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Auburn Police, commended by Placer County grand jury

Panel critical of Lincoln school district, praises animal shelter, North Auburn jail
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn Police Chief Valerie Harris and staff are doing a commendable job with the operation of the department, the Placer County grand jury said in a report issued Friday. The grand jury’s annual report recognized the department, which has 26 sworn officers, for setting “challenging targets” for an upgrade of communication equipment at its Lincoln Way headquarters and its plans to increase staffing at the dispatch center. “Completion of this effort will enhance the level of service this agency can provide the community,” the report states. Harris said Friday that efforts include attempting to have two dispatchers on at peak call periods. The upgrade will allow all cell phone calls within the local area to come directly to the dispatch center. The California Highway Patrol currently receives those calls, the jury report states. Harris said that the department is hoping that capability will be in place within the next couple of months. The grand jury report also said it supports Harris in an effort to expand the citizen volunteer staff. The volunteer group has about 10 participants and Harris is quoted in the report as stating she wants to increase that number. “Citizen volunteers have proven a valuable resource at other police departments by providing the department additional resources,” the report said. “And it improves the relationship between the department and the community.” The grand jury also toured the Placer County main jail and commended Sheriff Ed Bonner and his staff for “their continuing effort to provide Placer County citizens with a county jail facility run in a highly efficient manner and a low incidence of problems.” While the grand jury made no recommendations in relation to the Auburn Police Department, it made four points regarding the jail. They were: - High release levels due to the federal cap on inmate numbers illustrate the need for a South Placer Jail, now in the planning stages with the county. The jury wants the county to keep jail plans on target for a 2012 opening. - A new barracks needs to be built nearer the main jail “to improve logistics and replace the current outdated jail.” - Cameras with recording devices should be installed throughout the jail for the protection of staff and inmates. - Hallway flooring problems that haven’t been resolved satisfactorily over 13 years should be resolved. On the subject of the county’s North Auburn animal shelter, the grand jury said it found the building “clean, not overcrowded and animals appeared to be well taken care of the day of the tour.” “Employees are doing a very competent job in meeting the county requirements for animals,” the jury concluded, while also recommending a new facility and remodeling of the Auburn shelter. The county is currently moving ahead with planning for a new facility in South Placer County and an upgrade of the North Auburn unit. While Auburn-area city and county facilities were generally given good reviews, the Lincoln area’s Western Placer Unified School District was criticized for making “many errors and misjudgments in facilities construction and financing during the last decade.” “In less than five years, Lincoln citizens, especially parents, went from the euphoria of growth and the promise of new schools to the disillusionment of debt and portable classrooms,” the report states. The grand jury also discussed Auburn sewer service rates, recommending that the city keep “a long term perspective” on wastewater treatment planning while finding that last July’s increase was “justified and properly executed.” The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.