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Guest Opinion: It’s time to increase funding for Citrus Heights police. Here’s how

By David Warren–
Forced to lay awake at 2 a.m. listening to explosions starting at sunset on July 4, I realized that another email or telephone call to the police department (CHPD) seeking service to enforce the ban for illegal fireworks would be futile. I had no reason to complain concerning the sworn or unsworn staff as the fault lies solely with the Citrus Heights City Council’s refusal to recognize that the community public safety environment is changing and requires increased public safety funding.

David Warren

A cursory examination of the most recently adopted municipal budget makes it clear that the vagaries of the economy control the funding the CHPD. Unfortunately, when police services are most likely to be needed, tax revenue, i.e., sales tax and building permit revenue, will fall. Too often I hear complaints about the burden of the local taxes we pay which provide for street repairs, maintain street lights, municipal services, and the police department.

The response time from a call to the police department to the officer arriving is directly correlated to the number of sworn personnel on duty at the time the call is placed. More well-trained and experienced officers equate to shorter response times.

Several weeks ago, I observed four police vehicles with their lights flashing stopped near the intersection of Auburn Boulevard and Greenback Lane. I was upset both by the realization that the police officers deemed it necessary to have that number of officers to deal with the situation and knowing that at that moment approximately a quarter of the CHPD’s available officers were occupied with the situation.

We should demand that more officers be hired — and equally important, retained — so that more officers are available to respond to calls for service.

While in a neighborhood gym, I overheard several individuals complaining about the perceived lawlessness that is portrayed in the media including petty crime. In the last week, Citrus Heights experienced incidents which required police that were reported in the print, internet and television media.

Simply put, a new approach to funding the police department which provides a guaranteed funding level year-to-year without concern over the municipal income from sales tax, building department fees and property tax payments — taxes which are insufficient to even maintain the city’s roads, let alone maintain the increased demands of public safety.

As residents we have a choice to act proactively as an alternative to ringing our hands pensively, complaining constantly, and watching as crime increases, whether it be consecutive nights of exploding fireworks, stabbing on streetcorners, or watching as individuals run out of stores without payment for items in their hands.

The age of uneducated police officers using oak nightsticks to beat alleged criminals is gone. We as a community need to maintain both the quality of officers we hire as well as the support staff and equipment the officers require.

Instead of appropriating money to chase “pie in the sky” projects which are unlikely to succeed such as the master plan for the Sunrise Mall over which the city has no method to compel the property owner conform, or an independent school district for which the community will never be willing to increase property taxes to endow, the city should push forward plans for a special district separately funded by property taxes to underwrite the police department.

The creation of the special assessment district would ensure a reliable year-to-year fiscal stream allowing the CHPD to budget for equipment and staff without concern for the political contentiousness of the City Council. In addition, the city should construct a city hall on the vacant lot adjacent to the current city hall in line with the city’s needs, rather than upon the plans of a developer who refused to consider input from the community concerning design.

Afterward, the police department should move into the current city hall. The move will allow the CHPD sufficient space for all of its operations, with a view to the city expanding its jurisdiction over adjacent areas which are now governed by Sacramento County.

Now is the time to prepare the plans for (1) expanding both the number of sworn and unsworn employees; (2) sufficient space for all of the employees; and (3) providing the most up-to-date technological support for the police department for a date in the not-too-distant future when interest rates fall so that construction can start immediately.

I believe that there are a sufficient number of people in our community who are willing to place public safety above a few dollars. A well-trained police force with sufficient necessary support staff technology will assure both our personal and property safety. I would rather pay taxes to the city than the costs associated with crime in our community. A special assessment district will assure that goal.

David Warren is a Citrus Heights resident and legislative advocate at the State Capitol with Taxpayers for Public Safety. He can be reached at

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