MONTEREY, Calif. - The Monterey County Civil Grand Jury has wrapped up a report looking at the Monterey Police Department’s operations and facilities.
It originally planned to inquire into the jails, prisons and places of incarceration throughout the county. However, one conversation led to another and eventually the report changed focus to look at safety concerns and staffing.
Police Chief Dave Hober took KION on a "behind the scenes" tour of the building, which was originally opened in 1962 for a police force of about 30. Today, there are 53 sworn officers and 19 professional positions.
Like other law enforcement agencies, Monterey Police has a staffing shortage. The jury found the department needs another 12 officers to get to the state standard of 2.32 officers per 1,000 residents.
"Police officers are very expensive,” Hober said. “The city council has added two officers last fiscal year, and I think there's some consideration for the future and that helps us as well because we're always about 10-20 percent down in what I call our "street ready" officer and that is because when we're in the process of trying to hire, we are never fully up to where we need to be."
There’s a small holding facility where up to ten people can stay for up to 72 hours. Hober said it saves time from having to bring people to the main jail in Salinas.
“We're 40 minutes from Salinas, or an hour or more if there's traffic,” Hober said. “It's very beneficial for us to have a jail facility because then we can hold people here for less than the 72 hours, which then means I have those limited police officers that are not spending the two hours traveling back and forth to Salinas. They're actually here serving the community in Monterey so it's a great help to us to have our own city jail."
The report also addressed some concerns with the actual police department building. The jury found the facility was clean and well-maintained, noting staff had worked to rehab and maintain the facility through staff projects which were performed on their own time.
However it noted the locker rooms were inadequate to meet the need of the officers, saying the passageway between the rows of lockers were barely wide enough for an officer to pass through.
It also voiced concerns of the absence of a “sally port,” which is described as a “secure area where arrestees can be safely transferred from police cars to the booking area and temporary holding cells.”
The report recommended securing the parking lot area with a chain link fence with razor wire, as well as an electronically controlled gate, to make sure patrol cars and officers’ personal cars were safe.
PD has tried to mitigate the public from roaming around by adding signage and restricting parking.
The grand jury recommended a new public safety facility for the police department, but also admitted that funding is a major factor.
“The city council has to figure out what's best for the city to serve the citizens, so, while all that stuff is great and the police department certainly appreciates having more police officers or a new public safety building, at the same time it's understandable that we need to do other things like for the fire department, for the library, for the streets and all of those kinds of things," Hober said.