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Police Improvements Promised For City
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Police station lobby hours would be extended and other benefits accrue to Riverbank residents, according to draft plans to decentralize Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department resources.

Riverbank Police Services might keep its Third Street office open to the public as late as 11 p.m. or midnight and open earlier in the morning, Undersheriff William Heyne told the Riverbank City Council on Dec. 10.

In a plan currently expected to go into operation next July 1, the Sheriff's Department will split the county into four areas and station more personnel in three of the four cities where it has a law enforcement contract and suitable facilities.

Riverbank will accommodate officers serving the northern area command, Patterson take the western area, Waterford handle the eastern sector and Modesto remain the center for the southern area. Hughson is the other contract city.

At no increased cost to Riverbank, Heyne stressed, he plans to station another lieutenant (subordinate to Lieutenant Tim Beck who is Riverbank's Police Chief), two more sergeants and extra deputies at the Riverbank police station to handle law enforcement in the northern area.

They would direct their policing efforts to the countryside outside city limits. But the outcome would be "a more visible police presence" which would deter criminals as officers come and go around the clock.

"They would approach crime from a regional perspective," said Heyne. "That house, for example, which is just outside city limits but known to do meth and contain stolen property, would get their attention."

Deputies assigned to the northern area would gain a better knowledge of Riverbank and the surrounding area in operating out of this city rather than Modesto.

This system would also provide better supervision with more sergeants stationed in the city. Riverbank currently has only two sergeants operating in two shifts. When one is called into the field the station must operate without a supervisor until he returns.

The Sheriff's Department is concerned about this occasional lack of supervision and consequent legal liability for the department.

"This system will cost no more money than now," said Heyne. "But we will provide a better, more efficient service."

Riverbank pays the Sheriff's Department $3.1 million per year to police the city. This is a huge portion of the city's general fund that this year stands at $7.1 million.

The Department plans to include a "detention officer" who would organize crews of jail inmates to do work in the area such as clearing weeds in public areas.

The Department also anticipates providing a Community Service Officer who could take over duties like handling lost and found property and even vehicle break-ins, which would release sworn officers for higher priority work.