Garden Grove

Measure O to bring bigger police force

TODD ELGIN, Garden Grove police chief, at press conference in City Hall on Tuesday on  plans to use Measure O funds to beef up law enforcement. At left is Mayor Steve Jones, and at right is Councilmember Stephanie Klopfenstein (Orange County Tribune photo).

By Jim Tortolano

As many as 16 new positions in the police department are expected to be created to fight crime and preserve order in Garden Grove as a consequence of the approval of the Measure O one-cent sales tax increase by Garden Grove voters on Nov. 6

At a press conference in City Hall on Tuesday afternoon, city leaders unveiled plans – still to be approved by the city council – to beef up law enforcement in the Big Strawberry.

City Manager Scott Stiles began by saluting voters for their approval of the tax levy. “We want to thank our community for showing confidence that we will use Measure O revenues so that great services will be continued to be provided to Garden Grove.”

He added “We have been determined to come out of the gate with immediate action steps that we believe reflect the wishes of the community when they approved Measure O.”

The proposal includes the recruitment of:

  • 10 full-time police officers;
  • one full-time police sergeant;
  • five new police support personnel (dispatchers, records specialists, community service officers).

Such recruitment will begin immediately, with a focus on bilingual officers.

Additionally, one full-time police officer would be dedicated to the Special Resources Team, which addresses issues related to homelessness.

Police chief Todd Elgin told the press and others at the conference “Today is a great day for the Garden Grove Police Department.” He outlined how the city had changed from a bedroom community into what’s becoming a “big city.”

He praised the work of an undermanned police force and said, “Now … now we have the chance to do something great.”

Currently there are 168 sworn personnel positions in the GGPD, down from a peak of 175 in 1998.  Garden Grove has generally had the smallest police force per capita of any Orange County city.

Improvements aren’t limited to more personnel. A new public safety building – to replace the current one, which dates back to the early 1970s – is envisioned with the creation of requests for proposals to design a new facility.

The sales tax to pay for all of this doesn’t kick in until April 1, 2019, and the funds won’t be available until July 2019. Given the time necessary to recruit and hire new officers, the new and additional officers probably won’t start duty until January 2019.

Additionally, the city council will create a citizen oversight committee to monitor the use of Measure O funds.

 

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