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Council, advisory board mull merits of contracting for sheriff night patrols

The Sherwood City Council and the Sherwood Police Advisory Board met Oct. 4 in a work session to continue discussing the merits and feasibility of contracting with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department to provide service during the early hours of the morning.

At issue is whether the city would benefit from having deputies provide patrols to the city between 1 and 6 a.m. when a lower volume of calls are coming in.

In March, a consulting firm suggested the city could look at contracting with the sheriff’s department during those call periods as part of a Sherwood Police Department operations and staffing study. The study, conducted by Matrix Consulting Group, showed that in those early morning hours, police have a 91 percent proactive patrol time or time when officers aren’t responding directly to calls but may be out addressing other community problems.

Sherwood Police Chief Jeff Groth has said one advantage of contracting with the county would be the ability to reallocate some officers and a sergeant to other needed duties during daytime hours.

Assistant City Manager Tom Pessemier said the goal of the work session (this was the second involving the city council) was to determine whether the city wanted to invest more time and money to continue examining the proposal.

On hand to answer questions were two Washington County sheriff’s deputies, John Koch and Jon Shaver.

Asked about what effects contracting with the county would have on community policing, Koch, commander of the sheriff’s department’s patrol division, said they would likely assign specific deputies to the city and would continue with community policing.

Other questions involved whether contracting with Washington County would be cost effective. Although some figures have been floated, both members of the council and advisory board said they wanted to get more definitive answers of comparing “apples to apples” when it comes to actual costs of an officer verses a deputy.

“What is the cost, what is the real cost that our residents expect when subbing out to Washington County?” Chris West, a police advisory board member asked.

Pessemier said he would come back to the council with a firmer idea of the cost of an officer verses a deputy but felt they would be “very, very close.”

While the Washington County Sheriff’s Department has submitted three possible personnel scenarios, City Manager Joe Gall noted that it was obvious both the council and advisory board would prefer having two deputies on duty during the night instead of a single deputy.

Pessemier said city staff would come back with more information on the proposals in the future. Work sessions are informational only and the council can’t formally vote on an issue during that time.