Through creativity, renovation and response to previous Inyo County Grand Jury recommendations, the Bishop Police Department has earned very high marks on the 2012-13 Inyo County Grand Jury report card that the BPD received last month.
The Grand Jury’s Oct. 24, 2012 inspection of the BPD, which was led by Police Chief Chris Carter, resulted in the department receiving both several commendations and a few recommendations.
At the Aug. 12 City Council meeting, City Administrator Keith Caldwell, reading from the Grand Jury’s report and supporting documents, congratulated Carter on the three commendations BPD received for:
• “Continued excellence in serving the community;”
• “Willingness to adapt, remain organized and work well within the limitations of a confined and inefficient work space;” and
• Implementing creative cost-cuts in areas such as energy savings, use of reserve personnel and dual tasking – for example, BPD’s custodian, a licensed contractor, “often performs small renovations around the office.”
The City Council approved the BPD’s “City of Bishop Responses to the 2012-2013 Inyo County Grand Jury Report,” which delineated how Grand Jury recommendations have been addressed. The response, signed by Mayor Laura Smith and Carter, will be sent to Inyo County Superior Court. All of these documents are available to the public at www.ca-bishop.us  under the “Government” tab in the Aug. 12 City Council agenda packet.
Smith said, “Done, done, done,” as she summarily checked off the BPD’s efficient and timely handling of the following kinds of Grand Jury recommendations:
• During the 2012 inspection, 10 officers were working 12-hour shifts – fellow officers worked overtime to cover absences due to illness or vacation. Since City Council’s December OK to hire two more officers, “we have gone to 10-hour shifts. That is working much, much better,” Carter said. “From an administrative standpoint, it is easier to schedule people and it saves quite a bit on overtime,” Carter explained. “It puts more officers on the streets during peak times.” Absences are covered by shift adjustments or reserve officers – and as a last resort, by fellow officers.
Carter said that BPD is currently processing reserve officer applications from among those submitted by graduates of Cerro Coso Community College’s Bishop campus Basic Peace Officer Level 2 and 3 academies. In coming months, he will ask City Council to lift the hiring freeze and okay the addition of several more reserve officers.
• BPD records and lobby area renovations were completed in June. Expanded seating and added walls, counters and bullet-resistant glass now provides greater employee security and facilitates better public service to the community.
• BPD is making plans to move forward, in the 2013-14 fiscal year, with renovations in compliance with Grand Jury recommendation to construct private “soft interview” rooms for witnesses and victims to ensure a private, secure environment.
Overall, BPD’s holding cells and facility were all found to be in compliance, holding a maximum of 16 detainees. There is a booking cell, a regular holding cell and a padded detoxification holding cell, all “clean, freshly painted and in good shape,” according to the Grand Jury. With a maximum six-hour holding time, there is no food service. There is also no medical treatment except for very
minor injuries. Detainees are processed and confined upon transfer to the Inyo County Jail.
“We appreciate that the Grand Jury has continually recognized the efforts of the agency, not only under my leadership but also previous (chiefs of police),” Carter said.