Council asks for study of police department - Tucson Local Media: Pima Pinal

Council asks for study of police department

Some say plan could be precursor to layoffs, but council points to department's size as reason

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Posted: Wednesday, November 25, 2009 12:00 am

A proposal to conduct a management study of the Oro Valley Police Department has some in law enforcement and on the town council concerned.

"I find it interesting," said Kevin Mattocks, a police officer and president of the Oro Valley Fraternal Order of Police. Mattocks questioned the timing of the proposal in light of recent conflicts between the council and police department, particularly the rancorous budget battles from earlier this year.

The proposal for a management study was brought forward at the Nov. 18 Oro Valley Town Council meeting at the request of council members Bill Garner and Salette Latas.

"When you're looking at a department that is 50 percent of the town budget, that's where you should start for a management study," Garner said.

The police department has a $12.3 million budget in the current fiscal year. Its spending makes up the largest single share of the town's $27.4 million general fund. The Parks and Recreation Department takes up the next largest share, expected to spend about $2 million.

The town has conducted similar studies of the building safety, legal and library departments. Those studies ranged in cost from $30,000 to $50,000.

If the study were conducted in the current budget year, the cost would be paid from the town's reserve funds.

Council policy has been to conduct management studies of all town departments to assess strengths and weaknesses. Mattocks believes such studies also could be used as precursors to changes in staffing levels.

"I think if you just changed the wording of that proposal, it's just a way to justify staff reductions in the police department," Mattocks said.

Councilman Al Kunisch, one of the council's strongest supporters of the police department, also questioned the proposal.

"I would like to know why this came up?" Kunisch said. "What's broken, why do we have to do this?"

The councilman said the size of the police department's budget shouldn't alone predicate a study.

"It has always been 50 percent (of the budget)," said Kunisch, who also raised concerns about the possible costs of the study.

Garner said an analysis done by an outside group was needed to determine departmental needs.

"We're not going to know where we're at until we do some focused study," Garner said.

Council voted 5-1, with Councilman K.C. Carter opposed, to begin a process of finding companies that could do the study. The council also decided to include in the search a firm to conduct a management study of the Parks and Recreation Department.

Town staffers were asked to return with a list of qualified companies to do the studies at the Jan. 6 council meeting.

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