Atherton residents have had a very close, cooperative relationship with our dedicated police force for many years. The Town pays more for police services than for any other component of Town operations. While some residents have advocated that Atherton reduce costs by outsourcing police services to the county sheriff’s office, the vast majority of Atherton residents want the close, community-oriented relationship that we have with our police. Atherton residents also benefit from a number of special residential services that are provided by our police which are not widely available in other communities, such as the ability to connect our home alarm systems directly to the police department, regular house visits by police when residents are going to be away from their homes, and a personal relationship with the police that enables residents to feel secure in their homes.
When any single line item in a budget is the largest, it will always stand out for criticism. While we need to stay diligent on what our police services are costing us, it is clear that most residents feel very strongly that home security is the top priority for local government and they want to maintain an extremely high level of service from our police. In order to provide the services that residents want at a price that they are willing to support, the Council and staff need to address both sides of the equation in the course of good faith contract negotiations.
I believe that my experience with strategic negotiations can help the residents of Atherton maintain their close, cooperative relationship with the police. The Council’s careful, mindful and professional management of its relationship with the police union is one of its most important Council responsibilities on behalf of residents.