Biggs tran­si­tions law en­force­ment to county sher­iff’s of­fice

Enterprise-Record (Chico) - - FRONT PAGE - By Will Den­ner wden­

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.

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