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Paid consultant to conduct review of Sunnyside PD

The Sunnyside City Council reached a compromise this past Saturday on when to begin a thorough, third-party review of police department activities.

Council found the middle ground during a study session that focused on budget amendments for 2011-12.

The original plan was to start the review this summer. However, Councilman Don Vlieger asked to wait until the first of next year to start the study.

"I don't want them to have to cover their tails," Vlieger said. "Let's say what this really is...they're coming to find faults."

Vlieger said this summer would be bad for a review because Sunnyside police are already inundated with new programs, such as a canine unit and a crime analyst, recently added to the department.

Councilman Paul Garcia replied that more than half-a-million dollars in increased police spending also discussed on Saturday is because a review of police policies hasn't been done.

"We have to quit thinking short term and think long term," Garcia said of the move to add three new police employees and four new vehicles to a budget that's just four months into the 2011-12 cycle.

"This is a tool for planning for the future," Garcia said. "I don't think we need to wait until the end of the year."

The debate also included Mayor Jim Restucci chastising Deputy Mayor Nick Paulakis for asking Police Chief Ed Radder if this was a good time for the review.

Radder replied that a delay in implementing the review would be helpful.

"It's wrong to ask the (department) boss if it's an OK time," Restucci said to Paulakis. "I know you've got a lot on your plate but it's never a good time for a study," he told the chief.

In the end, council agreed to a compromise that begins the search for a consultant now, but waits until November to begin the actual review.

Garcia said he was fine with the move, as long as the review results will be available by February 2012 when council starts work on the next budget cycle.

The review will be conducted by a paid consultant to evaluate police budgets, policies, staffing, operations and management.

The review, which is estimated to cost $30,000 to $35,000, will make recommendations about the police department.

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