RIGGINS At the April city council meeting in Riggins, Sheriff Doug Giddings informed its members Idaho County Sheriff’s Office (ICSO) would not renew its contract for law enforcement. Negotiations over the contract have been an issue for at least the past couple years. However, the recent announcement gives the city three months to find a resolution.
According to state law, the county is required to answer calls for service, which Giddings said he would comply. However, it is not required to enforce city code. If under contract, it is not required to have a resident deputy in the community.
City clerk Brenda Tilley said the council was advised at the April meeting to hire its own code enforcement officer.
This isn’t a new revelation for the city council. This topic came up previously at the September 2016 council meeting.
At that time, council member Gary Miller inquired about the City of Cottonwood’s contract. According to the minutes, Giddings stated the city is charged $35 per hour when the police chief is unavailable for calls and it also pays for dispatching.
Cottonwood Chief of Police Terry Cochran said Monday, May 1, he is billed annually for dispatch calls ICSO receives for Cottonwood. He then splits the cost between police, fire department and emergency medical services budgets.
The council also heard Giddings concerns about coverage and pay at the September meeting. The minutes read, “Giddings stated [the resident deputy] is not covering any other areas of the county for the sheriff’s department, yet the department is obligated to cover the Riggins area when the resident deputy is off duty, resulting in overtime pay.”
Giddings also informed the council the overtime pay system changed from $3 per hour to $24 per hour.
Prior to that, minutes going back to June of 2015 show concerns were raised each year with the contract.
At a June 13, 2016, meeting, council members reviewed dispatch call data and discussed the costs of a city police department before approving the contract. This followed two months of discussion between Giddings and the city. The following was recorded in the minutes of the June 8, 2016, council meeting.
“Sheriff Doug Giddings presented a report for May showing 18 calls and 10 citations in the city, and 81 calls with 18 citations in the area. Sheriff Giddings also reviewed the department overtime policy of paying time and a half up to 10 hours. He also stated there have been $36,000 in contract cuts to his department, and that the amount of money the City of Riggins pays in the contract makes no difference when it comes to coverage in Riggins.”
The 2015 contract was approved after Giddings again expressed concerns with cost of providing deputies to cover the area and the call log not justifying the expense. The minutes read, “He estimated the salary for two deputies would be $100,000 per year. Sheriff Giddings cited the City of Cottonwood having their own Police Department and recommended the City of Riggins consider this in the future. With the current contract at $15,000 per year, the City of Riggins is paying less than half of one deputy’s salary alone, not including fuel, benefits, etc.”
Riggins offered at that time to increase the contractual payment to $17,500 from $15,000. Giddings noted while he was appreciative of the increased offer, he still could not dedicate one patrol officer to Riggins at that cost.
According to the Idaho Department of Labor, the average salary of a police officer is $35,480. Entry wage is listed as $27,490 and both statistics are based on survey information provided in May 2015.
But salary wouldn’t be the only expense incurred by Riggins should they opt to invest in a police department. Cochran said a vehicle and equipment, such as light bars and radios, also would be required. Other expenses could be incurred as well.
Kooskia also is under contract with ICSO for law enforcement coverage. City clerk Teresa Lytle said the city pays $25,000 to ICSO and that relationship was established prior to her arrival on staff in 1998.
Sheriff’s deputies may use an unmanned office in the upstairs portion of the city building through the contract, she said. An officer is not stationed in Kooskia, Lytle said, and the deputy on call is sent whenever dispatch is notified.
The Riggins council is scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. MST May 10. While the agenda has not yet been posted, it is anticipated this will appear on the agenda.