In adopting this agreement with the Police Management Association, council members were effusive in their praise and gratitude. Council member Kish Rajan said: "This is a tremendous showing of leadership on the part of the police management association. The police have emblazoned on their patrol cars, "Working together to benefit our community." Their contribution to the financial health of the city is an example of them working together to benefit the community."
Some in the police department believe the city is taking advantage of their "contribution" and is sacrificing the welfare of public safety to projects such as the new library and refurbishing the city's pools.
Those in the PD not satisfied with the current state of affairs are airing their concerns on online message boards and on a new website, purportedly established by Walnut Creek police managers and officers. These statements come as the city council race gets underway.
In a response to the Walnut Creek Pach article on the council adopting the agreement, someone commenting noted that the department has lost nine positions due to budget cuts. The city says it has avoided laying anyone off in the department by not filling those positions.
On Friday, the Contra Costa Times reported the existence of a new website, "backed by police officers and managers" that criticizes public safety funding in Walnut Creek, and blasts the city council for cuts to police.
The website, The Future of Public Safety in Walnut Creek, says it offers information about cuts to public safety funding that is either under reported or not reported at all. On the home page, the publishers of the site say: "We find ourselves facing increases in the demand for police services with fewer officers, equipment and resources."
"City leaders are also imposing significant cuts to police salaries and benefits that will impact the current and future face of public safety in our community," it continues. "These cuts are being forced on employees as city leaders try to convince both employees and the public that we are in a budget crisis. The truth is current and former council members created this crisis. At the same time city leaders are blaming the police department for budget woes they are spending freely on new projects, buildings and programs. They also continue to subsidize numerous groups and organizations while making only token cuts."
The site takes particular aim at the new Walnut Creek library--an ongoing sore point for some in town. The site resurrects questions about the wisdom of building the library in the first place, pointing out that Walnut Creek resident twice rejected tax measures supporting it. "It is now clear the millions invested in the library have played a large role in the declining budget dollars for police funding," the site says.
The site also responds to questions about whether Walnut Creek already spends too much on police services and can make do with fewer officers, and whether the retirement deal officers receive is fair or in line with what police officers in other cities receive.
Councilman Bob Simmons told the Times he "disagrees" with the site's premise that the council has any disregard for public safety, while Assistant City Manager Lorie Tinfow "said some things stated on the site as fact are inaccurate -- for example, the claim that the department has fewer police officers than it did 20 years ago."