Merging the Albany Police Department with the Linn County Sheriff’s Office is about the furthest thing from anyone’s mind these days, with the exception of Tom Cordier. In emails, a talk with the county commissioners and a Monday appearance before the city council, the retired North Albany resident has been suggesting that Albany conduct a detailed study of such a combination in the interest of saving money.
The county board is reluctant to initiate such a study on its own. And the council Monday greeted Cordier’s brief address with a thank-you from the mayor and no other comment.
Cordier thinks the city should examine whether it could save money, especally now that is is proposing to build a $15 million police headquarters if voters approve a bond issue in the May 19 election. It’s unclear how the construction project bears on the merger notion since a combined police force would still need a headquarters, a place far bigger than either the police station or the sheriff’s quarters at the jail on Jackson Street.
Cordier pointed the council to a wealth of literature available online concerning police-sheriff mergers across the country. He also mentioned the Oregon cities of Wilsonville and Troutdale.
Wilsonville gets law enforcement from Clackamas County, which supplies the town with a police chief, one school officer, one detective and 15 deputies, asccording to the town’s website. In Troutdale, the city council last month approved an agreement to have the Multnomah County sheriff take over the city’s 27-employee police department.
According to a story in the Gresham Outlook, the sheriff will make the police chief a commander in his department, hire 9 Troutdale officers directly and put 15 others under contract with the sheriff, all of them for more money than they make now. Despite the raises, the city’s policing expense is expected to drop from $3.9 million to $3.1 million a year, even less in following years, but the paper didn’t explain how that’s possible.
The Albany Police Department says it has 60 sworn officers and 28 support workers. The Linn sheriff has 193 employees in six divisions, according to the department website, though that total likely dates from before several more were just hired to run a newly opened wing of the county jail.
The sheriff’s office also provides law enforcement under contract in Brownsvlle, Harrisburg, Mill City and Scio. It also has substations in Lebanon and Sweet Home, which have police forces of their own.
If either Albany or Linn County wants to pursue the contract or merger idea further, don’t look for conclusions, let alone concrete results, for a while. In Troutdale, the chief told his council last month he had been working on the plan for six years. (hh)