Officers fight city proposal to dissolve department

OPOA: 'Our history and integrity are not for sale'

Officers fight city proposal to dissolve department

OROVILLE, Calif. - Oroville police are fighting for their jobs. Officers discovered Tuesday's city council agenda item that looks to dissolve the department, according to members of the Oroville Police Officers Association.

The pending proposal being discussed would have the Butte County Sheriff's Office and CAL FIRE contracted with serving the city in place of the current police and fire departments.

Roughly 20 to 30 people would be affected by the change and their jobs likely terminated, including sworn police officers, firefighters, dispatchers, and support staff.

The agenda item states the council is exploring the option to lower cost, saying that Oroville Police and Fire cannot cover the city's needs based on the current fiscal status.

Oroville Police Officers Association President Jared Cooley said the change would only make things worse for the people of Oroville.

"I don't believe that it would give the citizens what they need for us to be absorbed by the sheriff's department. You'd be looking at longer response times in some cases. Not to mention the sheriff's department themselves are down a lot of positions - they're currently hiring," Cooley said.

Detective Cooley believes the police chief, city administrator, and city council are trying to slide this through so the public does not get their chance to speak.

"You'd be adding on the city of Oroville itself which has arguably the most calls for service out of all the cities in the county," he said.

Cooley thinks the police department chief, who is also the fire department chief, would likely be absorbed into a new department position should the change happen.

According to the association, contact with Chief Bill LaGrone has been limited regarding this matter. LaGrone put out a memo to the officers, part of which addresses the agenda items and talks about the likely time frame being 18 to 24 months for a change to happen.

The memo also states, "this is nothing more than [the city council] asking for a price at this time."

The Oroville City Council will address the proposal during Tuesday's city council meeting open session starting at 6:00 p.m. at Oroville City Hall.

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