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  • Writer's pictureCRAIKER

Napa City Police Chief Jennifer Gonzales answers some questions from the Architex Angle

Should the next future jail be integrated into the future City Hall?

  • The needs and location of a future City Hall would be led by the City Manager at the direction of the City Council. As to it’s location adjacent to the NCDC jail, that decision would need to be made in partnership with Napa County, as the City Hall would be a City of Napa jurisdiction and the NCDC jail would be the Napa County jurisdiction (two separate government agencies with different designated decision makers – City Council for City of Napa and County Board of Supervisors for Napa County). Lastly, a City Hall location could be adjacent to the Police Department, such as a Civic Center, or separate and placed at a significant distance.

Should it be downtown?

  • Downtown is nice to have but not required. I cannot tell by your question if you are referring to a new Police Department, a City Hall, or a co-located City/County facility. At one point, we, as a city, considered various downtown and non-downtown locations for a new Civic Center/Police Department. The prior City Council preferred a downtown location and the currently owned City property was our focus. As for a standalone Police Department location, it would be nice to have near other city services from a customer service standpoint but is not a functional requirement. So, if the City decided to place the Police Department in a different location within the City, we would be fine being off-site from our City Hall.

With todays high tech communications, should we decentralize the police dept. by relocating stations around the city?

  • The ease of communication is the main reason why the Police Department could easily be in a different location from City Hall without causing too many headaches for our community members. Many of our City services are available online/remotely to our community now, to include our City of Napa Service Center where community members can report problems near their homes, work, or on our roadways. We also have digitally available communications options (email,  Microsoft TEAMS meetings, etc.) that allow us to attend meetings without having to travel to on-site locations.

  • As for decentralizing the Police Department into substations, I do not know if we are a large enough agency to demonstrate the need for multiple Police Department locations. This would merely double our initial and ongoing costs which would be unnecessary.  Our City is currently divided into four Police beats. This beat allows us to assign staff to spread out the workload on Patrol. The beat designation was reviewed this summer by our staff using the latest calls for service to ensure we were providing the best response possible with our current staffing. As our City continues to develop (such as the development of the Napa Pipe area) we will re-evaluate the beat structure against our calls for service date to ensure we dedicate staffing to each area as calls for service demand.

  • Additionally, over time we have taken advantage of technological advancements and moved to a mostly paperless records system. Some items still require pen to paper but most of our reports and citations are paperless. This helped with our space needs (see question number 4 for more information). Our Officers now have the ability to write their reports in the cars, via a remote access secure system, or at the Police Department. They also have the ability to dictate report narratives while in the field to reduce time spent at the station. This year we transitioned to a digital citation system where officers can type/scan data and print the citation in the field using remote printers and cellular phones.

  • Lastly, we have community needs to obtain data from the Police Department. Depending on the individual’s needs, we may have to hand them a physical copy of a document after confirming their identity and fees, or we can upload the information and remotely send the data via an email or other internet based system. It depends on what information they are obtaining. Some of the data would need to be redacted to prevent the release of privately identifying information. Depending on the media format, such as body camera video, this could take significant time which would make waiting in the lobby futile. Again, laws and policies limit or dictate what can and will be made public when it comes to Police records. We also have a City system for public records requests for those requesting data under the California Public Records Act, the requests would be made digitally via the City of Napa Public Requests Center.

Don't you need a lot of storage and vehicle storage? How much?

  • Storage is a fun topic (I am kidding). When we did the last assessment, storage was a topic of many lengthy discussions. In California, we have laws that dictate the length of time we retain evidence for criminal cases and this could be up to 99-years depending on the type of crime. For example, let’s say the case was a homicide investigation and it included a large piece of property, such as a car or garage door. We would be expected to retain that item for up to 99- years depending on the case. After several years of evidence collection, our space needs increase, especially if the laws do not permit the disposal of property. In addition to CA laws, City of Napa policy provides additional retention expectations for documents and other city obtained property or data. This would include our Police reports and other Government generated files and documents. Weapons and hazardous materials have their own storage in compliance with best practices. Then, there is the digital storage. This, as you know, is a relatively newer concept as technology has developed over the last few decades. Long gone are the days of 35mm film and manual cameras for collecting photographic evidence. Now, we have gigabytes and terabytes of digital evidence in the forms of photos, body cameras, email, cell phone, and computer data. All of the retention periods vary but the storage needs are dependent upon if the information is stored in a physical drive or in the cloud on remote storage servers. See how this can be fun? Now, we take all of the current information on physical and digital storage needs and try to predict what our future holds. As you know, we do not have the 1980s room-sized mainframes for our computer/communication systems any longer but we still have some on-site physical computer system storage needs. We also have generators or back up power supply needs to help support the advanced technology during critical power failures, as we cannot lock the door and go home when the power cuts out. And we cannot forget our own storage needs. Our staff have equipment assigned to them so each need space to retain documents, files, and their assigned Police gear, such as a mailbox and locker room. As our community grows and our staffing increases to meet the needs, we will need more facility space to accommodate the increased staffing changes. So, the long and short is I cannot easily answer your “how much” storage we will need but I can say when the time comes to secure a new Police Department, all of these forms of storage will need to be considered with an educated guess to incorporate future needs.

What else?

  • Hopefully the information listed above was helpful. If you have additional questions about Police specific needs I can continue to be your point of contact. For other City level needs, please connect with those listed above to help expedite answers to your questions.

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