Grover Beach police rebuff Arroyo Grande merger

May 10, 2012

Grover Beach Police Chief James Copsey


A plan which could lead to the consolidation of two South County police departments met its first serious resistance this week when officers from Grover Beach balked at potential personnel cuts in their ranks.

Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach city officials are involved in year-long discussions regarding the melding of their city’s police departments into that of Arroyo Grande in an effort to save an estimated $1 million.

After hearing that at least three of their sworn officer positions would be eliminated under the current scenario of the revenue-saving plan, members of the Grover Beach Police Officers Association (GBPOA) decided they “cannot support any proposal that results in the loss of job for any of our members.”

That message was contained in a letter signed by GBPOA president Juan Leon and delivered last week to Grover Beach Police Chief Jim Copsey. Leon said his group’s members were also “highly concerned” about a background, psychological, and medical testing system proposed to be applied to Grover Beach officers wishing to be part of the combined department.

Grover Beach officers also objected to a proposed probation period they deemed would be used by Arroyo Grande police officials to eliminate employees who passed the testing, but did not meet Arroyo Grande’s expectations.

And while officials agreed to drop the probation period requirement, the GBPOA said in the letter that its members were “highly concerned that the proposed testing process will be used to systematically target and eliminate members who are deemed ‘unwanted’ or substandard.”

Copsey said he was “a bit surprised” by the association’s letter, but remains optimistic.

“If and when the council decides to go forward with this,” said Copsey, “the best way is to have everybody supportive of it.”

The chief said if that support does not exist, “then we have to address those issues or find other solutions.” He suggested much work is needed “in order to make this successful,” but noted that his officers’ association “is still open to discussions, but they do have an issue with the current plan as proposed (at the May 8 Arroyo Grande City Council meeting). They don’t want any lost jobs. That’s very understandable.”

Copsey’s original proposal to his council was a concept that did not involve any job cuts, and was one that was supported by his officers.

Ironically, Copsey is working on a plan which, if it comes to fruition, might result in the elimination of his own job.

“I realized that was the situation going into this process,” said Copsey. “I’m not ready to retire, but I’ll do what is best for the city.”

The  Arroyo Grande City Council Tuesday pushed a version of the plan forward by expanding a study committee to involve the public and a wider variety of interested parties.

Grover Beach City Manager Bob Perrault said he and other city officials have not yet seen the current proposal, “but we’ll certainly take the POA’s position into account when we review it.”


The Arroyo Beach PD? Sounds good.

This decision is the responsibility of the City Councils of both cities with input from citizens. It isn’t and shouldn’t be made by the police departments.

It’s a tough call because every city wants to have its own fire and police departments. It’s one of the biggest reasons that townships incorporate into cities.

And it is about control, local control. and cities fight like Hell to keep the agencies once they are formed. But the economic reality is that through standardizing the training and equiping of police agencies, parity in pay and benefits, and conformity in staffing follow.

The problem is the police standardizing agencies don’t take into acount crime rates or a city’s ability to afford comparable pay scales. And maybe it shouldn’t. Cops everywhere have the same dangers and such, so the pay should probably at least be close in parity.

But the true dangers of the job in a place like Grover, AG or Morro Bay are far less in reality but still exist. One never knows if the next call they get is the one that will change their lives forever.

There should be some savings through things like shared property/evidence clerks, dispatchers, closure of one of the station houses and administration.

A new strategic plan for a combined department would and should be written to coordinate stuff like patrol zones, shifts, staffing levels, etc… And the councils will need an understanding on what each’s responsibilities are to be, especially with funding.

And if the citizens of either town don’t want this, then they need to step up to the plate and raise their own taxes to pay for keeping their agencies.

Moment of truth time is coming for AG and Grover.

And I’d have to disagree with the criticisms of the Sheriff’s Department. While there have been some embarassing situations over the past several years, Parkinson seems to me to be doing a good job. With more than 250 employees, there are bound to be issues, personal and professional, too.

Taking over patrol of Grover Beach would not be much of a burden for the SO. But no other city in the county does this, so it would be precedent setting.

But under a contract, the city can spell out exactly how many patrolmen they want on the street, investigators, school cops, DARE, etc…

Small cities all over the state are contracting with their local sheriff, so it isn’t unheard of.

Last word, when something big happens neither AG or Grover can match the police resources that the Sheriff’s Department can bring in quickly. And they do so now through mutual aid agreements and such..

Downtown Bob

This is all about control. If they really wanted to save money, they would contract with the Sheriff’s Office to provide law enforcement services.

The brass, dispatchers, and facilities are all under the of the City Council/ Mayor. That translates to control in my book.

The redundancy compared to the Sheriff’s Office which could have just a store front office there in the area. Most of the management would be eliminated as well as the need for 911/dispatchers 24/7 is amazing. They apparently contract out all the time down in Orange County for huge savings for better law enforcement protection.

Bottom line is this: Control and Power.


WTF are you talking about.

I live in Grover Beach and our very small police force has 10 times the dedication of service to our community and 100 times the integrity of the clowns working for the sheriff. Don’t even get started on the liabilities and misconduct of the tarnished sheriff’s department, they are a joke and not much has changed with Parkinson.

It is my strongest opinion that if a city can not afford to provide city services it should not be a city. Contracting to larger entities has proven to be more expensive in the long run, contract LEO’s have a significantly higher rate of misconduct and legal liabilities with significantly less accountability to the local community.



I have to disagree, I also live in Grover Beach and have a different opinion of our police force. Before our last election a friend of mine was driving down Oak Park a few mintues before the polls closed and stopped at the 3-way at Saratoga, sitting in the private driveway was a Grover Beach officer watching for stop sign violations. After stopping, my friend proceeded a few more blocks to the polling place only to be followed by the officer and though it was explained they were trying to vote the officer refused to allow them to go ahead and vote and while writing the ticket the polling placed closed, and my firend was not able to vote. Now I don’t want to get into rolling stops and the issue of stopping but I least think the officer could have allowed my friend to vote and then given out the ticket. I was told the officer was very rude and didn’t even want to consider letting my friend vote. Now this might have been just the officer but I feel attitudes often come from the top. I also have to wonder why Grover Beach would be affraid of background, psychological, and medical testing, why would we not want the best officers available? We are always told we pay so much so we can get the most talented people and wouldn’t testing help make sure of this? Would the medical testing also include drug testing, why would police officers be affraid of this? I have to wonder.


Every officer went through that testing prior to being hired. I believe it is a state law regulated through P.O.S.T. I could be wrong on that.

Unfortunate for your friend. The cop only had two choices once he stopped him.

1. lawfully stop the offender and write the ticket for the offense that was committed.

2. After lawfully stopping, identifying and ascertaining the intentions of the offender. Give him a warning and Ignore the observed offense.

Unfortunately, once your stopped it’s not practical for the officer to let you go and give you a ticket later.

Your friend should have voted earlier instead of waiting till the last minuet. It is his fault of his own actions that lead to him not getting to the polling place safely and on time.


I’m sure they did testing prior to getting hired, but like many jobs re-testing is often done and something required. I feel for police officers it would only makes sense to re-test on a regular basics. Why would the police department be opposed to this?

I don’t want to get into what questions of what choices the cop had and such, but it would seem he certainhly could have taken the drivers license, let my friend vote, then written the ticket, since they were in the parking lot of the polling station.

I will say my friend normally votes after work but that particular day was delayed, getting off work, actually due to an emergency. In any case I certainly don’t see a reason a respectable officers would not have let my friend vote, then if needed issued the ticket. It just goes to being courteous, something many people are in short supply of.

Again, I just have to wonder why the police officers would be opposed to re-testing?

Downtown Bob

“Don’t even get started on the liabilities and misconduct of the tarnished sheriff’s department, they are a joke and not much has changed with Parkinson.”

I believe you are very unaware of the professionalism and dedication that the employees of the Sheriff possess. The current employees of GBPD and AGPD could be given probationary jobs at the Sheriff’s office and provided that they perform well they could continue. There may be some less than stellar characters that need to find other work but that is life in the big city.

AS for the ticket your friend received, not knowing the actual turn of events, and based upon only what you know about the situation, a decent and thoughtful officer would have allowed the person to vote then return to the officer or just given him a warning. How much more would that have accomplished rather than piss off a citizen? That guy would have been more careful at stop signs from then on our probably and would have been good press for the officer. Too bad for GBPD they seem to have little man complex since they are probably the least desirable LE agency to work for in San Luis Obispo County and maybe they are pushing their authority to get their jollies.


Your strongest opinion is correct IMO. Wait till Nichols gets elected mayor if you wanna see Grover go to hell. Nichols dosent have the skill,personality or qualifications the be a cashier at 7/11 much less a mayor or councilman.


Why would any community be forced to have “substandard” police officers?


Grover Beach does not have a sub standard police force. It is a very well managed small city police force that does a lot more work per officer than any other agency in the county. Our current and last police chief are and were very proactive with the community. I believe they have done an outstanding job with the few resources they have.

It is very likely that the Arroyo Grande chief is looking for excuses to keep Grover Beach officers he does not like or the ones who are more qualified from obtaining or achieving rank above his favorite officers in his inner circle.

Talk about substandard. Look at the current legal liabilities facing Arroyo Grand police chief and city manager that will be paid for by the tax payers. Any future liabilities that occur at the direction of the Arroyo Grande chief will have a direct increase in contracting costs to Grover Beach tax payers.


I believe you’re on track in regards to what AGPD chief Annibali’s true intentions. He is a risk GBPD should not become involved in. I live and work in Grover Beach and personally know several of the officers that serve our community. They do an excellent job especially given the fact they are busy.

And one has to ask the question; Other than reducing the city budget which the city council is working through, are we reading or hearing about the chief’s misconduct or lawsuits against GBPD?


How can it save money if it doesn’t eliminate positions?


Grover Beach police department is being smart when they voice their concerns over consolidating with AGPD. Lets not forget the real issue here is that The City of Arroyo Grande and Chief Annibali have three major legitimate lawsuits agaisnt him. If I were an employee with Grover Beach I would have major concerns over keeping my job if Annibali took over. I have to agree with the GB city council when they stated in their co uncil meeting in April that they all had major con Ernst with what. was happening at AGPD and their city.


Correction on my last post:

In the April GB city council meeting several of the council members stated they had some major concerns over what was happening at Arroyo Grande Police department and the city in general. From everything that i have read about Annibali and Adams there appears to be a huge red flag waving aboue their heads (the police department). GBPD officers and city council should really think about consolidating with a city that is filled with debt, half-truths, and drama.


You know, Changes, tat’s an excellent point, but one that either this article or the GBPD missed.


These are different and difficult. Everyone, everywhere are having to make decisions they never thought they would have to be making. That is the reality of the times and it is not changing anytime soon. If your City didn’t do this merge, there is no guarantee for your and anyone else’s job. Let’s City, you don’t want to do what is good for the community before it goes bankrupt, you don;t want pay cuts, you don’t want reduced benefits, you don’t want to pay for your pension (I know you had to concede to some of this kicking and fighting) but the truth is times are going to get harder not easier as Obama’s handouts are coming to an end. Wake up please, don’t live in fear, and think outside the box!


Why doesn’t Copsey get the Chief job if the two cities merge the PDs? Who pays for the golden handshake?


First the fire departments were consolidated. Then the two chambers. Now they’re talking about the police departments. If each of these consolidations save each entity money while maintaining or improving services to the public, perhaps the time has come for the two cities to merge. One is hurting and the other is broke. It seems to make sense. And one side benefit might be that with a larger voting constituency maybe some brighter people might be attracted to serve on the city council.


Lee, Are you BRIGHT enough to run for city council? Or is your only contribution to bitch, moan and complain.


This is ridiculous, but so utterly expected from a union as blind as selfish as the Police Union.

Citizens throughout this country and county are being laid off because of these economic times, it’s not surprising the effects are reaching the ranks of law enforcement as well. Look, PD, no one wants to be laid off, but sometimes it just has to be done.

And as for the GBPOA saying that its members were “highly concerned that the proposed testing process will be used to systematically target and eliminate members who are deemed ‘unwanted’ or substandard.” HELLO???? HELLO???? PD, If your department deems you “unwanted” or “substandard,” guess wha? You shouldn’t be serving our community. Like it or not, that’s how most employment arrangements work in this country. It’s standard.

Police Union, get your collective heads out of your tushes and start realizing that you are not sacred cows, and we are tired of your bullsh**.


I think they have reason to be concerned — the reason you give. I had two separate contacts with the GBPD last year and neither left me with a good impression.

Mr. Leon (I assume the same person who is the union president) became a bit arrogant and mildly intimidating when I walked into a situation where he was interrogating a neighbor. Not way overboard, but given the situation, he was not as respectful as he could have been.

In another case, a different officer fumbled on the details of a police report. Again, nothing bad resulted but it speaks to competence. (At least he was civil and decent in his behavior.)

Then, there was the more publicized case of the officer who jumped to conclusions about an alleged kidnapping and tased an elderly suspect who was cooperating with the command of an AG officer assisting on the call and who turned out to be not guilty.

This makes me wonder about the general competence of the force ( I am sure there are some who are good) and if my concerns are correct, maybe they recognize that some of their less psychologically or mentally competent members will be let go if the merger takes place.


In the past ten plus years I have have encountered or observed Officer Leon now Sargent Leon during numerous incidents throughout the city, in my neighborhood and at my house at the request of my own 911 calls. I have always observed Sargent Leon to be professional and courteous. I have seen him arrest breaking and entering suspects, vandalism suspects, DUI suspect at a accident, handle domestic violence and other neighborhood disturbances. Always with professionalism and courtesy to all involved.

Then officer Leon has driven by my home several times and given a friendly wave and even stopped a few times over the years to say hello. I have had the pleasure of several Grover Beach Officers do this over the years. The chief is friendly and courteous and always has taken the time to say hello or chat with. I have never had a bad experience with a Grover Beach Police Officer. Even when getting a traffic ticket from these same officers, including one from retired Chief Bradbury who I have the upmost respect for. 

With that said. There is a new Sargent. An older guy with salt & pepper hair. Who I have observed to be very stand offish and despite my numerious attemps of waving at him as he drives by or hanging out at the corner stop sign to give a friendy wave or nod in return. I even approched him a few months ago after he finished a call at nieghbors house and said hello to him as he was walking past me to his SUV. Unfortunately he ignored me and kept walking. So, I would have to say that was the rudest encounter I ever have had with a Grover Beach cop.  If that’s the worst it gets. I can live with that.


I guess Mayberry never wanted to join Hooterville either.


What saith the Village idiot?