A week later, Stallings council criticized for taking discussion off the table
One week after the Stallings town council voted to end discussion of outsourcing public safety services, residents are still trying to determine what the motion actually meant.
Councilman Reed Esarove’s motion, which was adopted 4-2, called for discussions using the sheriff’s office to cease and desist, both now and in the future. Without a clear reference explaining if that meant the finance committee or the town council in general, different people are interpreting it different ways.
“At the end of the day, there’s a process government should take and that doesn’t include removing discussion or eliminating someone’s free speech,” Stallings resident Bob Hord, who lives in the Emerald Lake subdivision, said. Hord, a member of the town’s finance committee, said he heard the motion was to stop the mayor and other town council members from talking about the idea.
“There’s a sad irony in all of this,” Hord said. “The same group using rights granted by the first amendment in order to speak their opinion, is now trying to remove that same freedom from others.”
He added however that if the motion was clarified to only include the finance committee, he would retract his statements, as the finance committee serves at the pleasure of the town council.
Other residents, like Lisa Schoenberger from Shannamara, are more concerned that a decision was made before any of the committees had a chance to present a report.
“I would have liked to see them have all the facts before a decision was made,” Schoenberger said. “Just see what they are. But now that it’s done, let’s move forward with the citizen survey and hopefully come up with some good options.”
On a yearly basis, the police department takes up between 38 to 40 percent of the Stallings budget. In August, the town agreed to look at public safety services, preparing a survey to collect data on what the just under 14,000 residents want. Prior to that document going out, the public safety and finance committees were expected to weigh in, adding questions for the council’s approval to the survey, as well as presenting reports. But as the weeks went by, police department supporters grew concerned over emails between council members, a meeting between council members and the sheriff and talk of considering contracting for deputies as an option.
“I think the intent of the motion was to limit the free flow of information and to restrict citizens’ right to free speech, most particularly the mayor,” Stallings Mayor Lynda Paxton said. “I expect there will be backlash from the community for an attempt to stop the flow of information and for making a decision with huge financial implications without complete information, particularly when members knew that some critical info from Sheriff Cathey was just two or three days away.”
That information from the sheriff included the answers to 32 questions submitted to him by the town’s finance committee, detailing things like cost of contracting for deputies, housing them and also things like how much control Stallings would have over those deputies. In the wake of those responses, which came out Saturday, Oct. 16, the mayor sent the document out to her mailing list, advocating in an Oct. 16 e-mail that residents convince council members to change their minds.
“Citizens are encouraged to read carefully and demand that the council rescind its decision of Oct. 11 and continue to evaluate options for provision of quality police services in the most fiscally responsible manner,” Paxton wrote.
Motions, meanings and legalities
Because of the motion’s wording, the mayor questions how it even applies to the council.
“Outsourcing has never been on the council’s agenda, which makes the maneuvering that went on at the last meeting rather puzzling,” Paxton said. “How do you cease and desist something that has never started?”
Councilman Reed Esarove, who made the motion, said it was intended to instruct the finance committee to eliminate outsourcing as an option for discussions on the five year capital plan.
“The motion I made had nothing to do with evaluating levels of service, we still need to have those discussions,” Esarove said. “There are several discussions we still need to have with people, to find out what they want. That wasn’t happening. Outsourcing was and is the only thing being talked about.”
Esarove admitted his motion wasn’t exactly clear, but didn’t see how anyone could frame it as an attack on free speech.
“How did I take away anybody’s rights with that?” Esarove asked. “I don’t mind differing opinions and I think we should have discussions, [but] why does that need to include outsourcing, when the people said they didn’t want it?”
A ‘Support the Stallings Police’ group presented council with a petition containing the signatures of 1,130 residents and 219 non-residents Oct. 11. To put that in perspective, 1752 of the town’s nearly 14,000 residents voted in the Nov. 2009 election.
Hord and others who didn’t sign the petition point out that they’re not looking to disband the police department, they just want more information before making a decision. With that in mind, how, they ask, can the town use the word of less than 10 percent of the total population, when making a decision?
Residents also question the terminology used in the motion, “now and in the future”, asking what limits council members have on establishing when an issue can or cannot be addressed.
“They can do something like that, but the question is how far in the future?” University of North Carolina School of Government legal expert Fleming Bell said. “I don’t think you can have it extend forever, but it is within their power to just say this is something we don’t want to take up for this council. It’s not something I usually see.”
The problem for opponents of the measure, Bell said, is that according to Roberts Rules of Order, the motion can only be brought up again by someone who voted in the majority. That means either Esarove, Harry Stokes, Renee Hartis or Thelma Privette would have to bring it up again for any possible change. The next town council meeting is Oct. 25, but as of press time, the issue was not on the agenda.
Below is the entire response from the sheriff:
September 28, 2010
This list of questions was created for the Union County Sheriff to help the public understand any
advantages and/or disadvantages to contracting with Union County for police service. Sheriff
Cathey will send written responses to each of these questions as soon as he is able. The list of
questions was developed with feedback from multiple sources within the Town of Stallings.
1. How many officers would you recommend for Stallings based on call volume and workload
(i.e., calls for service)?
16 to include (1) Lt (2) Sgts (12) patrol deputies, and (1) detective.
2. If Stallings were to contract with the Sheriffs Department, how would coverage
work, and how would it differ from coverage currently being provided by
No difference. Times should stay the same or decrease due to the zone cars answering some
calls if they are near.
3. Response time is of concern to many residents in Stallings. Please provide response times by
your Department in Indian Trail and elsewhere in Union County where a similar contract
arrangement exists. Would your response times in Stallings be similar to Indian Trail and other
places where a contract arrangement exists?
Comparing the average response times of other towns is not always an accurate means of
judging the value of the service provided. Several factors should also be considered when
comparing response times (some examples are geographic size of the areas, staff levels, call
volume, time spent on scenes). With that understanding, see the attached chart.
4. Please describe how the Indian Trail arrangement is going. What is working well? What is
not? What would you do differently if a similar arrangement were made
with Stallings? Please provide reference(s) in Indian Trail about the services being
Over the past Indian Trail’s arrangement is constantly evolving to suit the needs and
desires of their citizens and council. The Sheriffs Office and Indian Trail worked together
to establish a satellite office in 2009, where deputies can complete most job functions and
residents can meet with deputies. This has provided work space for not only contracted
deputies, but also detectives and other Sheriffs employees. Having a satellite office in
Indian Trail allows deputies to stay in their assigned work area more often, since most
tasks can be completed there. To aid
Indian Trail and the Sheriffs Office in planning, the parties signed a 5 year contract. The
Sheriffs Office worked closely with the town’s Public Safety Committee to establish a level
of service and staffing recommendation to the council as a guide for future expansion of the
program for the next several years. Indian Trail has taken more of a proactive interest in
their law enforcement program. Response times have decreased and proactive patrols have
increased with the addition of more manpower. Establishing supervisory positions in
Indian Trail created more of a structured bureau, and helped form better communication
between the town government and the Sheriffs Office. Indian Trail has surveyed their
community and commissioned a study by UNC Charlotte of its law enforcement needs. The
Sheriffs Office has been working; with Indian Trail in developing an interactive survey
where residents will be continuously polled on law enforcement topics and have an
opportunity to evaluate the services provided.
In future contract agreements for service, it is the goal of the Sheriffs Office to establish the
desire of the contracting community early on so that recommendations can be made for not
only staffing, but also other things such as satellite work areas, equipment, and other long
Indian Trail’s council, mayor, past public safety committee members, citizens, and town
manager could all be contacted for their opinions on their contract arrangement.
5. How many Indian Trail calls for service have been answered by deputies from outside of
Indian Trail in the last 3 years?
Not available. The current CAD system used will only report the primary deputy assigned
to a call. Secondary or “backup” deputy responses are not readily available.
6. How many calls for service have been answered by Indian Trail contracted deputies that are
outside of Indian Trail for the past 3 years?
Not Available. See the answer to #5. Deputies are assigned to patrol in their respective
zones unless an urgent need develops elsewhere. When deputies are moved outside of
Indian Trail for an emergency, that situation is most often quickly resolved, and patrols
resume in Indian Trail, not unlike most law enforcement mutual aid request -only no
mutual aid is needed because the deputies have county authority,
7. The Sheriff has not provided wreck management of traffic in the past. What assurances do we
have that your Department will perform these services to the level Stallings currently has, and
that this level of service will continue to be offered?
In the past two years, the Sheriff has explored ways to begin working vehicle collisions in
municipalities that are currently served by contract arrangements. Most of the deputies
assigned to work in the Indian Trail contract have experience investigating motor vehicle
crashes. To begin investigating crashes would require updating training, purchasing
computer software for reporting, and ensuring that manpower levels are adequate to
provide the same level of service currently provided. Stallings has the training and the
software in place so it would not be an issue to continue with the collision investigations.
8. Would the Sheriffs Department use our vehicles as they are currently marked, or would they
be re-marked to be identified as Sheriffs Department? If they were re- marked as Sheriffs
Department vehicles, would they be marked as vehicles dedicated to Stallings?
All vehicles used by UCSO deputies are marked with the same graphics scheme. Vehicles
assigned to contract positions are marked on the side with that particular town’s seal, and
some also display their town’s website on the rear bumper.
9. Please confirm that if the Town contracts with the Sheriffs Department, we will be contracting
for specific deputies and not just a slot. That is, when Deputy Smith is on vacation, in court or
out sick the Sheriffs Department will send another deputy to fill in for that absent deputy at no
This is not the case with the current policing arrangement for Stallings and will not be the
case with a contract arrangement. However, if Stallings chooses to contract with UCSO for
law enforcement services, the arrangement will allow for filling of a vacancy when a long
term absence occurs. In circumstances where a manpower shortage exists, deputies are
readily available to be positioned in or near Stallings for response to service calls. For
absences that are , manpower can be shifted or adjusted accordingly from the zones or
elsewhere to ensure service is not interrupted. Past situations in contract positions that can
be used as example of the service provided are staffing a “replacement” deputy when a
contract deputy is injured and unable to work for an extended period of time, or when a
long term absence is expected (, military deployment, training, etc) Currently, when
Stallings police officers are in court, on military leave, or on vacation, the town does not
have additional manpower.
10. To the best of your knowledge, please compare and contrast services that would be provided
by the Sheriffs Department to those currently offered by Stallings PD. This includes community
development programs, vacation checks, etc.
The level of service will stay the same. The Union County Sheriffs Office has the ability to
provide service to Stallings at or above the current level provided by the town. Service
desires should be identified by the town and conveyed to the Sheriff. We bare always
looking to improve.
11. Are you willing and able to cover the Mecklenburg portion of Stallings? If so, please
describe the intergovernmental agreement(s) necessary to do so and the cost of operating under
such agreement. In your opinion, is such an agreement likely to be made?
Yes, I will send this answer on a separate email due to the length.
12. Would the Sheriff s Department occupy the current space utilized by the Stallings? How
much would be needed.
Sheriff’s Office to occupy some of the current space so officers assigned to the town would
have a space to work. The amount of space needed would be based on the level of officer
service requested by the town. At this time the facility utilized by the Indian Trail contract
officers is approximately 2400 square and houses (1) Lieutenant, (2) Sergeants, 15 patrol
officers, (4) Investigators, (1) code officer (town employee) and (2) part-time administrative
positions. Zone officers also utilize office space for report writing, meeting with citizens,
etc. Determination will need to be made if the office will be open during the day shift and
how to staff it. I think it needs to be open.
13. Do you see any synergies and advantages to the citizens of Stallings by having the Sheriffs
Department provide primary police services, given that you are already operating in Indian Trail?
If so, please elaborate.
I think you will see the answer through this document.
14. Please describe a recommended transition and communication plan should Stallings
outsource police services to the Sheriffs Department. Would there be any specific requirements
to address fact that GHSP grant funding was used for officers or equipment?
The first step would be for the Town of Stallings to investigate potential policing options,
and decide on any changes. If the town chooses to contract for service from UCSO, then the
community “buy-in” and support should be established early on. The success of any
change to be made will be impacted greatly depending on the community’s desire and
support of it. The town council and staff would be responsible for conveying to its citizenry
the benefit of whichever law enforcement program it chooses.
Secondly, the town should establish a level of service that it desires. The Sheriff could then
determine a staffing plan, and a time-line to hire personnel and acquire equipment to fulfill
the contract. Any equipment that it currently being funded by GHSP would have to be
looked at individually to determine if it could be utilized by UCSO and the cost at which it
would come out of GHSP care and control and placed into the UCSO equipment fleet. If
any equipment were not deemed as needed by UCSO, Stallings could sell those items. The
contracts between GHSP and the Town of Stallings would need to be examined to
determine what could be used by UCSO and what if anything would have to be returned to
GHSP. Most, if not all, of the GHSP agreements and contracts with Stallings have been
How would the Sheriffs Department deal with the evidence currently maintained by the Stallings
Transfer and house it at the main office.
16. Please provide any additional insights or comments that the Town might wish to consider.
13. If Stallings were to contract with the Sheriff’s Department, what involvement
would the Town have in decisions about law enforcement services? For example, if we wish to
have deputies work different shifts or we want them to work town events, would we have the
ability to direct those areas?
The town can certainly request different type of shifts or certain
work hours, but the Sheriff would have the decision making authority. If the town’s
request was reasonable and would not hamper the effectiveness of the program, UCSO
would do what was necessary to ensure the town’s needs were met. Deployment of
resources would be done in a manner that meet the .goals set forth by both the town and
Sheriff. Event staffing could be done either through the contracted deputies or through our
off-duty program, depending on the duration and type of event. For example, UCSO
deputies assigned to Indian Trail have annually provided traffic control and led the town’s
4th of July and Christmas Parades, as well as provided security and traffic control
for it’s Family Fun Day and Arbor Day events.
14. Can the Town direct the type of patrols in Stallings? If we wish them to work more like a
community police and have them split up and work specific neighborhoods, will we have that
As mentioned in question #1 of this section, the goals and objectives of the
contract law enforcement services would be set by the town and Sheriff. The operational
means of meeting those goals would be the responsibility of the Sheriff and his designees.
The town may influence the Sheriff in some aspects, but the Sheriff remains responsible for
the law enforcement service, The Police Chief currently answers to the Manager. What
level of accountability would the contract deputies have to the Manager? The Town
Manager would have direct contact with the Sheriff, Chief, Captain, and supervisors
working in Stallings. The success of the law enforcement contract would depend greatly on
the Town Manger being able to communicate effectively his desires and goals to UCSO,
and allow the Sheriff or his designee to work on achieving the goals. If a problem were to
present itself to the Town Manager, then he/she would have direct access to the Sheriff to
be able to remedy the issue.
15. What input, control and authority would the Town have concerning complaints against
contract deputies and/or quality of service in Stallings? How are complaints about deputies
and/or services currently handled in Indian Trail? —
The UCSO has an Professional Standards Section (internal affairs) that investigates
complaints and provides details to the Sheriff of allegations of misconduct or policy
violations. Complaints may also be handled through the particular bureau supervisor. The
contracting towns may file a complaint with the Sheriff or his designee over an employee,
but has no direct involvement in the investigation or any disciplinary action(s) as a result of
a complaint. We have the ability and the positions that will allow us to move an officer
from a contract town if he is not a good fit. We have always been able to work through
problems with the towns.
16. If the sheriffs Department were to provide police services in Stalling~, please
describe some best practices to ensure that Stallings and the Sheriffs Department
will communicate effectively. As described in answer #3 of this section,
COST AND PERSONNEL QUESTIONS
What would be the cost per officer and overall cost to Stallings based on a similar number of
patrol officers currently in place in Stallings? What would be the cost per officer and overall
cost to Stallings based on a similar number of patrol officers currently in place in Stallings?
The current contract cost for an officer(s) is as follows;
Deputy: 100% cost – $80,225, 90% cost – $72,203, 10% cost –$ 8,022
100% cost – $97,780, 90% cost – $88,002, 10% cost – $9,778
100% cost – $107,388, 90% cost – $96,650, 10% cost – $10,738
Actual officer cost will be determined by the number and type of officers requested in the
Please provide a breakdown of costs for patrol in the Towns where you have contract deputies
versus the costs to patrol in unincorporated Union County/other.
The additional costs are those of the contract for enhanced law enforcement coverage in the
town. The cost to patrol in unincorporated parts of Union County involves many variables
that include but are not limited to; officer salary, equipment costs, maintenance costs, the
cost of other officers that are deployed at any given time such as civil, drug officers,
criminal investigators, plus insurance, hiring cost, etc. If factoring in all the ancillary
cost associated with performing law enforcement functions, the actual cost is extremely
difficult to determine.
The Town has a significant investment in vehicles and equipment. What will the Sheriff’s
Department pay for that equipment?
Vehicles and equipment would be absorbed by the county and used to “Front” the equipment
necessary to create the startup contract. Yearly operating cost, some which are amortized over a
four year period will continue funding the contract positions on an annual basis. The Sheriff’s
Office and the county will work with the town to identify current equipment on hand and
determine how this can best be utilized to possibly offset the initial cost of transitioning into an
Would the Town or the Sheriff’s Department pay for vehicle accident coverage for patrol cars
used in the Town?
Since the vehicles will become the property of the county and pursuant to funding allotted
in the contract for vehicle maintenance, etc. all operating costs, including insurance
coverage will be the responsibility of the county.
What has been the annual percentage increase in the cost for contract deputies in other towns
within Union County for the past 5 years? Would any prices be guaranteed to the Town of
Stallings? If so, for what period of time?
The is no hard percentage of increase for the contract towns over the past five years since
these costs are calculated annually by county finance and are based on factors such as
changes in the cost of insurance, salary and other benefits, equipment and other cost that
change year to year. The most recent increase was due primarily with how the county
reports OPEB that is paid to the state. Again, contract pricing is calculated annually by the
county finance department and communicated to the towns by a specific date pursuant to
the terms of the contract. The 90% cost in 2006 was $59,859 and is currently at $72,203.
What assurance can the Sheriff provide that Stallings officers will be hired to fill contract deputy
spots if the Town does contract with the Sheriff’s Department?
None. Officers are appointed by the Sheriff of Union County and must meet standards
required by the NC Sheriff’s Education and Training Standards Commission in order to be
certified as a deputy Sheriff. Since employees work at the pleasure of the Sheriff they will
be required to apply as any other potential employee does. Our agency will work to create
a transition that is smooth and will make every effort possible to re-employee as many
current Stallings Police officers as possible pursuant to terms agreed upon in a contract
regarding the number of personnel needed.
If an arrangement were made between Stallings and the Sheriff’s Department, it is our
understanding that these officers would be contract employees of the county. If this is correct,
how would the officers’ benefits (insurance, retirement, etc) compare with regular county
employees? How would these officers’ salaries compare with their current salaries as Stallings
Insurance, retirement, etc. are provided by the county and are the same for all county
employees. Officers are employees of the county because all employee positions are funded
by the Board of County Commissioners. As for how the salaries would compare with the
current salaries of the Stallings officers depends on several factors. These include but are
not limited to years of service as a law enforcement officer, level of certification held and
position. Actual salary will be determined at the time a candidate has been given a
conditional offer of employment.
Please describe any potential opportunities for advancement available to Stallings PD officers,
should they become Sheriff’s Department employees.
Officers would be provided the same opportunities for advancement as any other officer
currently employed by the Sheriff. Our agency conducts promotional assessments from
time to time and the process is open to all that meet the requirements as determined by the
Sheriff. Again, any officers hired from the Stallings Police Department will be treated the
same as any other deputy currently employed with our agency.
Would there be any way to integrate the non-patrol positions currently in the Stallings PD
(detectives, clerical) into county positions?
Yes, any position can be included in a contract between the county and the town. Pricing
for these positions would need to be determined and would be provided once a level of
enhanced service was agreed upon by all parties.
Please provide any additional insights or comments that the Town might wish to consider UCSO
covers many hours of staff time normally used by local governments with their own PD’s.
Some examples of things that must be done on a continuous basis that are not always
considered, but have a great impact on time spent by town staff are:
“Equipment purchasing procurement
*Human Resources needs
*I.T. specialist to maintain computer systems in the office and patrol cars.
*Replacement vehicles or equipment when needed.
CONTROL AND ACCOUNTABILITY QUESTIONS
1. If Stallings were to contract with the Sheriff’s Department, what involvement would the Town
have in decisions about law enforcement services? For example, if we wish to have deputies
work different shifts or we want them to work town events, would we have the ability to direct
The town certainly can request a change work hours, but the sheriff has the responsibility
to meet the needs of the entire town.
The manager would have access to UCSO supervisors in place in Stallings, and would
determine the frequency of informational reports provided to the Council and Mayor.
Indian Trail’s manager has an open line of communication-with-their contract supervisor
2.Can the Town direct the type of patrols in Stallings? If we wish them to work more like a
community police and have them split up and work specific neighborhoods, will we have that
They will have no authority to change shifts, but I will try to work with the council and if
there is justification for the change request it will happen. Keep in mind the overall goal is
public safety if a change will improve that then I will be all for it.
3. The Police Chief currently answers to the Manager. What level of accountability would the
contract deputies have to the Manager?
None, we will try to work with his requests, but the all answer to the sheriff.
4. What input, control and authority would the Town have concerning complaints against
contract deputies and/or quality of service in Stallings? How are complaints about deputies
and/or services currently handled in Indian Trail?
They are all investigated by Professional Standards and the approximate disciplinary
5. If the Sheriff’s Department were to provide police services in Stallings, please describe some
best practices to ensure that Stallings and the Sheriff’s Department will communicate effectively.
There will always be an open line to the council Mayor Manager. It is common practice in
all the towns we serve and I know I answer directly to the citizens if there is a problem.
Check with citizen across the county.
6. Please provide any additional insights or comments that the Town might wish to consider.
The town of Stallings should examine what the term “control” means when
describing a police department and it’s daily operation, To “control” a police department
in this day and time means to pick, out the color of uniform, design graphics on a patrol
car, determine salaries. Then comes decisions such as neighborhood patrols, work hours,
satisfaction accountability, and, other things for a law enforcement organization. If the
town of Stallings compares the differences in contracting and providing its own law
enforcement service. It must consider that it will –place the task of enforcing laws into the
care of the Sheriff. While letting that task be taken over by someone else may at first seem
to be a difficult decision, the town will obviously benefit by being able to focus its efforts on
other town business. The Sheriff makes himself accountable to the citizens of Union County
in his, office’s election.