In the world that we live in today where some are demanding that police departments be dismantled, defunded and reformed and budget cuts for departments like NYPD and the LAPD occurring, the uncertainty of the future is real. On the other side of the coin, there are loyal supporters of the men and women in blue and belief that the need for law enforcement is greater than ever with all the lawlessness and chaos being seen throughout the country. Many people understand that law enforcement is essential to maintain a thriving and safe society.
“It must be difficult to deal with such large budget cuts, no police chief wants to reduce or lay off staff,” stated Riverbank Police Services Chief Ed Ridenour. “Today more than ever, law enforcement agencies need more funding for additional and ongoing training. We want our officers and deputies to be highly trained and have the proper tools and resources to do their job effectively. The Sheriff’s Office understands the need for initial, ongoing, and progressive training. We pride ourselves on the quality of the deputy sheriffs in our organization and the high standards we hold them to.”
The City of Action has no current plans to close Riverbank Police Services (RPS) and, to the contrary, have approved a resolution to continue the Law Enforcement Services Agreement with Stanislaus County for another four-year contract from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2024. There was a workshop hosted regarding the specifics of the contract that just expired on June 30 and unanimous approval given for the new contract by council vote at the June 23 regular meeting.
“I am incredibly pleased with the city’s unanimous support of renewing the contract with the Sheriff’s Office,” expressed Ridenour. “We have a great partnership with the City of Riverbank and a deep commitment to its residents. I look forward to continuing to work with the City and build upon our excellent relationship with our community members.”
The City of Riverbank has contracted with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department for police services since 1995. Before the city contracted with the Sheriff they had a police department. Sheriff’s deputies now provide general law enforcement services including traffic enforcement, investigations, and records management for city residents. RPS through the Sheriff’s Department also has access to specialty units such as the SWAT Team, Hostage Negotiations Team, Dive Team, Bomb Team, Aero-Squadron, K-9 Unit, Special Vehicle Operations Unit, and the Mounted Unit.
“The California Peace Officer Standards in Training sets basic requirements for California Peace Officers,” said Ridenour. “More often than not, we exceed the hours and frequency of their recommended training. It is important that training be continually updated to adapt to current law revisions and as the world we live in changes. The Sheriff’s Office has an entire division dedicated to training our personnel and they do a great job keeping us up to date.”
City Manager Sean Scully explained that the new contract only has a few changes and the city would continue to cover the costs of personnel and equipment. He added that earlier this year city managers in each of the cities that contract with Stanislaus County for law enforcement services had discussions about an updated contract. The cities of Hughson, Waterford and Patterson also contract with Stanislaus County. According to the report by Scully it stated that contracting with the Sheriff’s department has resulted in direct and indirect savings to the city and its taxpayers.
“One of the things I didn’t mention last time was a nice additional benefit is that we do not get charged for the traditional overhead that you would have in a normal police department,” added Scully. “Those are things like insurance, HR, background investigations, IA, etc. We are able to make use of those things that the county already does and reap those benefits.”
Some of the issues that Scully explained at the Zoom meeting on June 23 were the timeline of additional deputies which has taken up to a year in the past but may be accelerated this year due to the Sheriff’s department being fully staffed. He also stated that they need to discuss staffing shortages as the deputy to resident ratio could be better. Through the public benefit fund they were able to add a deputy this fiscal year and plan to add a community resource deputy in the future as well as new technology. Ridenour explained that the camera system the city currently uses has assisted RPS in catching suspects in burglaries, robberies, hit and run collisions, and locate a missing elderly person.
“I believe we all truly appreciate our association with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department,” stated Mayor Richard O’Brien during the Zoom meeting. “A world class organization with world class training.”
The Mayor also stated that he was comfortable with the work that RPS is doing as well as their average response time of three minutes and 30 seconds.
“The average is great and I commend your staff, Chief, and you for maintaining those services,” he said.
In the near future O’Brien would like to discuss the cost of 911 dispatch services as he felt that the cost was high and questioning if the incoming calls are mostly for fire or police. The call center assists in coordinating efforts between agencies within the county.
Ridenour explained that they plan to add a community resource deputy that would focus on investigations and projects that increase the quality of life for Riverbank residents. As an example he added that if someone was experiencing continual illegal dumping, the deputy would catch the person responsible and find ways to prevent that from happening in the future.
The chief has reiterated that he plans to meet with the community through various public outreach programs and ensures them that RPS is committed to keeping them safe, as community engagement and involvement are a top priority.
“I want to thank Riverbank’s community for their support, and I want them to know that Riverbank Police Services is dedicated to keeping them safe,” expressed Ridenour. “Our deputies are members of this same community; their families and friends live here. Please know we all want the best for our community, and we are devoted to ensuring our residents enjoy a safe community to raise their families in.”