Lincoln - especially downtown - has a little bit of Mayberry in it.
Folks linger in the barbershop to chat, shop owners call to customers by name and the new police chief takes lunchtime strolls.
But things are not quite idyllic in this normally quiet Placer County town of 43,000.
With a budget ravaged by recession, over the last five years the city has cut its police force in half, giving it the lowest number of police officers per capita of any California city with a police department, according to a Bee review of the city budget and FBI data.
In 2008, Lincoln employed 38 full-time, sworn cops; today, it has 19.5 paid positions.
The city has 4.5 police officers for every 10,000 residents. The average for all California cities is about 15 per 10,000 residents.
Normal patrol staffing is three deputies and one sergeant, with very little specialized staff to back them up.
"When you are deploying that few people across a 24/7 deployment, it's pretty precarious," said interim Police Chief Daniel Ruden. "One call and your resources are depleted."
Lincoln Fire Department hasn't fared much better. It had to close one of its three stations and has cut staffing by 32 percent, from a peak of 28 firefighters to its current 19. Meanwhile, calls for service have increased.
Without enough staff or money for overtime, one of the two trucks is at less than full staff 71 percent of the time. Once or twice a week, the department is so shorthanded it can operate only one truck, said interim Chief Mike Davis.
"It sounds crazy to have one fire station servicing 45,000 people," Davis said.
Police and fire staffing has been the subject of considerable discussion recently. In February, the Lincoln City Council, on a 5-0 vote, turned back proposals to contract with outside agencies for police and fire services.
Cost was a factor, said Ruden. But so was loyalty.
"There was a lot of love in the room," Ruden said of the public meeting.
How bad can it be?
Some in Lincoln don't see much of a problem with the shortage of police officers.
On a recent Friday, Lincoln resident Jeff Greenberg took up a chair at Lincoln City Barber to discuss the news of the day with owner Al Holland.
"Do we need more police because we are a city of crime? No," Greenberg concluded. "It's a good town. I don't worry. I don't worry about my wife walking around."
"I ain't worried," he said.
Ruden, who took the interim chief job Feb. 25 after retiring from the Rocklin Police Department, popped in after lunch and greeted the two men before walking back to the police station.
What Holland and Greenberg didn't know was that Ruden already was deeply involved with a problem that was straining his department's limited resources. A little over an hour earlier, about 11:30 a.m., a bomb threat had been called in to Lincoln High School.
Ruden talked calmly about the situation, but the department was treating the threat as real until proved otherwise.
The one city firetruck on duty and an ambulance were moved to the police station to be ready to respond. A sergeant and the city's two detectives came in on their days off to help track down the caller.
The students were moved to the school athletic fields while a team of officers and school officials could be assembled to sweep the school.
As the end of the school day approached, school officials decided to release the students. That created the need for traffic control as a flood of concerned parents rushed to the school. The department leaned on some of the 40 department volunteers to handle the traffic duties.
Ruden said he was happy to have the volunteers, but would rather have money to rebuild the department.
While it would be great to have school resource officers, a traffic officer and other specialists, he said, his first order of business would be restocking the day-to-day patrol staff.
"You have three officers on the street and one has to take someone to jail, and now you have two officers on the street," Ruden said. Most calls dictate a two-officer response.
Then there are sick leave, court appearances, family leave and other absences, all of which require him to bring in another officer on overtime, Ruden said.
At that point, Ruden's discussion was cut short by media requests for information about the bomb threat. He called Jill Thompson, the city's public information officer, for help. Thompson, another budget victim, had been cut to part time and wasn't on duty. But she agreed to make and answer calls from San Francisco, where she was spending the day.
At 2 p.m., Ruden stepped out of his office to hear updates about the bomb threat: The Sacramento and Placer county sheriff's departments had denied Lincoln's requests for a bomb-sniffing dog; detectives were looking at the records of the phone that made the threatening call.
Manpower isn't the only department need, Ruden noted.
Behind the station he pointed out a hodgepodge of police vehicles, one painted white, a couple black, a handful black and white. All are old, he said. Each had a different light rack, as if they were purchased at a rummage sale.
Back inside, at 2:15 p.m. an officer walked a young man into an interview room. That's not the caller, Ruden is told. The kid has said that someone else used his phone to make the call. Ruden popped into the interview room to encourage the kid to cooperate.
By 3 p.m., it was concluded that the threat was a hoax, and by the following Tuesday detectives had arrested another Lincoln High School student.
But the incident was taxing. What if a major accident or crime had happened on the same afternoon?
"We can be quickly overwhelmed," Ruden said.
Reported crime in Lincoln remains low, but statistics don't tell the whole story.
Crime reports have gone down, but officers have mostly stopped looking for it. They've switched from an aggressive to a reactive approach.
The number of officer-initiated incidents - traffic stops, patrols for suspicious activity - has fallen by 65 percent, from 16,000 in 2008 to 5,600 in 2012. During the same period, calls for service have increased slightly, city budget documents show.
While Lincoln's crime rate is low compared to most places, the town is part of an urban area, and has many of the same crime problems that afflict most urban areas, including street gangs.
"Absolutely, they've got problems," said Sgt. Jamin Martinez, head of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department gang detail. "There isn't a city in this region that does not have an issue (with gangs)."
Major crimes are infrequent, but the city is not immune. There was one homicide in 2010 and one in 2011 - none since.
Nearly all cities in the Sacramento region had at least twice the number of police officers per capita as Lincoln, according to the latest FBI data, which covers 2011. All 335 California cities tracked by the FBI in California that year had more police officers per capita than Lincoln.
If the city of Sacramento were to adopt Lincoln's per capita police staffing ratios, it would need to cut about 450 - or 65 percent - of its cops.
No city in the Sacramento region with more than five officers has seen a bigger decline in the police force than Lincoln, FBI figures show.
The recent proposal to contract for police services with the Placer County sheriff would have brought Lincoln some benefits, including access to a helicopter, SWAT team, hostage negotiators and K-9 units. But it would have cost an additional $489,261 for the minimum staffing option, $1.8 million for "optimum staffing."
"When you look at the numbers and the type of service provided, it was a very easy decision," said Spencer Short, a Lincoln City councilman.
He said he's looking forward to adding more staff.
"Right now, this is what our community can afford," Short said. "Public safety is our No. 1 concern, so as finances improve we'll increase the number of safety staff."
Call The Bee's Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269. Follow him on Twitter @newsfletch.