Grover Beach rejects Arroyo Grande police merger
May 22, 2012
By KAREN VELIE
Grover Beach City Council voted unanimously to reject an offer from Arroyo Grande to consolidate their police departments on Monday primarily because the proposal was akin to a bait and switch.
Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach city officials and staffers have been discussing for several decades melding their city’s police departments in an effort to save revenue. On May 8, the Arroyo Grande city council unanimously agreed to consolidate services and sent a proposal to Grover Beach.
The proposal included stipulations that Grover Beach police officers would be required to pass physical and psychological exams and undergo a back-ground check, while their brethren in Arroyo Grande would not have to undergo the same testing.
After reviewing the proposal, Grover Beach City Manager, Robert Perrault, recommended the council reject the proposal because he did not see the merger as a true consolidation, the city would lose control of its police services, and the financial benefits were uncertain.
Mayor John Shoals said the proposal did not appear to be the consolidation of services that had been recommended to the council at prior meetings.
“If it was a true consolidation, I would support it,” Shoals said. “I am not in support of contract services.”
City officials said they were also opposed to the proposal because it offered only minimal savings and could actually increase Grover Beach’s law enforcement costs during the first year.
“Once costs that are outside of the agreement, but related to the transfer and potential employee concessions are taken into account, the first year could actually cost the city of Grover Beach $115,000,” the staff report says.
Arroyo Grande Police Chief Steve Annibali said he was “very disappointed” that Grover Beach rejected his city’s proposal while noting that the proposal was for consolidation not contract services.
“There is a complete misunderstand of the difference between contracting and consolidation,” Annibali said. “Someone has to be the host city or we would have to do a police authority, which is more expensive.”
As part of the Arroyo Grande proposal, Grover Beach Police Chief Jim Copsey’s position would have been eliminated and he would have been offered a buyout. Nevertheless, he worked with Annibali in attempting to promote a consolidation in an effort to increase law enforcement services while lowering costs.
“Our council is not interested as long as it is a contract proposal,” Copsey said. “This was not what was presented to our council. And I don’t have to retire.”
Copsey said that the city’s budget shortfalls could be partially met by not filling two vacant or soon to be vacant positions while continuing several cost cutting measures already in place. The Grover Beach Police Officers Association is in negotiations with the city to continue already imposed pay cuts.
“Right now we can control our costs,” Copsey said.