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Police expansion gets mixed reviews in Sandy

Sandy Police Chief Kim Yamashita says Sandy residents will not notice the fact its officers are serving 80 hours each week enforcing laws in the city of Estacada.

While that service is occurring, she said, the residents of Sandy will be just as safe as they would be if Sandy weren’t covering two cities.

And Yamashita has a plan to back up her statements.

Initially, she will assign one Sandy officer to Estacada for four 10-hour shifts. That vacancy in Sandy will be filled as soon as a new hire is trained and certified. The other 40 hours per week in Estacada will be covered by officers or sergeants from what she calls a “relief shift,” which includes extra officers on duty and available for patrol.

While sergeants are on duty, the chief will take over some of their administrative duties as well as help when another patrol officer is needed.

Most of this shifting of personnel, she said, is only for the period it takes to get a new hire trained and certified to work alone as a patrol officer in Sandy.

That time period will vary depending on where the new hire comes from: An officer coming from another department in Oregon might need only a month to be ready, while a certified officer from another state could take up to four months and an entry-level officer would need about a year of training and education to be ready to solo.

As soon as the new hire is operating alone, Yamashita said, one of the sergeants would go back to the relief shift as well as supervision of officers and other administrative work.

This is where Councilor Carl Exner inserts his concern that Sandy might lose some of its police resources in this switch.

“I continue to have concerns about anything that would reduce the money or the time officers spend in Sandy,” he said. “If there is a moderate likelihood of that happening, I would probably vote against it.

“If it means a reduction in the officers’ time on the street or in the office to a significant effect, it’s probably going to be a no (vote) on this one.”

Councilor Brian Adams also isn’t buying the chief’s description. He says his main concern is that Sandy is giving two officers to Estacada, but hiring only one replacement. He also believes the chief and sergeants will not be able to fulfill their normal administrative duties if they have to fill in as patrol officers.

“With the chief and sergeants working down (in rank),” Adams said, “there could be some kind of negative impact on their roles. They’re taking on responsibility for two cities, and they’re also having to backfill for resources that are being lost in Sandy.”

Yamashita described the city’s budget and especially the police department’s budgets for the next biennium as “thin.”

But taking over Estacada law enforcement will help the Sandy police department get through the “thin” times, she said, because Estacada would pay a portion of the salary and benefits of the officers, sergeants, police chief, records manager, front office, evidence technician and a detective.

Those people would have to absorb the extra work associated with Estacada within the confines of their normal shifts.

But by going with Sandy, the city of Estacada is saving more than $43,000 from the price the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office would have charged the city.

The council and staff are generally in agreement with the proposal, and the city attorneys have made slight changes and have passed on the agreement that would bring more than $388,000 into city coffers.

City Manager Scott Lazenby told the council recently that he had two budgets prepared for their approval: one if they decide they want to include Estacada law enforcement and one without.

Yamashita said local residents likely would notice the difference if the city does not choose to serve Estacada because she says she would have a reduced budget.

“We cut down a lot of things from the last budget cycle to this budget cycle that would hinder our services,” she said, “and at one point we were looking at furlough days to avoid any layoffs.

“So Sandy residents might have been looking at impacts to (police) services, had we not done this (contracted with Estacada).”

Exner agrees the budget is thin, but he is not willing to sacrifice the quality of public safety.

“Our budget position (without Estacada),” he said, “would require significant changes to be sure we keep our officers in Sandy.”

Adams agrees and said he’d be in favor of looking for what he called “creative solutions” to the crisis and finding ways to keep police resources in Sandy.

Councilors must look at the attorney-approved and staff-recommended pact one more time before they vote.

If approved, the hiring process would not begin until positions shift and revenue begins flowing from Estacada to Sandy, Yamashita said.



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  • 20 Sep 2014

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  • 21 Sep 2014

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