There have been several letters advocating a Fountain Hills “town police department” instead of contracting with the Sheriff (MCSO) in order to save money. In contrast to this hypothesis, MCSO’s economy of scale offers the least expensive and most appropriate law enforcing authority for our town, even at full build out. The contractual Sheriff’s commitment guarantees us a number of patrol officers along with access to specialty teams. MCSO’s ability to clear and close cases surpasses most municipal departments.
In FY2019 we will pay MCSO half (52 percent) of what our neighboring communities pay for city policing. Our cost per capita is $187. Compare this to Scottsdale’s $426, Mesa’s $381, Chandler’s $302, Tempe’s $515 and Gilbert’s $241. All East/West Valley cities pay significantly more than either Fountain Hills or Queen Creek ($195); both use the Sheriff.
MCSO provides us 34 contract Sheriff employees at $137,521 each, including all labor, overhead, materials, equipment and benefits.
Proponents for a town police department failed to consider the additional infrastructure functions requiring new sworn and civilian employees. The 911 complaint dispatch center, records, evidence maintenance, accounting, employee relations, recurrent officer training, computer, vehicle and equipment administration will increase the town staff workload, requiring additional employees.
The startup of any police organization is a herculean undertaking, demanding skills unfamiliar to our town’s staff, inexperienced in these employments. It is extremely difficult and expensive to drop a functioning MCSO contract in favor of start-up city policing.
MCSO, the largest Sheriff's office in Arizona, shields us from liability claims and legal expense. Their retirement plan and career enhancement opportunities provide strong officer retention.
The facts support that contracting with the Sheriff (MCSO) affords significant cost savings without any impact on response time or clearance rates, producing more felony and misdemeanor arrests thereby, lowering crime rates.