Friday, September 9, 2005

Police chief: Suisun needs more officers

From Daily Republic // Friday Sept. 9, 2005

By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City Police Chief Ron Forsythe told a Suisun City Council study session Thursday he needs two more officers to give his city the two dozen sworn officers it needs to protect the city.

"With that, we won't be in the crisis we are currently in," Forsythe said.

Whether that will be what the city council considers when it puts its budget together next month is up to a consultant who is creating his own report on what the police department's baseline staffing should be.

Mayor Jim Spering called in the consultant, saying he wanted an objective analysis of what was needed to protect the city. He warned the consultant that "I will be very upset if you represent the (police) department or the employees."

Forsythe did not get a hoped-for commitment from the council to bring back a 24-hour police department, with Spering replying the city has to determine what it is fiscally capable of doing first.

Suisun police has 22 authorized sworn officers, 17 of whom are patrol officers. Only 10 officers are available for patrolling the city and are putting in long, hard hours.

The police force has been stretched to the limit with tight funding and losses due to retirements, injuries and officers leaving for other jobs.

The Solano County Sheriff's Department has helped by handling early morning patrols for the past two years and both police and residents are concerned that the city's entire law enforcement may be contracted out.

Recently hired Commander Charlie Heitz told the council many officers are leaving because of the continuing long hours and a concern about the department's future.

"The future of the organization is in doubt," Heitz said.

Spering replied later saying the police department itself is perpetuating the rumors of contracting out, adding "I wish you would stop saying that."

Commander Larry Profitt started laying out the crime problems the city is facing, such as the increase in gang activity with gang members migrating to the city from neighboring Fairfield.
Suisun City was being seen as a "safe haven" for gangs, Profitt said.

Spering cut Profitt's report off, saying "we know there's gangs, we know there's shootings, we need to focus on what the staffing level needs to be."

It is now up to the consultant to analyze Forsythe's report and other information has collected from the city, and issue his report by early October.

The council will then have to determine what it can afford, where the money will come from and how the police department's staffing can be maintained long term.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or

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