Staffing State of Emergency for Calif. Police Department Extended

Feb. 15, 2024
Although the Vallejo Police Department is facing critical staffing levels, the situation is improving as the agency goes to 12-hour shifts and works through the phases of the emergency proclamation.

The Vallejo City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to continue the Vallejo Police Department's Proclamation of Emergency over critical staffing levels.

Jason Ta, Interim Chief of Police for the City of Vallejo, said the state of the Proclamation of Emergency due to the critical staffing levels at the police department is improving as they continue to work through the four phases outlined in the proclamation and work toward modifying all patrol shifts to 12-hour shifts.

The department has also been working with Solano County Sheriff Thomas A. Ferrara to develop a staffing plan that will allow that Sheriff's Office to provide 40 hours of assistance on the busiest hours on the busiest days depending on weekend call volumes, according to Ta.

"His resources would be about 11 deputies, two sergeants and one lieutenant," said Ta. "So this would be citywide that he would help us to do this, responding to priority ones and high-level priority two calls in addition to our assets that we have working swing shift. When they are not responding to high priority calls, they'll be conducting proactive patrols, so, for example, we could really deter sex trafficking activity up and down the Highway 29 corridor, we can deal rapidly with speeders, reckless drivers, sideshows. Having the ability to have those 11 deputies is significant. We would be able to deter burglaries, residential and commercial break-ins by having that additional high-viability patrolling."

As of Feb. 1, Ta said the Vallejo Police Department now had 73 sworn in staff and 33 working patrol officers. Human Resources Director Stephanie Sifuentes confirmed during Tuesday night's council meeting that a total of nine new employees have been hired since late January. Six are currently going through the academy and are expected to start working this summer. The other three were just hired on Monday and are expected to start the academy soon.

Sifuentes also spoke about a proposed resolution asking the council to increase the salary for the incoming city manager position to $303,000 to remain competitive as they begin recruitment efforts.

"As we begin the search for our next city manager, it is imperative that we have a competitive salary," said Sifuentes. "The city manager's salary has not been studied in several years and the last time it was increased was in 2022 by less than 5 percent."

According to Sifuentes, a study was conducted by the recruitment firm who is currently managing the city manager recruitment efforts utilizing surrounding jurisdictions of similar size and demographics and found that the recommended market median is an annual salary of $302,574, but the resolution recommended to increase the salary to $303,000 to remain competitive.

Sifuentes said any fiscal impacts this year will be absorbed into the city's general fund but the fiscal impact anticipated in fiscal year 2024-25 is expected to be $24,574 and will be budgeted accordingly for that year and years to come.

As part of their annual review, Rekha Nayar, Finance Director for the City of Vallejo, also made the first of two presentations to the council that outlined the city's plans to adjust budgeted revenues, expenditures, and transfers based upon actual experience during the first six months of the fiscal year and updated projections for anticipated revenues and expenditures during the second half of the year as part of the city's mid-year budget review process.

According to Nayar, general tax revenues are expected to increase by $158,000 from the prior projection because property tax revenue have decreased by $1,4 million over the previous projection which, includes $799,000 decrease in vehicle license fee, and city officials also anticipate an increase of $262,000 in sales tax based on their consultant's sales trends in auto and transportation, inflation and interest rate trends, labor costs, fluctuating prices of taxable products and consumer spending.

There has also been fluctuation with several taxes including a $675,000 decrease in the Transient Occupancy Tax to lower occupancy and default payments on several hotels, a franchise tax increase of $642,000 based on current trends resulting in revenue growth from garbage ( Recology) and PG&E rate tariff increase, an increase of $462,000 for the Utility User's Tax based on current trends resulting in gas and electric rate increase in 2024.

"Departmental program revenues are expected to increase by $834,000 due to increase in permit fees and COPS grant extension by a year," read a staff release issued by Nayar.

The mid-year budget proposed allocations included $1.36 million General Fund service and supplies expenditure requests, including several departmental expenses:

* $74,072 for a new Homelessness JPA being formed.

* $200,000 for the increased cost of the County Animal Shelter.

* An additional $80,000 for annual firefighter physicals for the fire department.

* An increase of $61,000 for pre-employment background services which are necessary for the hiring of Police Department staff.

"Recognizing challenges, we strive to balance essential and non-essential spending priorities within a $1.5 million fund limit to continue maintaining a balanced budget," read the staff report. "As we enter 2024, we maintain a cautious optimism, prepared to adapt and guide our community towards sustainable growth and resilience. Notably, our general fund balance remains around 19 percent, and staff work diligently to ensure the city's good financial health."

The council voted unanimously on this item and the amendments will be represented to the council for approval Feb. 27.

The council also unanimously approved the appointment of several vacant board positions during Tuesday's meeting.

Four people were appointed to the Commission on Culture and Arts: Daniel Weiss Margarett Miller, Jennifer Pierdant, Sherryl Weston, with a term set to expire Dec. 31, 2027.

Kanat Tibet was appointed to the Measure P Oversight Committee to represent District 1 while Loretta Gaddies was appointed to the Measure P Oversight Committee to represent District 2. Both of their terms are set to expire in October.

Phillip Thomas was appointed to the Surveillance Advisory Board to represent District 3 through Jan. 2. Daniel Glaze was appointed to the Solano County Mosquito Abatement District Board for a four year term while Teresa Booth will serve on the Solano Transportation Authority Pedestrian Advisory Committee through Dec. 21, 2026, and Fred Cavalli was appointed to the Code Enforcement Appeals Board for a term through Dec. 31, 2027.

Prior to voting on the items listed on the meeting's action calendar, Mayor Robert McConnell issued two proclamations recognizing the strength and struggles of different ethnic groups of past and present, starting with recognizing February as Black History Month.

"African Americans have had to preserve through unimaginable persecution and subjugation to include being totally stripped of their culture, customs, heritage, native tongue and point of national origin," said McConnell. "The testament to their greatness is that African Americans made a way out of absolutely no way to not only create their own culture but flourish and excel in every aspect of this world."

While previous council meetings have seen protests from both sides of the Middle East conflict, the chambers remained quiet while McConnell read a proclamation stating, "We call upon ourselves, our other local leaders and our community members to promote empathy and compassion within our community, to seek mutual understanding of our similarities and our differences, and to strive to avoid contributing to the harm that the Middle East conflict presents both abroad and here in Vallejo."

In December, there had been fierce discussions about the possibility of a city resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza that involved the council retreating into recess, security guards intervening in a shouting match and a police officer clearing council chambers of protesters before a vote on presenting the resolution could be held after 11 p.m. that night in the empty room. That vote passed 6-1.

The proclamation calls to "reject all forms of hate, including but not limited to, inflammatory, threatening and violent language of any kind, racism, religious discrimination, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-Arabism, and xenophobia, and together with our entire community seek to prevent the Middle East conflict from dividing us, but rather seek to uplift each other and therefore our community in troubling times."

The proclamation also "seek(s) to bring diverse communities together, support our neighbors, demonstrate civility at all times and protect the rights of all our citizens to enjoy religious and cultural freedoms guaranteed by the Constitutions of the United States and the State of California."

___

(c)2024 The Reporter, Vacaville, Calif.

Visit The Reporter, Vacaville, Calif. at https://www.thereporter.com/

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Sponsored Recommendations

Build Your Real-Time Crime Center

March 19, 2024
A checklist for success

Whitepaper: A New Paradigm in Digital Investigations

July 28, 2023
Modernize your agency’s approach to get ahead of the digital evidence challenge

A New Paradigm in Digital Investigations

June 6, 2023
Modernize your agency’s approach to get ahead of the digital evidence challenge.

Listen to Real-Time Emergency 911 Calls in the Field

Feb. 8, 2023
Discover advanced technology that allows officers in the field to listen to emergency calls from their vehicles in real time and immediately identify the precise location of the...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Officer, create an account today!