City Beat

City Beat: Cops like arena - and the idea of handling game security

The city's powerful police union supports the plan to build a new Kings arena downtown. But this isn't simply an issue of public safety.

Mark Tyndale, the head of the Sacramento Police Officers Association, said his organization has been told city police officers would handle arena security during Kings games should the facility be built.

Since 1999, those duties have fallen to the Sacramento Sheriff's Department in a deal worked out between the team and former Sheriff Lou Blanas. It's an arrangement that has "always been a little bit of a thorn in our side," said Tyndale.

But Tyndale said Mayor Kevin Johnson has assured him city officers would take over security at a new arena.

The current deal has generated thousands of dollars for deputies working extra hours. Those officers are paid what is called "special overtime" to work games - money that comes out of a contract with the team and would not come from the city budget if police officers take control.

Besides the hope of landing that work for his officers, Tyndale said he is "very supportive" of the arena plan, convinced that it would provide an economic boost to downtown and the cash-strapped city budget.

"We believe it is a critical project for the city," he said. "We like the idea of building an arena in the railyard and the sense of the downtown core being an entertainment hub."

Tyndale said his union just needs a bit more assurance that the city general fund will be protected in the financing plan for the $387 million project, given that the police department just went through a round of layoffs last year.