Wednesday Nov 16 2011
Does Rocklin need more police officers?
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
Two officers, K-9 added to shrinking police force, but chief says more staffing needs to increase
Rocklin’s new K-9 unit hits the street at a time when the police budget and officer pool continues to shrink in a down economy. “He prevents us from getting hurt and helps us search a lot quicker,” Rocklin Officer Zach Lewis said of his new German Shepherd partner, Immo. After six weeks of search and apprehension training Immo is ready to face criminals in Rocklin. In his first week on the job Immo sat on a perimeter search for a rape suspect and assisted in the apprehension of a parolee-at-large. “He thinks it’s fun chasing someone,” Lewis said. “He’s not trying to be mean. It’s just part of what he’s trained to do.” Donations and community fundraisers helped secure the funding for Immo after the department’s other “bite” dog, Zeus, retired in July. Funds have also been donated to purchase a bulletproof vest for Immo He’ll join two new police officers slated to join the force over the next two weeks. Since 2009, the department’s operating budget had been slashed from $2 million a year to $674,000 in 2011. As a result, the department had been forced to implement a hiring freeze. Earlier this year, however, Rocklin City Council voted 4-1 to allow the hiring of two officers. Council member Peter Hill cast the dissenting vote. “Two years ago we were actually at one officer per 1,000 residents,” Rocklin Police Chief Ron Lawrence advised the City Council Tuesday. Right now it’s 0.88 per 1,000 residents compared to Roseville’s one officer per 1,000, a recognized national standard. “That is a bare minimum of where I believe we need to be to stay safe,” Lawrence said. Rocklin’s crime rate has remained low at 19.8 major crimes per 1,000 residents compared to Roseville at 35.9, Folsom at 26.1 and Citrus Heights at 57.5 major crimes per 1,000 residents. Lawrence noted that most of the criminals arrested in Rocklin are from outside the city. “The criminal element in Rocklin is not my only concern,” Lawrence said. “What’s happening in Sacramento County or around us is a bigger concern for me,” The police chief wants the council to allow the hiring of officers and up to two more K-9 units as Rocklin’s population increases over the next 20 years. Council member Brett Storey expressed skepticism during Tuesday’s workshop. “Public Safety is number one in my mind,” he said. “It always will be, but our personnel costs are rising. If we do nothing else, we’re automatically $6 million in the hole in the future.” Storey issued a challenge to Lawrence to find more efficient practices. “We’d love to have one officer per 1,000 residents, but I just don’t know that we’ll be able to ever afford that again in our lifetime,” Storey said. Some suggestions include consolidation of area dispatch centers into one south Placer County operation, city code enforcement expansion, restructuring animal control services and expanding the number of police volunteers. For more information on how to support Rocklin or regional K-9 units, visit the Foothills K-9 Association website at www.foothillsk9.org. _______ Regional Major Crime Rates Ratio per 1,000 residents Rocklin — 19.8 Roseville — 35.9 Folsom — 26.1 Citrus Heights — 57.5 Source: Rocklin Police Does Rocklin need more police officers? Two officers, K-9 added to shrinking Rocklin police force