The Turlock City Council is meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss the current status and futures of both the Turlock Police and Fire departments.
Public safety is one of the key issues facing the City of Turlock, with trying to find the balance between ensure the departments are properly funded, while maintain a reasonable budget.
Currently, public safety makes up a large majority of the general fund each year, however there are still many difficulties facing Turlock police and fire.
Both departments are currently short-staffed, especially the Turlock Police Department, which has cut 16 full-time positions since 2009, when the department had 130 full-time employees.
Currently, the Turlock Fire Department is allocated 78 full-time sworn officers, down from 86 in 2009, and 46 full-time non-sworn staff, the lowest it’s been in a decade.
Of the 78 allocated officers, 72 of the positions are filled; two officers are currently in training and four are in the academy. The department expects to have the vacancies full within six months to a year.
Even with the plan to have vacancies filled within a year, the City of Turlock and Turlock Associated Police Officers (TAPO) have been in a long battle over contracts. TAPO rejected the City’s contract in October and have been involved in closed session negotiations since.
TAPO and the City of Turlock are also involved in a legal battle over funds taken from Turlock police officer checks after the sunset clause had expired. The 9 percent taken from the TAPO members’ monthly salary resulted in about $45,000 in total.
The heads of the Turlock Police Department and City of Turlock will discuss options going forward to fully staff and fund the department.
The Turlock Fire Department is also facing some vacancies, although not as publicized as those of the Turlock Police Department.
Over recent years, the Turlock Fire Department has seen continuous increase in calls with nearly 300 more calls in 2014 (6,160) than in 2013 (5,879). Despite the increase in call volume, Turlock fire has managed to bring down response times to 5:00 minutes, the lowest since 2009.
Currently, the Turlock Fire Department staffs each engine with three firefighters, although the National Fire Protection Association recommends four per engine.
In addition to low staffing and a high volume of calls, the Turlock Fire Department has also recently absorbed the Neighborhood Services Department. Neighborhood Services deals with weed and graffiti abatement, noise permits, shopping carts, abandoned vehicles, etc.
Both departments will go over their past strategic plans and recommend changes going forward that will allow the Turlock City Council to help make a reality.
Turlock City Council will meet at 6 p.m. on Tuesday in the Yosemite Room of City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.