Biggs transitions law enforcement to county sheriff’s office
BIGGS » After the city’s contract with the Gridley Police Department expired at the end of June, Biggs is now contracting with the Butte County Sheriff’s Office to handle law enforcement duties within city limits and the surrounding area.
The transition was made complete July 1 following a March vote from the Biggs City Council to sign an agreement with the BCSO.
Law enforcement staffing in Biggs now includes one dedicated area deputy, one community service officer, in addition to 24-hour, seven-daysper-week patrols, according to Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea. The move also allowed for the BCSO to set up a small substation within Biggs City Hall, city manager Mark Sorensen said.
Sorensen provided this newspaper a budget estimate between the Gridley Police Department and BSCO proposals. For the 2020-21 fiscal
year, contracting with the BCSO is estimated to cost approximately $568,062, which is $27,000 more than the estimate with Gridley Police Department, but also includes one-time startup costs.
In the following two fiscal years, however, Biggs City Council estimated the city will save between $68,000 and $73,000 annually by contracting with the BCSO.
Sorensen said the cost is a component of why the city opted to go with the BCSO, but said the more important part is what they believe will be an improvement to law enforcement in the area.
“Previously we had absolutely nothing dedicated to Biggs,” Sorensen said, noting that Gridley police patrolled Biggs, but didn’t have staff in the city. “Now going to the sheriff, we have a full-time community service deputy, full-time dedicated area deputy in this area, plus the sheriff already had a school resource deputy stationed in Biggs schools. There was that synergy and continuity and building on that existing presence.”
Within the BCSO, the dedicated area deputy team consists of one sergeant and four or five deputies depending on staffing levels, Honea said. They are responsible for the more remote, outlying areas of the county and move in conjunction depending on trends within the county. Having that presence in Biggs, with a population of a little less 2,000, and the surrounding
areas will be “mutually beneficial” for the city and BCSO, Honea said.
“By them funding a dedicated area deputy who would have responsibility overall for Biggs and the surrounding areas,” Honea said, “that allows us to utilize that dedicated area deputy in conjunction with the other designated area deputies who have responsibility in the adjacent areas (and) to have a coordinated law enforcement approach throughout the region, as opposed to just focusing on the city limits.”
“We’re part of obviously what’s going on throughout Butte County and even neighboring counties,” Sorensen said. “It’s just the fact that the sheriff was much better equipped in terms of resources and critical mass and level of staffing to help us out (and) improve law enforcement quality and quantity in the city.”
The BCSO previously served as the operating law enforcement agency in Biggs, before the city moved to the Gridley Police Department 19 years ago. Honea said the BCSO is looking forward to providing service in Biggs, adding “we think our approach will allow us to leverage resources and provide an overall better response.”
The Gridley Police Department, which previously operated as the Gridley-Biggs Police Department, addressed the change publicly in a May 14 Facebook post, saying, “We will continue to be active and assist the Butte County Sheriff’s Office.”
Contact reporter Will Denner at 530-896-7774.