CCSD, Elk Grove's Measure E workshop #1 on public safety draws engaged audience

About three dozen Elk Grove residents attending a presentation on how public safety would like to spend money generated by the voter-approve Measure E sales tax hike. | 

An audience of about three dozen people attended the first of four workshops held by the city of Elk Grove and the Cosumnes Community Services District on their plans to spend the revenue generated by Measure E. Approved by Elk Grove voters in November, starting April 1, Measure E will levy an additional one percent sales tax on most consumer purchases in the city and is expected to raise $23 million in its first 12 months.

As part of the outreach, the city held the first workshop last night at the District56 facility. The focus of the first 90-minute presentation was public safety. 

After opening comments by Elk Grove city manager Jason Berhmann, the audience heard presentations by Elk Grove Police Department Chief Bobby Davis, Cosumnes Fire Department Chief Felipe Rodriquez. and CCSD parks administrator Phil Lewis.

Measure E was placed on the ballot by the Elk Grove City Council, and the city has promised to share revenue with the CCSD, which is responsible for most parks in the city and operates the Cosumnes Fire Department. Although the city has promised tax revenue sharing, which will increase annually with inflation, it has not indicated how much. 

The opening presentation by Davis focused on the needs of the EGPD. Davis offered a long list of items the police department could use the money for, including three new dispatchers, increased motorcycle patrols, problem-oriented policing, after-school programs, additional staffing of mental health clinicians, and enhanced technological capabilities like the expanded use of drones.  

"For us, Measure E is going to allow us to grow our patrol services, the first responders that come to you in a crisis," Davis said. 

Another idea floated by Davis was funding a community prosecutor in the Sacramento District Attorney's office. Davis explained this funding would allow a dedicated prosecutor to pursue misdemeanors in Elk Grove that frequently are dropped by the DA's office.

"Oftentimes, when something small happens that truly affects the quality of life, it is a misdemeanor, and they don't always get prosecuted," Davis said. "The small thing we feel violated with are specifically addressed with our community prosecutor." 

Davis noted about 30 percent of police calls involve people in a mental health crisis. Measure E, he said, will allow the department to hire mental health clinicians for these calls.

During this portion of his presentation, Davis was peppered with questions by Elk Grove resident Michael Monasky about the qualifications of the clinicians, who will be accompanied by police officers when responding to mental health crisis calls. After an uneasy exchange about qualifications, Rodriguez intervened and noted the importance of gathering public input.

"We have to hear from everyone whether you like it or don't like it, that's part of our job," Rodriquez said. "So I love that moment as uncomfortable as it might have been." 
Cosumnes Fire Department
Chief Felipe Rodriguez. 

Rodriguez noted the CFD's average response time is seven and a half minutes, while the national standard is five minutes. That response time could decrease with more staffing, Rodriquez claimed. 

About 75 percent of the calls the CFD handles are for medical services. In two years, calls have grown from 20,000 annually to 24,000. 

"We should have 18 more firefighters on top of what we have," Rodriguez said. 

Rodriguez said the fire department needs more ambulances, fire engines, and facility improvements to supplement the additional staffing. With additional staffing, another battalion chief would be required, he added.

Phil Lewis, the CCSD parks administrator, made a brief presentation on public safety as it relates to parks. Specifically, he said the district wants to add a recreation coordinator for at-risk youth.  

After the presentations, the audience was invited to visit break-out groups for police, fire, and parks to express their ideas and to comment on the needs presented by Davis, Rodriguez, and Lewis. Joining the three presenters were several city and CCSD staff members.  

Before breaking out, Davis thanked the audience for their participation. He also noted the importance of gathering community input.

"It's OK to not agree with everything we would like to see because it may not be everything you want to see," Davis said.  

The next meeting will be held on Monday, February 13, at District56. The session starts at 6 p.m. and will focus on economic development.  

The entire presentation can be heard in the podcast posted below. 

Listen Time 52 Minutes 

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