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Cop Talk A No Go
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Providing efficient and affordable police protection for Riverbank and Oakdale will not come easy.

The anticipated meeting on Aug. 29 for Riverbank and Oakdale city councils to meet in joint session and hear a Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department presentation on its services appears to have fallen through.

"We've had no official reply from Oakdale yet. But it doesn't look promising," said Riverbank Interim City Manager Pam Carder, commenting on the news that Oakdale Mayor Pat Paul had withdrawn an offer for Oakdale's council to sit down with Riverbank in a joint study session.

Carder said she has advised Riverbank Mayor Virginia Madueno to wait until an official report that the Riverbank council commissioned from a consultant before Carder became interim city manager is ready. That could happen by the end of this month and serve as a starting point to examine all the options. The report requested will examine the alternatives Riverbank has for police protection including staying with the Sheriff's Department.

Riverbank has a contract with the Sheriff's Department for deputies to provide its police protection and extra services such as a bomb disposal unit, diving team and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team when needed. But the city is concerned about steadily rising costs required to pay items like pensions and workers compensation.

Oakdale still has its own police force but recently has seen officers laid off for lack of funding and needs more money to rebuild its force.

Mayors Madueno and Paul have suggested expanding the Oakdale force to cover both cities but the idea has not yet moved beyond informal discussions.

The contract with the Sheriff's Department cost Riverbank $3,292,000 last year and stands at $3,380,000 for the current fiscal year that started July 1. That sums covers everything including police station maintenance and patrol unit fuel. The stripped down version for just police protection climbed from $2,926,000 in the last budget year to $3,120,000 for the current year.

Meanwhile the smaller cities of Waterford and Hughson that also contract with the Sheriff's Department to enforce law and order are proposing to split the cost of a Sheriff's lieutenant three ways between the Sheriff's Department and their two cities. The lieutenant already serves as Waterford's part-time police chief and Hughson also is proposing to share his services.