Reinforcing the Police Department – In 2012, we commissioned the Arroyo Group study to determine where we needed to shore up the Police Department. The Great Recession forced eight much needed positions to be on hold for several years. The study confirmed many of the good techniques being used by the Police Department to maintain law and order with limited resources (like rotating assignments regardless of seniority and the extensive use of ComStat to measure success), but the Arroyo Report also provided much needed guidance. Lack of succession planning and a path for upward mobility to younger officers can cause the attrition of good personnel. To solve this issue while not having the funds to substantially grow police presence, I pushed for the funding of a third Police Captain this fiscal year to provide a succession plan for the Chief when he retires in the not to distant future. Once the succession plan is implemented we will return to two captains, and those funds will be used as the down payment on two of the eight line officers we need.
Fighting Gangs and Sex Offenders – I also fought for the better integration of communication between Police and Public Works on graffiti and gang identification that is working well three years later. I also led the Council majority in fighting legal claims from sex offender attorney’s and advocates that wish to eliminate our ordinances protecting children.
Preserving Liberty & Quality of Life – With all eyes on our neighboring cities of Anaheim and Fullerton, one might ask why Orange has not had a police incident that shocks the community. I truly believe that despite the department being overstressed, it is the unique culture of Orange that allows for differences among people and the ethic of service above self from the Chief, Captains, command staff and line officers. We only hire the best officers that adhere to the Chief’s 5 Pillars of Success and realize the delicate balance of being a police officer in free society. A great example of this is the Homeless Engagement/Enforcement Assistance and Response Team (“HEART”). Orange is the only law enforcement agency in the county that has all of its officers go through training and certification in identifying and responding to individuals with mental health problems. Orange PD has now written a manual on how to identify and respond to the mentally ill that other departments around the country are now using. At the end of June the City of Orange was given the Association of California Cities – Golden Hub of Innovation – Public Safety Award for the HEART program.
Collaborating for Efficiency in the Fire Department – Over in the Fire Department, we looked at the efficiency, response times, and cost of the “in house” ambulance service the City has run since 1996. We put out an RFP for private ambulance services and with the approval of the Fire Union negotiated a contract with Care Ambulance to take back part of that service. But as a City we were not satisfied. The Fire Union and our new Fire Chief Pat Dibb worked together to provide an alternative model staffing ambulance/paramedic in different locations that significantly decreased response times and costs below the private proposal. We also worked with the Fire Union to implement “light duty” for those on “worker’s comp” claims. All my clients in the private sector have been doing that for years to encourage injured workers to get back to work. Three years ago we spent over $900,000 on Worker’s Comp claims in the Fire Department. “ Light Duty” was implemented this last year and claims costs have come down significantly already. Through our savings we’ve been able to restore funding to our internal reserve accounts, so that we will have the funds to buy fire trucks and other equipment, which often costs in excess of $1 million.
As pension costs go up in 2016, we need to look at operations further. Our firefighters are the best in the county, and we have been blessed to have our own department for over 100 years. Yet, the fully burdened cost of a every firefighter is high and the costs continue to grow. Some cities like Santa Ana have had to give up local control and outsource to the County in order to save money. We will not do that. Orange has been very prudently managed as a city. To maintain our history of local control, we have to be efficient with our staff and focus our firefighting resources on the critical tasks of fire suppression and medical rescue for which they were trained. I believe we can and should explore with the department other options for ambulance driving, fire prevention, and shift switching rules to make sure we provide the best public safety for the dollar.