Friday, August 31, 2012

Sacramento police chief saysTwin Rivers force should contract with his department - Sacramento Bee

Sacramento Police Chief Rick Braziel said Twin Rivers Unified School District should look seriously at disbanding its Police Department in order to contract out for policing needs.

Braziel said Twin Rivers could save $1 million by contracting with the Sacramento Police Department. Twin Rivers' Police Department has an annual operating budget of $3.7 million.

Braziel said the departure of Twin Rivers acting Police Chief Scott LaCosse and Lt. Mike Sales causes him concerns. In January, the Twin Rivers school district brought LaCosse and Sales in to reform its troubled police force, which is being investigated by the Sacramento Police Department for criminal conduct, mismanagement and misconduct.

LaCosse and Sales submitted their resignation letters following a showdown Tuesday with the district's school board over who ultimately makes school policing decisions â€" elected trustees or police leaders.

Last week, LaCosse and Sales discontinued the district's K-9 program, saying the use of a police dog was out of line with the revised mission of the school police force. On Tuesday, trustees voted 4-2 with one abstention to reinstate the services of the district's police dog, Jag. The Belgian Malinois returned to duty Thursday night with his handler, Officer Arlin Kocher.

At Tuesday's board meeting, William Cho, past president of the Twin Rivers Police Officers Association, said the union was prepared to take a no confidence vote in LaCosse and Sales. Cho said LaCosse and Sales had created a hostile work environment and that morale has never been worse than under the current administration. Cho said the department had a sterling reputation before LaCosse and Sales took over.

On Thursday, Kocher said Cho's comments were not an endorsement of the previous Twin Rivers administration, which was rebuked by the grand jury.

Kocher said the Police Officers Association is not aligned with Police Chief Christopher Breck, who has been on paid administrative leave since November.

"We fully support a new revised mission in line with the job we were hired to do," Kocher said.

Braziel said he hopes to continue working with Twin Rivers in order to help the Police Department make needed changes.

"They were on a great path, and that path got derailed, which causes us concerns," Braziel said. "We can't go backward. That's my concern. They have to decide whether to hire a new police chief or whether they should contract out (for police services)."

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Call The Bee's Melody Gutierrez, (916) 326-5521. Follow her on Twitter @MelodyGutierrez.

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