The city of Cornelius is carefully and thoroughly evaluating whether to contract for police services with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO). We think it has the potential to be a good deal for the citizens of Cornelius and provide a higher level of services for the same — and likely for less — amount of money.

We will be holding a Town Hall meeting on July 29 at 7 p.m., in the Cornelius City Council chambers at 1310 N.W. Adair Street, where people can express their opinion either for or against the idea.

Like many cities in Oregon, we do not have excess funds, and it has been a struggle to be able to afford even adequate police services. Our police officers have been doing a good job, but we have gaps in service that we haven’t been able to afford to close. Currently, we have 12 sworn police officers, counting the police chief. When people are injured, sick, on vacation or in training classes we don’t have adequate coverage to have a police officer on the street at all times. Up to a quarter of a police officer’s daily time is spent doing something other than patrol. This creates serious gaps in service and coverage. We believe a contract with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office is likely to fill in the gaps and provide a higher level of coverage and service. In addition, with the WCSO’s size and “deep bench” of sworn officers, there are multiple services that can be provided that a small city is not capable of providing.

We are still in the exploration stages, and meaningful and detailed discussions continue with the WCSO and Washington County representatives. In addition, Sheriff Pat Garrett has personally met with the Cornelius Police Department’s officers to answer their questions and ensure that he fully understands their concerns.

If we were to contract with the WCSO, our officers would become WCSO employees. Any such final agreement would ensure that permanently assigned officers maintain Cornelius Police Department vehicles and uniforms. Our officers would be guaranteed that, by state law, they would not lose pay or seniority.

An advantage to contracting for our current officers includes more annual training hours, and they could bid for specialty teams, unique assignments, and have a much better opportunity for professional advancement within a larger organization.

At the very least, this discussion is helping to better evaluate our own organization’s strengths and weaknesses, creating a much better cooperative effort with the WCSO, and providing us with a better understanding of our current and future needs for law enforcement in Cornelius.

Jef Dalin is mayor of Cornelius.

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