AUGUST 18, 2015 Discussion Regarding Calls for Police Services outside the City Limits Summary.
Note from TheGardeningSnail: This is a summary. It is not a word for word transcription. It is an edited down version culled from the participants own words.
I have tried my best to capture the Main Points of what was said that evening: joining up the disjointed thoughts, unraveling the rambling sentence fragments, and doing my best to figure out just what the heck some council members were trying to say.
Which isn’t as easy as you might think.
Council Members often interrupted each other, talked over one other, or mumbled into the microphone in such a way as to make it difficult to understand.
If you want the whole thing, you can pick up a copy of the video from City Hall (for free), or watch it online (for free).
Matter of fact, I strongly encourage you to listen to the conversation and determine for yourself is this Edited Down Version “presents fairly” what was said that evening.
The numbers inside the parentheses are there to give you an idea of where to look on the Video to find where parts of the conversation are located.
Let me know if there are any major typos.
MAYOR ESPINOZA (1:30:36) I asked for this Agenda Item to be put on the Agenda. As you know, I was approached by a few, by a couple farmers that live (just close?) to the City Limits. And, they’ve called the police department. And dispatch says that they don’t respond to calls outside the city Limits.
So, I asked the Chief and he said basically its, within county, so county needs to respond.
And that’s why he don’t do it. But I know the past chiefs have done it all the time when, when they call us, we respond quick out there because I know that, the Sherriff’s department is probably sometimes busy and don’t respond as fast.
So, since they come and shop in town..they’re concern is when they get burglarized, robbed, whatever, that they should be able to call the Police Department here in Livingston to respond sooner than the county.
Council Member McCabe (1:32:37) Mr. Mayor, are you proposing that we expand our police force to reach to our sphere of influence? Or how far are you
ESPINOZA But at least within ½ mile because that’s when we all go to them for to ask for donations, …. They donate for every cause, our school districts. …if the county is not responding as fast then our Police Department should be able respond as well.
COUNCIL MEMBER McCABE (1:33:34) You think that’s necessary for all items or maybe just violent crime or something of that nature would be appropriate? Or you want open it up, open it up to any crime?
ESPINOZA (1:33:57) No, No, No, No, …, if anyone calls 911, it goes to the Sherriff, the CHP and then their routed to Merced County Right? But if they call directly to the Police Department than we can answer some of the calls…
ESPINOZA So that’s just opinion because … they donate money …
McCABE (1:34:18) I mean, if there’s a immediate life risk or a, a violent thing. I’m definitely in favor of our police forces assist in that rout. But it it’s a typical …, robbery or theft, I would think that would be a waste of our resources to be going outside our city limits.
McCABE: … our police force is already dealing with budget constraints as it is. It may become too much of a burden for our police force to expand their sphere
ESPINOZA: Well no, because I think that they’ve always been responding in the past…Eldridge, he used to respond gladly to any person that lived outside the city limits when asked.
McCABE: Right. I’d love to hear what the chief has to say about it.
CHIEF CHAVEZ (1:35:26) First of all, I want to say I think it’s great in theory … You know my number one goal is to keep the community of Livingston safe. And I know those people that live outside of our jurisdiction … They frequent here and if we could do something to help them out, that’d be great.
There are some hurdles, some limitations that I think need to be addressed and the main thing is jurisdictional boundaries. From a police practices and throughout my career, 33 years in law enforcement, jurisdiction is kind of an item that’s revered by law enforcement….
You take pride in being able to handle the calls for service in your city…By the same token, we want to make sure that the folks that handle things in their area: they’re gonna want to take care of it…
There were actually 10 specific instances where we were called by the county to assist…the Sherrifs were either on scene or in route…
There are also County Wide Protocols…where we work with other jurisdictions and we go through the county…the protocol itself or jurisdictional. Those are things that are kind of revered, again…
Some of the things…we want to look at is some of the liabilities that we assume any time we go outside the city….as the Department Head, I want to make sure I limit our exposure to liability going outside the city…
If said we can send our guys out there, then what are we telling the sherrifs? That you can’t handle your own calls? What are his challenges when he tries to get more deputies for his department when we’re handling calls in his area?…
Violent crimes is one thing…there’s understanding within agencies within our county, if something’s going on, we’re gonna go…the more routine calls for service, those are the ones that are gonna kinda deplete our resources.
One of the things that I thought about is if there’s something occurring outside the city and we want to work with the Sherriff’s Department..where people are getting their car stolen, or property crimes, things like that, I would propose lets work with the Sherriff’s Department…develop some sort of little task force and provide some overtime funding. We could work with them and work together.
ESPINOZA (1:40:42) …But, I’m just saying as Mayor and as council members, you guys are gonna hear it, your guys are politicians. When the farmers call your guys, or friends of the farmers call you guys, and say No, we’re not gonna have our police department respond to you because you’re outside the city limits.
This has been the case forever…I used to deal with it when I was towing…I used to go all the way to Delhi. All the way to Atwater and pick up cars when our officers were pulling over cars…they would just get on the off-ramp on onramp and follow cars all the way to Atwater…
We’re just trying to help out a few calls…if you guys don’t want to respond, that’s fine. I think that we’re gonna get the heat when some business people don’t want (to) start contributing to our community or to our schools because as a City, the council represents the city, that we don’t want to respond to their calls. They’re not gonna support the city.
McCABE (1:42:59) Listening to the Chief, it already sounds like we do a lot of joInt work with the County Sherriffs and that when they need our assistance, we’re providing it. Or when they’re asking for it, we’re providing it. Do you have a specific type of crime…
ESPINOZA It don’t have to be a specific type of crime…they call the Livingston Police department…they don’t want to answer…the crime doesn’t have to happen…but if you got somebody out there…what if nobody showed up and he breaks the window and goes in?
McCABE (1:44:45) But that right there is a threat..physical threat…that’s different than, let’s say, having them go out for a car that got broken into.
COUNCIL MEMBER SACAIROS (1:44:38) …I guess, chief, it’s the extent of the call? The crime? …you don’t want to step on the Sherriff’s toes either, it’s their jurisdiction…
ESPINOZA …you guys don’t understand it. You haven’t lived out in the county. They have no confidence in the county, or the Sherriff’s Department. Because you call them up: they’ll show up in the next day.
People call, even, in town in Delhi or Winton. They call the sheriffs department and they show up the next day. It’s like we don’t need you no more, we got robbed already. You guys don’t care.
SACAIROS (1:46:02)…If your life is in danger then, by all means, respond. But if there’s nothing really dangerous…
ESPINOZA (1:46:47) But I don’t think they’ll be a lot of calls….Most of the calls, they’re gonna handle it…
SACAIROS I’m sorry Mr. Mayor…if you decide to live in the county, you know where you need to respond.
CHIEF CHAVEZ …it would be nice to work with the Sherriff and try to get some of those folks who go into the county as well. But we will respond to anything where there is a public threat in the Sherriff’s jurisdiction with their knowledge and with their permission or the fact that they know.
It’s a courtesy thing. I’d be hesitant to send guys into the county without their knowledge.
COUNCIL MEMBER SORIA (1:47:45) I believe you guys have something with Mutual Aid…I think if we kinda limit it to circumstances, how far is the deputy out. Is it a hot burglary? Is it a…felony in progress? Then I could see that…
(1:50:13) Maybe getting together with the Sherriff…if a business owner said…I just got broken into and (we) don’t know if they’re still in there, I’m sure we would probably send someone until a deputy gets there, and that would be the Chief’s call.
ESPINOZA …because they’re always saying, well, the Police Department is always coming and asking me for money for Kops for Kids or whatever reason…so don’t come ask me for any more money…that’s what we’re gonna get.
SORIA Me personally. I don’t mind going out and helping our neighbors…we do want to be neighborly but we don’t want to step on
ESPINOZA No. No. but that’s when you can work with the Sherriff…and that’s what I wanna do – direct the Chief to work out some type of MOU with the Sherriff where we’re able to respond to some of the calls.
SORIA (1:51:47) I don’t see an issue if it’s like a burglary in progress or robbery or where life is threatened..the deputies are over in Santa Nella or somewhere then
ESPINOZA …if you guys don’t want to support this then I just tell the farmers “Hey. Go talk to the rest of the council”…
SORIA I’m for it if we can work out some kind of agreement where it doesn’t
MAYOR PRO-SAMRA Most likely, when the SO takes the 911 call…they’re either, if they have nobody nearby, they’re either gonna hand it off to CHP or to Livingston anyway?
ESPINOZA (1:52:47) …this is something that already happened. They’re not gonna respond right away.
SAMRA …But, see, it’s not only taking a report. It’s doing an investigation. Now, how much time? We also have to support our people too…
We can’t teach those people to dial directly to the Police Department. They need to dial 911.
COUNCIL MEMBER SACAIROS (1:53:14) That was my next question…
SAMRA If they learn to dial straight to us, Sherriff’s Office and Highway Patrol is not aware of that call. Only we are…
ESPINOZA I just said within ½ mile, Obviously, if it’s too far then we’re not gonna respond.
SAMRA But, how do you tell that home next to you, to them “no – we’re not gonna respond to you – only to that person there.”?
I don’t have a problem is its some sort of MOU can be drawn up with the Sherriff’s Office, and they’re fully aware of it, then it’s a different story.
ESPINOZA That’s the purpose: to make an (inaudible)
SAMRA Without an MOU, people are going to get used to…calling us… and then, now, we’re leaving the city unattended as well for non-violent stuff.
If someone is breaking in and they see them, lights on the car or they call 911 and Sherriff’s Office, they’re gonna hand it over to us anyway, I think.
ESPINOZA (1:54:42) We’ll open it up to the public.
ME In a crisis, a 911 call should be made anyway and the Sherriff’s department passing it over, so it does not become the Livingston PD routinely answering calls, routine calls, in the county…
Are you directing, wanting to direct the Police Department to work with the Sherriff’s Department and write out something…that the City Attorney can go over?…
ESPINOZA (1:59:58) Correct. Probably some calls and where if the Sherriff’s Department is responding and if they get there while we’re there, then they will take over right away….
So if they already called the Sherriff’s department, they’ll probably call the Livingston Police Department as well…
It’s just that the Sherriff’s Department has a bad reputation of not responding to all calls right away: they’ll show up three hours later, four hours later, or tomorrow. That’s what we here all the time.
ME (2:01:16) I’ve heard of similar complaints about Police Department in cities, depending on the kind of call…
As much as I would like to help out our neighbors in the county, we would have to do so in a way that would not put our officers at risk for litigation, more litigation, and spreading ourselves too thin.
ESPINOZA (2:04:04) …It just depends on what the council wants to follow
I didn’t think it was as big an issue as we’re discussing…when Eldridge was here…they used to respond…I didn’t think it was gonna be a big issue: that we don’t want to respond. It’s up to the council.
McCABE …I just heard the Chief say numerous times that when there is a human life situation or when there is a public safety situation, then they work jointly with the Sherriff’s Office…so it seems like our status quo, we’re already working for public safety.
ESPINOZA …I know that – Mutual Aid we respond. I know about Mutual Aid as well, But when persons outside..they call 911, they gonna call over there (PD?) too, so the dispatcher make a decision whether it’s a life threatening situation or not.
They’re coming to the door, that’s a different story – he will respond right away…but if they’re not breaking in…
McCABE (2:05:41) So are you specifically looking for then is when there is suspicious activity, that our patrols would go out and make an appearance…?
ESPINOZA …not suspicious. No that’s-everybody’s gonna be calling on that.
McCABE I’m confused. I’m not understanding what the objective here is. If we’re already doing Mutual Aid, what more can we do?
ESPINOZA It’s different than Mutual Aid. It’s different, like it its somebody that’s going around your house…that’s where they would be responding. There’s one or two guys out here, running around my house. Nobody’s supposed to be around here….
That’s a different situation, that’s where I don’t think the Sherriff’s Department would be responding…that’s what I understand.
I used to live out in the country as well before.
McCABE (2:06:38) Same here…so what we are saying is…not necessarily as suspicious person, but we’re interested in if we have trespassing incidents in the county around us, to see if out patrols would go out for trespassing instances?
ESPINOZA …if they think that they might be in danger…
McCABE Chief, how is that different from Mutual Aid? If a 911 call comes in and someone says they feel that their life is threatened because there are people at their house…
CHIEF CHAVEZ They would have the primary jurisdiction and if they had a deputy that was extended then they would ask us to assist and we would respond if there was a situation like that.
ESPINOZA I would think that Mutual Aid would come in more when it’s eminent threat, actual breaking in into somebody’s home and they’re calling 911 for help…
SAMRA Mr. Mayor
SAMRA If a person calls the Sherriff’s Office of 911 …wouldn’t the dispatchers make a call at that point, if it’s an immediate threat to life and health. And then hand it over?
ESPINOZA …they’re gonna make a determination whether they’re gonna stick with the Sherriff’s Department or they feel like they’ve been threatened.
SAMRA (2:08:34) But see, I think the danger is if you tell them to call Livingston, and then our dispatcher makes…not necessarily bad judgment, but say…instead of rolling Code 3, they just send somebody our, the next call, then aren’t we liable now?
ESPINOZA No, I don’t think so because it’s not our jurisdiction.
SAMRA But, we’re asking to take their calls. So we’re now putting ourselves into the position…
ESPINOZA So maybe working without a MOU
SAMRA If we had an MOU
ESPINOZA I’ll ask that question to the City Attorney
SAMRA If we had an MOU and there’s a different understanding. But now, not without that.
SORIA I think on exigent circumstances, I don’t have an issue responding. You can tell by a person’s tone and how they’re calling…Maybe the Supervisor on duty could decide. But if there’s not an eminent circumstance
ESPINOZA Well – I’m gonna leave it up to you guys. I’m not gonna make a motion.
SAMRA (2:10:16) Also, I don’t think our Insurance would cover liability outside our city limits. So if a dispatcher calls, our liability would cover it. But outside that, they’re not gonna cover us.
SORIA Let’s get an opinion from Counsel.
SACAIROS Chief. One question…if you live in county, and dial 911, where does the call go to.
CHIEF CHAVEZ It goes to the county
SACAIROS…So basically, if they call 911, it’s gonna go to county anyway.
CHIEF CHAVEZ (2:10:41) The way the technology works, and that’s very, very specific to the address. It’ll go to that agency.
If you want to somehow incorporate ½ mile, then all that will have to be reworked…
I worry about the times we start getting calls, or routine calls and we have an officer handling a routine call and we have something major that occurs in Livingston. That would be my concern as a chief.
CITY ATTORNEY …regarding liability…we would take a look at whatever situation..if you’re…creating an area – the ½ mile or ½ mile outside – then that means you’re getting more calls…that’s possible liability.
ESPINOZA …but then there’s Mutual Aid liability (?)
CITY ATTORNEY …it’s similar as if you’re called out there for Mutual Aid. If you’re called on Mutual Aid and there’s a lawsuit, you
SAMRA (2:12:03) I understand what you’re about to say was if the call goes to the SO first they make a determination that we need to respond, it’s different. But if a call comes directly to us, and we don’t make the right call, our Liability Insurance company can say “wait a minute. Why are you taking calls outside? It’s not on your policy to cover it.”…
CITY ATTORNEY I don’t know what the policy says. So we would have to take a look at what the policy says.
Also of course, we would have to take a look at our Labor Employment Agreements as well…