Sheriff's deputies will cover shifts for Willows police
Glenn County Sheriff's deputies will be patrolling Willows streets to help cover shifts for the city's Police Department.
The Board of Supervisors approved the agreement Tuesday with little comment except that they supported the plan.
Sheriff Larry Jones said the request came from Willows City Manager John Holsinger due to Willows being down a number of officers.
Interim Chief Jason Dahl said he appreciated whatever assistance the sheriff could provide.
A new county account for $12,000 also was approved to pay deputies' salaries beginning Saturday.
Money from monthly billings to Willows will be added to that account, Jones said.
The agreement calls for Willows to compensate the Sheriff's Department at its normal overtime rate. Willows also will be billed 25 cents per mile for county patrol vehicles used on city patrols.
Deputies will be covering 13 shifts in February.
Dahl said his department has five officers. but is staffed for 11, including a detective, two sergeants and the chief.
However, it currently does not have a detective, he said, and his sergeant's post is vacant while he works as acting chief.
One officer left for Butte County almost a year ago, the K-9 officer left in December and another officer is out on medical leave, Dahl added.
The officer is expected back in April, he said, and two others may be hired in the near future. But the new officers also will have to complete their training periods before going on patrol alone.
A third officer may also be hired depending on what Willows' mid-year financial review reveals, Dahl said.
"We covered January with overtime," Dahl said, "but we don't want (officers) to burn out."
He added without the sheriff's help, the city cannot maintain 24/7 patrols and coverage with this small a staff.
Since most deputies are not skilled traffic accident investigators, an on-call Willows police officer will be called to investigate a serious injury or fatal traffic accident within the city limits if a deputy is on duty, officials said.
Deputies also will remain under the supervision of their normal Sheriff's department supervisors following their chain of command, the agreement said.
In the event of a coroner's death investigation, the deputy providing service to Willows on that shift would not perform the investigation. Instead, another deputy would be called in to handle the matter which is standard procedure, Jones said.
The deputy assigned to Willows would then continue his or her shift and go about their normal patrol duties for the city so it will not have a reduction in contracted services.
This agreement can be canceled by either party with 10 days written notice or immediately upon oral notice to the sheriff that funding for the agreement is not available or is significantly decreased.
The Sheriff could also cancel the agreement if he finds his department cannot provide the services under the contract.
Jones said under state code, he is obligated to help local municipalities out and agreements like this have been done previously.
"Our goal is to make the citizens of Willows and the county safe," he added.
At the same time, Jones said his department does not have a lot of staff either so some flexibility may be required for county emergencies.
No timetable was set for how long the agreement might last since it depends on how long it takes for Willows Police Department to get more of its own officers. It could go through the summer or fall back later in the spring, Jones said.