The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department is looking to establish a presence on the West Side, and it hopes to bring a slew of law enforcement services along with it.
The move would be part of the sheriff’s decentralization plan, which aims to set up four area commands throughout the county. Undersheriff Bill Heyne talked about the department’s plans at the Sept. 18 Patterson City Council meeting.
The community and the department both would benefit, Heyne said, because it would mean less travel for law enforcement staff when a problem happens locally and more West Side supervisors. The setup would also cost less, because Patterson Police Services would share space and equipment with the command center.
The department expects the area commands would serve the county for at least 30 years.
“I’m not going to be here in 2020, but we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t prepare for it,” Heyne told the council.
Patterson’s City Council also seemed receptive to the idea.
“Hopefully, we have implementation sooner than soon,” Mayor Becky Campo said.
Spurring the move to decentralize is Stanislaus County’s growing population, which jumped from 446,997 in 2000 to 512,138 in 2006, according to the U.S. Census. That’s almost a 15 percent increase in six years.
The department responds to about 200,000 calls annually.
Along with the county’s unincorporated areas, the department is contracted to serve four cities, including Patterson. The hope is that the west-area command can share resources with Patterson Police Services.
“The biggest thing we’re looking at right now is facilities,” Heyne said.
The department and city officials have considered the library building, the old City Hall and space in the Keystone Pacific Business Park as possible places for a new police station. It can’t set up a west-area command in the Patterson police station because that building is already at capacity, Heyne said.
“They’re cramped as it is right now,” he said. “It greatly inhibits us from sending additional personnel out there.”
The sheriff’s department expects to house about 10 deputies on the day shift and five at night at the command center. Patterson’s local police force would operate much as it does now, Heyne said.
At least one sergeant will be on duty 24 hours a day, which Heyne said is a legal necessity.
“Negligent supervision will get you sued and get you sued big-time,” he told the council.
Patterson now has a sergeant on duty daily, but only for one shift. When the Patterson sergeant clocks out, supervisor duties fall on an out-of-town sergeant stationed at the sheriff’s main office on Hackett Road near Modesto.
Under the decentralization plan, the supervising sergeant will always be in Patterson.
The old City Hall on South Del Puerto Avenue is the leading candidate for a new police station, Heyne said, though he expects that would only be temporary.
He estimated the department ultimately would need a 10,000-square-foot building. The old City Hall is about 4,500 square feet, Heyne said. The department could use that building for about five years, he predicted, before it would need to find another space.
Heyne first thought about decentralizing the department about six years ago. At that time, the plan was received warmly, he said, but the department didn’t have enough deputies to make it happen.
About a year ago, Heyne took the plan to his superiors again. Now, they feel the time is right.
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