Friday, February 02, 2007

Police Consolidation Meeting summary

The Town Councils of Fairfax and San Anselmo met on January 31st at Drake High and heard a report from the State of California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) on a study of consolidating the police agencies of the two towns. Here is a summary of the report’s findings and recommendations.

Summary of POST Study Findings:

1. Consolidation or contracting between the departments is feasible, and may be desirable. Cost savings are possible, depending upon the form of consolidation.

2. No “significant event” (e.g. loss of a chief executive, internal turmoil, or political agenda) has taken place that would often stimulate immediate discussion of potential contracts or consolidation. Recent flooding has resulted in financial troubles for both towns and may have prompted discussions, particularly from a cost standpoint.

3. Information and presentation of what consolidation is, its various forms, how it works or can work, and how services can be provided to the community without the loss of local control and input is vital to the success of a possible consolidation. Without an outreach effort, the concept has little chance of approval or success in any form.

Summary of POST Recommendations:

1. Hold an independently facilitated “consolidation” workshop/seminar/retreat(s) for key decision makers, with the following goals:

Inform participants of preliminary information on consolidation to allow them to decide if there is sufficient reason to continue dialogue and to continue to study and evaluate the consolidation option.

Identify the issues that need to be resolved to make informed decisions about consolidation.

Identify the necessary steps that must be taken to successfully accomplish planning and implementation of consolidation.

2. Determine if there is sufficient support for additional study of consolidation; if so, what form of consolidation or contract. If, after sufficient public discussion, it is determined by the agencies to be feasible, pursue a more detailed cost/benefit analysis and other studies of the “approved” forms of consolidation/contracts.

Both Councils agreed that the idea of further exploring consolidation opportunities had merit and each Council will be discussing the issue of police consolidation in its own Town Council meeting format. The Fairfax Town Council will be discussing the police consolidation issue at its next Strategic Planning workshop on Saturday, February 17th from 9 a.m. to Noon.