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Auburn City Council backs police in AB 109 fund distribution

Funding plan submitted by District Attorney Scott Owens
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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The City approved the first steps to get its share of a $3.9 million fund to pay for an officer to monitor an influx of parolees, Monday night. The $3.9 million in funding provided by the state to Placer County is for the fiscal year 2012-2013, while $3.1 million was designated for the fiscal year 2011-2012. The county had to come up with a plan about how to divide the money from Assembly Bill 109 between various agencies. With both years combined, the Auburn Police Department is asking for about $600,000 to be split with four other cities in the county, according to Auburn Police Chief John Ruffcorn Of the 400 parolees that currently reside in the Auburn-area, 75 to 100 of those live in the Auburn city limits, according to Ruffcorn. Auburn City Council approved the formation of an ad hoc committee that would promote and support funding for frontline law enforcement with funds from Assembly Bill 109, or the 2011 Public Safety Realignment. The funds are being allocated to Placer County to help the county address the influx of paroles with non-violent, non-serious, non-sexual crimes from state prisons, who were released to help deal with prison overcrowding. The parolees are serving out their probation or jail time under the supervision of the county. Ruffcorn asked the City Council to back a plan proposed by District Attorney Scott Owens and backed by Placer County Sheriff Ed Bonner that would give the first priority of funding to police officers. An officer from each city, including Auburn, Roseville, Rocklin and Lincoln would be designated to assist the Placer County Probation department in monitoring offenders released from state prison. “My colleagues and I support a plan submitted by the District Attorney for one officer from each agency and one deputy from each agency to be part of a task force,” Ruffcorn said. “Unfortunately, Auburn has a proportionally high number of parolees.” He said more prisoners have already been released than were originally projected. “In the DA’s plans all agencies represented get a portion of the funds,” Ruffcorn said. “We’re dealing with the unknown. The numbers the state gave us are already inaccurate. It’s already higher in the past three months.” The police officers funded by AB 109 would be assigned to the Special Investigations Unit, which has already been established. Auburn will not hire a new officer, but assign an existing one to carry out the duties related to parolees, Ruffcorn said. That officer’s original duties will be absorbed by the rest of the department. Council Member Kevin Hanley was initially concerned that a similar plan proposed by Sacramento County pitted law enforcement against county probation. “Looking at the Sacramento sheriff it seems like the sheriff hit against the probation department,” Hanley said. “We’re left with the option of the police officers to closely monitor bad guys versus bad guys being monitored by probation.” Ruffcorn said funds for each agency would receive funds from AB 109, but police officers would have first priority. For the plan to pass, only two of the five Placer County Board of Supervisors members need to vote in favor of the DA’s plan, according to Ruffcorn. City Council appointed Council Member Mike Holmes and Council Member Bridget Powers as its representatives to the ad hoc committee it approved. “I have some connections to the Board of Supervisors,” Holmes said. Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.