days with 4-10's, there will be one officer on the street. As for 2 officers on a traffic stop, that's called officer safety.

The article says there is less than 40% proactive policing on dayshift. With those one or two officers, where do you think that number will go? How many potential burglars/robbery suspects will be stopped? How many autos will be burglarized in the middle of the night? And how long are you willing to wait when you call 911 to report an emergency. As someone mentioned, suppose your one officer is tied up on a collision at Camino Tassajara/Crow Canyon Rd. Your wife who is home alone at her house somewhere on the other side of town calls 911 because she thinks she heard somebody prowling in your yard. Is it okay for her to wait 30-40 minutes for a response? Ever been to a community with little to no proactive policing like you're advocating? The service that you will receive will be a business card with a report number several hours after the fact and little else.

Your Utopian dream is fun in theory, but you'll be one of the people crying the hardest when your house is ransacked.

Posted by Mario, a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2009 at 11:09 pm

Hey, Longtime Resident, you sound like a cop. Are you a cop?

Posted by Citizen, a resident of Danville
on Nov 21, 2009 at 5:25 am

Mark: You are obviously just a short sighted invidiual, who is mad that you got a speeding ticket. Follow the law, you have nothing to worry about. I am glad that our town has a reputation for having sufficient polic staffing and services. That repuation is know to criminals outside Danville, who think twice before entering our town to commit crimes. You are entitled to your point of view, even if you are wrong. By the way, I am not a police officer, nor married to one. I am just a long time Danville citizen, with common sense. Thank you Danville PD for your efforts in catching Ryan Fuch's murderer, and for keeping your citizens safe, even for ignorant people like Mark.

Posted by Mark, a resident of Danville
on Nov 21, 2009 at 10:31 am

Well, Citizen, at least we agree that we can disagree. I think, however, that it's possible to disagree without disrespecting those who hold differing points of view.

It is also possible to disagree without making unfound assumptions about the person with whom you are disagreeing, i.e. your assumption that I must be an angry motorist who received a speeding ticket. I have not received a speeding ticket nor have I received a ticket for any other infraction. I am also a citizen with common sense, and I happen to believe, along with many others, that if we're paying for a police force we should at least be getting our money's worth. Many people feel that we are not (read again the above comments). If people believe that our police force is over-paid and under-worked, perhaps we should be shown otherwise. It will take more than handing out citations for minor infractions (see bz above), sitting in bank parking lots, and sending two cars for each of the many "suspicious stops" that are reported each week to accomplish this.

In closing, Citizen, we are fortunate that we have been given this forum to serve as our free market place of ideas. Let's please use it to exchange ideas, not insults.

Posted by Steven, a resident of Danville
on Nov 21, 2009 at 11:29 am

In my opinion, police are like an insurance policy. You may not enjoy paying the premiums and in the 99 times out of 100 that nothing happens you feel like you're not really getting your moneys worth, but on the 100th time, when the worst happens you sure are glad you have them. I believe Julia's suggestion of pinkslipping half of them is both short sighted and impractical. And from the same person who wants to locate marijuana dispensaries in town. Makes sense...make drugs more readily available and reduce the police presence simultaneously. If that's not a recipe for disaster, I don't know what is.

That said, I would recommend to the good people at the DPD that they may want to put some of their employees through some training in public relations. I saw a group of officers standing on the street during the 4th of July parade and wished them a good morning. Other than getting stared at, they didn't respond at all. Part of being part of a community police force means dealing with the community. I've yet to see a friendly or smiling police officer. The chief smiles a lot at public events, but what else would he do? I respect the work of police officers, but I think they may want to work on dealing with the public a little better.

To BZ. I think the ticket you got was indeed fairly frivolous and is something you should contact the town management or the upper management of the police force to complain about. That sort of infraction is pretty much a warning offense. I've never heard of an officer giving a ticket out for that.

Finally,there have been comments about reducing the police force. Nowhere did I read in either the weekly's article or the times article that they are talking about reducing police. They're talking about reducing costs, maybe by contracting with someone else of making their own police force.

Posted by Mark, a resident of Danville
on Nov 21, 2009 at 11:38 am

Steve, you make some excellent points. Sometimes when a job is being performed properly, nothing happens, as in favoring preventive action rather than corrective action.

Perhaps there are some metrics that show how we have benefitted from having DPD. A good place to start would be how violent crime and non-violent crime rates (per capita) have been affected since the inception of DPD. That would be interesting.

Posted by bz, a resident of Danville
on Nov 21, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Thanks, Steven! I do feel that when a "frivilous" citatation is issued, it causes one to second guess the motives of the officer who issued the citation. Then, when I spoke with the police dept to question the wording on the citation, I was "brushed off" as though I was interrupting more important things. The repeated reply was that I just needed to follow the instructions on the back of the citation. I can't imagine how I would feel being treated this way if I had a SERIOUS concern!!

Posted by Ron, a resident of Danville
on Nov 21, 2009 at 11:55 pm

We have twice as many cops and equipment as we need in Danville. They are wasting our tax dollars and our elected leaders are afraid to make the necessary changes. It is time for us to elect leaders who are willing to make the necessary hard decisions. We had an egging at our house once and 4 patrol cars came including a 4WD model. One patrol car would have been just fine.

Posted by Richard, a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2009 at 12:29 am

You called the police because your house was egged????

Posted by Phil, a resident of Alamo
on Nov 22, 2009 at 9:05 am

"Egging" could also be read as "vandalism." Does Richard mean that we shouldn't call the police when our home is vandalized? I agree with Ron, though. It sounds as though the DPD was responding to the "egging" incident as though it was a major disaster. But, what else would you expect from a department that hands out tickets for next to nothing?

Posted by Longtime Resident, a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 23, 2009 at 2:39 am

Mario, yes, for 18 years. And before you ask, no not in Danville or Contra Costa county.

Posted by Julia, a resident of Alamo
on Nov 23, 2009 at 9:17 am

NOW...we know the Longtime Resident is just another self serving soul that can't wait to retire with all the taxpayers hard earned money and don't give me that BS about risking your life...not in Danville buddy. Now if you patrolled the street of beautiful Oakland I may cut you some slack.

Pink Slip 1/2 of them...cut back on the DPD operating expenses. And Again...Mr. City Manager...look in the mirror...and start cutting there.

Thanks, Julia, from the non-town of Alamo.

PS...Hey Longtime Resident I'm assuming in Danville. If I get my home broken into you sure won't do anything about to help...But my buddy Mr. Colt and I sure will.

Posted by eagle, a resident of Danville
on Nov 23, 2009 at 9:31 am

Why are you always so negative about everything? Maybe a good cup of holiday flavored Starbucks might give you a better disposition towards life and your neighbors. Try it.

Posted by Phil, a resident of Alamo
on Nov 23, 2009 at 9:34 am

Longtime resident, since you worked as a police officer for eighteen years, you probably retired at a young age. Police, fire fighters, etc., in our area typically retire at 50 and receive about 90% of their peak salaries for life. Is that like the deal you got?

Posted by Longtime Resident, a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 23, 2009 at 10:51 am

Hey Julia, did you bother to read what I wrote? Or does your blind rage prevent you from comprehending what you read? You don't know a thing about me so don't make assumptions, it makes you look rather foolish. The thing is, when you get your Colt (if you really have one, that is) taken away and used against you, I'll come to help/save you (or your survivors) despite you hatred. But only because it's my job, not because you deserve it. You do have one thing correct - yes, I can't wait to retire because dealing with people like you gets old.

I am curious though, since you don't live in Danville, why are you so concerned and upset about their finances? You wouldn't happen to be one of Rupf's political minions bitter over his departure, would you?

Phil, no I have not retired yet but yes, that is the retirement formula for my dept. The one thing that nobody talks about because it doesn't make good press - it doesn't cost PERS as much as everybody thinks. The average retired officer only lives to 66 compared to 75 for the average population.

Posted by another citizen, a resident of Danville
on Nov 23, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Speaking of retirement… I was at the Danville Town Council meeting and listened to the presentation. One of the major issues with contracting with the sheriff was the county retirement costs. By creating our own police department, the city could join the PERS system and save considerable money over the retirement costs with the county option.

Posted by Mark, a resident of Danville
on Nov 23, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Thank you for the thoughtful post, Longtime resident. Another citzen, were estimates presented at the Town Council meeting on how much could be saved by joining PERS?

Posted by Mike, a resident of Danville
on Nov 23, 2009 at 3:56 pm

All for it. No more "sub leasing". They will work for us directly and hopefully be even more interested in making our community one to be sought after.

Posted by DT, a resident of Danville
on Nov 23, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Just look at the police log. Every couple of hours something minor occurs, and then we see 2 or more cars show up. DPD is way over staffed. Also silly tickets are way up... Revenue generation to justify the head count. Just sit in traffic court a day and listen to some of the ridiculous reasons.

Yes we need protection, but lets do a work/time study to see resource usage vs. effectiveness.

I respect our need for protection, and they do an adequate job. We need to make sure the supply of officers meets the need.

Posted by Livermore Mike, a resident of Danville
on Nov 25, 2009 at 5:16 am

Posted by Longtime Resident, a resident of the San Ramon neighborhood, on Nov 23, 2009 at 10:51 am
I just have to correct your comment about how yo say cops die at 66. THAT is a TOTAL Lie. CalPERS just did a study on that and all worker that get a pension from CalPers die at 82.5 years of age cop or no cop.

Posted by Longtime Resident, a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 26, 2009 at 3:24 am

Longtime Resident is a registered user.

Livermore Mike! Longtime, no hear. Haven't heard from you since you were blocked from the Times website. I always enjoyed your asinine comments and pretend facts. I still chuckle about your "fact" that all San Ramon Valley Fire employees retire as chiefs.

As for PERS, I guess you have an inside line since they've been taking heat for being unable to provide the longevity of our members. Actually, why don't you make it 182.5 years old - that'll probably make you even happier, won't it?

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