Millbrae cops face uncertain futureBy Stephen Baxter
Some Millbrae police officers are worried about their future as the city mulls plans to contract police services from the county Sheriff's Office, but Mayor Marc Hershman said Monday he wants to thicken the Millbrae police force with a new chief and more officers.
The Millbrae Police Officers Association is asking the city to clarify what will be in the upcoming city budget, and if the $4.1 million chunk set aside for police will last another year.
The association released a statement this weekend warning that the city might contract out to the county, but city officials said they did not receive the document until Monday. Hershman said he had no intention of tapping county officers.
Millbrae police officers do not have a sworn police chief and have been working without a contract for more than a year.
Police Officers Association President John Aronis said Monday he blames previous city administrators for bungling the city budget and making it harder to support a police force. School officers, police dogs and an investigations bureau have been cut in the last few years.
More than anything, the association wants to know their jobs are secure and what the city plans to do with the 12 officers, four sergeants, lieutenant and captain.
"What we don't want is instability. If the city can't afford us maybe it's time to move on," Aronis said.
Public Safety Director Dennis Haag said the city's plans to outsource its law enforcement are in "very preliminary discussions," but a task force met to talk about it two weeks ago.
"When you start doing things differently, anxiety levels increase," Haag said. "We don't have any of the answers, it's an exploratory type of thing."
Aronis said the city has not given the police association clear direction, and said he supports City Manager Ralph Jaeck's efforts to fix it. Jaeck took the post three months ago and on Monday was not available for comment.
Hershman said Jaeck met with about 15 police and Haag last Friday to open communications between the city and police.
Hershman also said he is interested in hiring a police chief, though he wondered where the $200,000 salary would come from.
Aronis said the city also might be trying to get away from potentially expensive liability claims against Millbrae police, referring to a recent car chase in which a claim has been made.
Millbrae police had also discussed merging police forces with neighboring Burlingame two years ago. The cities share a parks and recreation director.
Copyright ©2005 San Mateo Daily Journal. Published 02/01/2005.