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Sierra College police services get a break

Contract extension with city $40,000 less, despite increased activities
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald correspondent
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Sierra College Rocklin police contract
Cost per day:
$1,860
2013 fee reduction: $40,000
Source: City of Rocklin

The city of Rocklin finalized a new contract extension with Sierra College to provide police services at a reduced rate.

“We couldn’t be happier with Rocklin PD right now,” said Sierra College Spokesperson Sue Michaels. “The break they gave us has nothing to do with the amount of officers or time on campus — it has to do with administrative (costs) in the contract.”

For $1,860 per day, Sierra College funds two police officer positions, half of a sergeant position and 15 percent administrative overhead. The contract, in its fourth year, also allows for two patrol cars with depreciation costs (amortized over five years), as well as 36 percent for ancillary operational service delivery costs for items such as use of police evidence storage, records management system and staff, additional criminal investigations, 9-1-1 dispatch and crime prevention.

“They get more bang for their buck,” said City Manager Rick Horst.

Before 2009, the school had two officers and a chief, but laid them off when the recession hit. Rocklin took over on a contract basis in October 2009. This year, Horst said the city decided to cut the contract fees by $40,000 after the college’s request to reduce costs.

“The hard costs have remained fixed, and nothing is changing but the administrative costs,” Horst said. “We realized (we had) less costs that we were passing on to them, so it’s out of fairness.”

While the officers’ calls for service at Sierra College are way down, from 226 in 2011 to 49 last year, officer-initiated activity is slightly up, from 638 in 2011 to 747 last year.

“Our actual officers are out there from 7:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. at night Monday through Thursday,” said Rocklin Police Chief Ron Lawrence. “Friday through Sunday, our patrol officer assigned to that beat (area) handles any call they would have at the college.”

Michaels said the college is safer because even with the increased activity, officers are engaged in fewer traffic collision investigations and arrests over the last year.

“That’s no accident. Having their presence on campus has made a difference,” Michaels said.

In 2011, officers as-signed to the college made 19 arrests; in 2012 that number was 16. They also participated in the investigation of 28 traffic collisions in 2011, down to 22 in 2012. While revenue from parking citations goes directly to the school’s general fund, Rocklin PD officers is-sued 817 parking-related citations in 2011 and 1,958 tickets last year. They got assistance from the college’s own criminal justice students, who are learning from the officers on campus.

“We’re doing partnerships right now with the police service aide program,” Lawrence said. “When we recruit reserve police officers, for example, we recruit from the Sierra College classes.”

Last year, Sierra College interns, also known as police service aides, completed more than 2,000 hours of work at the police department. The eight interns also issued 1,740 parking citations, according to city documents.

“Working with the college staff has been outstanding,” Lawrence said. “They work in partnership with us collaborating and keeping the campus safe. When you’ve got between 14,000 and 18,000 people coming in and out of town to one campus, it is important for the police department to have a positive working relationship, not just with staff, but with students, as well.”

Horst and Lawrence hope the positive partnership with the college will create an opportunity for the city to develop a new fire station on campus that will facilitate a regional public safety training program.

“The (Rocklin) Fire chief and I are working on some ideas that could bring a regional training center to town,” Lawrence said. “We’re hoping that the college will partner with us on that.”