Would Sacramento-area residents pay more in taxes to put more cops on the street? That’s the question Sheriff John McGinness wants to ask voters in unincorporated Sacramento County, says the Sacramento Bee. Its ratio of 242 sworn officers for every 100,000 residents puts Sacramento County in the lower third of counties with a significant population covered by a sheriff’s department. Beefing up patrol divisions wouldn’t help the department solve murders more quickly, but could allow it to respond more swiftly to burglaries and other calls.
The most likely option is adding a special charge to property tax bills, a move that would require approval by two-thirds of the voters. County officials would try to get the question on the 2008 ballot. The department hasn’t determined how much of a surcharge it will seek or how many additional deputies would be added. Critics say the county should be cutting other spending to improve law enforcement coverage — not raising taxes. A half dozen other California counties already have created “county service areas” to boost police and fire spending. The jurisdictions can add surcharges in the specially designated areas to provide or increase services.