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DSA In the News

Millbrae considers changes to its police service

Published on 8/30/2011


San Bruno would like to have its full-time police chief back and is leaving Millbrae to evaluate if police services should be provided through a city department or by contracting with another agency.

San Bruno has requested to have Police Chief Neil Telford return as a full-time employee of the city rather than splitting his time with Millbrae in the same role. As a result, Millbrae must decide if it will maintain its own department or explore contracting with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office for services. On Tuesday, the council will hold a special meeting to discuss the options. Keeping its own department would cost an additional $400,000, which would need to be cut from other city departments. Alternatively, the city could look at contracting services with the Sheriff’s Office.

Mayor Dan Quigg wished the situation was different.

“But, we need to look at options,” he said, adding he was curious to hear the public’s input at tonight’s meeting.

In March 2010, the two cities entered into a contract to share Telford, a veteran with over 27 years of experience with the San Bruno Police Department. The one-year contract called for sharing the costs of his contract.

Neither San Bruno City Manager Connie Jackson or Mayor Jim Ruane could be reached for comment.

Millbrae City Manager Marcia Raines said the partnership has been great. But San Bruno needs Telford to return to a full-time employee position. The hope is for that transition to occur within 30 to 60 days, Raines said.

Last year, the cities jointly commissioned Municipal Resource Group, LLC to study further options for sharing police services. According to the analysis, a shared service model was not viable due to limited or non-existent fiscal savings, Telford wrote in a staff report.

Millbrae has a couple options to consider: Maintain its own department or contact with another agency.

One of the issues with keeping its own department is cost. Over the last 10 years, the department has gone from 38.5 full-time equivalent employees to 29.75, Telford wrote. The reduction includes six less police officers and two fewer police lieutenants.

“It is believed that the existing police department staffing configuration will, over an extended period of time, result in significant organizational, operational and fiscal problems for the city,” Telford wrote.

Telford expressed a number of concerns about the current department like increased overtime and 16-hour shifts as a result of the limited staff; limited ability to follow up on unsolved cases and address community crime trends; difficulty in scheduling training; challenges in retaining and attracting employees; and limited ability for community outreach.

Should the city want to maintain its own department, Telford suggested increasing staffing levels by 2.25 full-time equivalent employees — a cost of $410,000 annually. Meeting that will require cuts to other city departments.

Alternatively, the city could partner with or contract out to another agency. Informal conversations about sharing services with nearby agencies did not result in any possible partners, Telford wrote. Millbrae could research contracting with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office for services — a move a number of other cities have done to save cash.

The Sheriff’s Office provides police services to San Carlos, Half Moon Bay, Woodside, Portola Valley and unincorporated areas of San Mateo County.

The council meets 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30 at City Hall, 621 Magnolia Ave., Millbrae.