Measure N funds to help Grass Valley Police replace officers
Within a six-month period, the Grass Valley Police Department has lost three officers to Roseville, a drop in workforce Lt. Alex Gammelgard says is drastic.
“People want our officers,” Gammelgard said. “Officers that want to leave the (GVPD) have a very high likelihood of being hired because we have high-caliber people, and we have not lowered our standards, and will not lower our standards.”
To combat the loss, Grass Valley is currently in the process of training and recruiting four new potential officers. Gammelgard says the department has been able to utilize Measure N funds to purchase state-of-the-art equipment he believes will help retain its current 24-officer roster.
“Measure N allows us the ability to look at technology trends and best practices and have the opportunity to be forward-thinking in our approach to technology and equipment in the quickly changing environment of police work,” said Gammelgard. “I believe that the recruitment and retention of officers is likely to be more successful than if we didn’t have this type of equipment and leading edge technology.”
Gammelgard says this time last year, the police department had the same number of officers as they do currently, though some of the force is still going through training as opposed to solo patrols.
In December, Grass Valley lost an officer to Roseville, followed by a second officer earlier this month. A third officer served his final day Friday, and was also recruited by the Roseville Police Department, which reportedly pays up to $30,000 more than Grass Valley.
Gammelgard says the department currently has an officer who will graduate from the academy in June and start training. Two additional officers start training later this month, with a fourth officer joining training in mid-April.
“Measure N is helping fund the start-up costs, and it will continue to fund five positions, which is what it was slated for,” said Gammelgard.
In 2012, to combat declines in police, public works and fire force, Grass Valley placed Measure N, a half-percent sales tax raise, on the election ballot.
The initiative proposed to fund more police officers, firefighters and two fire engines, and an estimated $7 million to fix 50 miles of city streets over 10 years.
Passed by 66 percent of voters in November 2012, the measure raised the city’s sales tax rate to 7.875 percent, a tax hike that will expire in 2022 if voters don’t approve an extension.
This fiscal year alone, the department has spent more than $710,000 in Measure N funds, which includes the purchase of two new police vehicles, wi-fi modules for patrol cars, and new Litton radio antennas.
The bulk of the expenditures, though, come from officer salaries and benefits, which currently make up close to $590,000.
GVPD has also spent around $10,000 on new Glock handguns, and plan to purchase new handheld radios by July 1.
Gammelgard said the department is also looking into purchasing body-worn cameras, with $30,000 in projected costs for that equipment.
“GVPD prides itself on having well-functioning, useful and the proper equipment to serve our community in the most efficient and effective manner,” said Gammelgard. “At this point we’ve tested different options for the cameras. We have a committee formed, looking at policy issues and deployment and purchasing of the cameras; they are physically evaluating the cameras… There is no timeline to buy them, but it is a foregone conclusion.”
To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4236.
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