Christopher Rosacker

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June 26, 2013
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Grass Valley to patrol Nevada City at night, share detective

A unanimous Nevada City Council agreed Wednesday to embark on a six-month trial that could see Grass Valley police officers routinely patrol its streets as soon as Monday.

“I hope this will show that the two police entities can work together and serve both towns better,” said Nevada City Police Department’s interim Chief Jim Wickham.

Billed as a cooperative shared-resources arrangement, the joint proposal from both town’s police chiefs will have Grass Valley Police officers patrol Nevada City’s streets between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays, when an average of less than one call for service has occurred per night, according to NCPD.

During those hours, one Grass Valley officer will be specifically assigned to Nevada City, while two fellow officers’ beats in their own town will enlarge to include their relocated colleague’s normal beat around the Glenbrook Basin, Wickham explained.

This will enable Nevada City to instead dedicate a position to serve as a shared detective between the two agencies. Grass Valley Police Chief John Foster noted Wednesday that the early morning shift will also provide Nevada City with a supervisor during those hours that it currently lacks. Nevada City also has no current detective of its own.

Not only will this sergeant determine when it is necessary for the Nevada City-assigned officer to leave that town to back up Grass Valley, but that supervisor will also roam between the two towns during the overlap period, Foster explained.

An articulated outline of how the Grass Valley Police officer will patrol Nevada City was a requested change to the initial proposal from that town’s city council at its June 12 meeting, when the shared resources agreement was first vetted.

Grass Valley’s city council unanimously supported the proposal in principle just one night prior and will not need to OK the Nevada City amendments, said its City Manger Dan Holler.

Wednesday’s revised proposal contained “a more descriptive detail of how services will be shared in terms of patrol by the city of Grass Valley officer, as well as reporting requirements,” said Nevada City Manager David Brennan.

“Those seemed to be the two areas of council concern,” he said.

The amended proposal also requires Grass Valley’s officer to report the number of calls responded to after each Nevada City shift, the calls’ types and dispositions, as well as the number of self-initiated incidents and their types and dispositions.

The update also requires that reports be funneled into Wickham’s monthly progress reports to the Nevada City Council, another added requirement for the pilot project’s six-month duration.

Grass Valley Mayor Dan Miller, who previously voiced frustrations over Nevada City Council’s initial handling of the proposal, struck a conciliatory tone Wednesday night when he said his comments were “not intended to embarrass, offend or insult” the Nevada City Council.

“Cooperation is not something Grass Valley and Nevada City had for a long, long time,” Miller said. “There are people who struggle with the fact that we’re really trying to cooperate, trying to do something good… we aren’t Grass Valley without Nevada City and you aren’t Nevada City without Grass Valley… it’s encouraging to see agencies, such as the police departments and fire departments, working together, trying to make a better overall atmosphere of protection for the citizens of both towns.”

Still, members of Nevada City’s council defended their scrutiny of the proposal.

“I think asking questions and asking clarification does not mean we are trying to derail the efforts of two departments at all,” said Councilwoman Jennifer Ray.

“Our request for clarification is absolutely fine-tuning the agreement and is totally consistent with spirit of cooperation, which we feel benefits our community.”

Councilwoman Terri Andersen, who voiced the most skepticism of the cooperative idea initially and was the lone dissenter on June 12, noted her satisfaction with the final result.

“This is a real game changer for me,” Andersen said.

“It answers my two main objections to the previous agreement.”

In his report on the updated proposal, Brennan noted that the collaboration’s potential increase in service levels would not only require no added strain to the NCPD budget, but that it could even reduce the cost per service call. Grass Valley also stands to save money, as it has from all county law enforcement agencies consolidating their dispatch centers, Foster has said.

NCPD Officer Chad Ellis has been tapped for the shared investigator position, under the supervision of GVPD’s Sgt. Steve Johnson, Wickham told The Union after the meeting.

While Ellis will work under GVPD, his first detective priorities will be Nevada City incidents that require further investigation, such as burglaries, sexual assaults and other nonstandard incidents handled by regular patrol officers.

“I think he will serve the investigative unit in Grass Valley and Nevada City well in that capacity,” Wickham said.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email or call 530-477-4236.

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The Union Updated Jun 27, 2013 01:02AM Published Jul 1, 2013 02:22AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.