Staffing problems have forced the Roseville Police Department to suspend a unit that focuses on gang violence, two months after the city launched an intense manhunt of a gangster who allegedly shot two law enforcement officers.
The three officers and a sergeant in Roseville’s crime suppression unit were temporarily reassigned this month to regular patrol duty because the entire force is “extremely short-staffed,” Roseville Police Chief Daniel Hahn said Wednesday.
“Sickness and injuries, coupled with several vacant positions, have provided the perfect storm,” he said.
The latest development comes after Sureños gangster Sammy Duran engaged in a shootout and standoff with law enforcement Oct. 25 in Roseville’s Theiles Manor neighborhood. Roseville police and six other law enforcement agencies followed up with a gang suppression sweep Nov. 20 that landed more than a dozen associates of Duran behind bars.
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Despite the setback, Hahn insisted the department is still laser-focused on gangs.
“It’s going to be a short-term deal,” he said, adding the department plans to reactivate the task force in the next several months. “We don’t want gangs to ever get a strong foothold in Roseville. It’s not ideal, but you got to get the job done with what you have.”
The Police Department, along with other city agencies, is still recovering from the lean years of the Great Recession, which saw numerous staffing cuts through layoffs and attrition. The city currently has 121 officers serving 125,000 residents, with another three officers in the process of being trained. At its height in January 2007, Roseville boasted as many as 137 sworn officers, according to police spokeswoman Dee Dee Gunther.
By comparison, the Elk Grove Police Department currently has 127.5 officers on board, though the agency is authorized for 130.5 positions, Chief Robert Lehner said. Elk Grove has a population of 159,000.
Mayor Susan Rohan backed the move, noting that the City Council has a “great deal of confidence” in the chief’s leadership.
“When he makes a call and says this is what needs to be done, we believe him,” Rohan said.
Driven mainly by a sharp increase in robberies, Roseville experienced a nearly 20 percent increase in violent crime in 2012, according to FBI statistics. Nearly 300 violent crimes were reported in 2012, up from 248 in 2011.
The City Council voted 4-0 earlier this month to approve a new memorandum of understanding with the Roseville Police Officers Association that would give officers separate 1.5 percent raises in July and January 2015. Councilwoman Bonnie Gore was not in attendance.
The police union and the city had quarreled for months about compensation, with the main disagreement being over who pays the employee share of pension contributions. Officers have been paying the full employee share, which amounts to 9 percent of salary, and the union wanted the city to pick up that tab.
Under the new contract, officers will continue to pay that 9 percent but receive the two raises, city spokesman Brian Jacobson said.
Roseville police officers are among the best paid in the state, with officers in the top salary range taking home about $9,500 a month in gross compensation, including benefits, compared with $9,090 in Davis and $8,777 in Sacramento, according to a study commissioned by the city of Roseville last May.