CHARLENE MENNINI: Guest commentary ...

Now that the Naples budget is being considered, wouldn’t it seem the perfect time for the City Council members to do a study of how much they would save if the Naples Police Department consolidated with the Collier County Sheriff’s Department?

Regardless of the reason, all prisoners are taken to the Collier County Jail.

It could also solve the problem of delays in emergency medical service calls.

Currently, calls to Naples 911 for EMS are evaluated by the Naples operator before they are forwarded to Collier County 911, losing valuable time in the transfer. With one 911 agency it would be a direct call to Collier County.

The exception would be fire calls. They would have to modify their autonomy and share fire 911 expenses.

As listed in the departmental summary statistics for Naples Police in the 2010-11 budget report, for 2009 the bulk of the Naples police activities were traffic stops and parking tickets. It would seem that some version of a "parking authority" would be less expensive than occupying the time of uniformed police officers.

In addition, assigning uniformed police officers to specific neighborhoods for outreach activities is a nice touch, but most Neapolitans would be perfectly safe without a police officer to remind them to lock their doors, etc.

It’s nice and "homey," but with budget constraints being what they are, it is no longer affordable.

The 2009 departmental report lists no homicides; four sex offense reports with two cleared by arrests; 11 robbery reports with seven cleared by arrests; 25 aggravated assault reports with 17 cleared by arrests; 646 larceny reports with 281 cleared by arrests; eight auto theft reports with three cleared by arrests and zero arson reports.

That adds up to 772 reports, with 321 cleared by arrests. That is a few more than two reports a day with less than one successful arrest per day. There isn’t any information on how many of these calls required the assistance of the Sheriff’s Department.

Even if the majority of the Naples police officers might be hired by the sheriff to provide the necessary services to the community, the savings for eliminating layers of support services, upper echelon personnel and overhead from facility expenses would be significant.

A good example of a county service is the Sheriff’s Department. Its leader, Sheriff Kevin Rambosk, was chief of Naples police before he became sheriff, and he resides in Naples, so is very familiar with the needs of the community. The worst example is the fiefdoms of the fire departments which should also be consolidated.

Perhaps there are municipal laws of which I am unaware that would prohibit this and, surely there would be dissenters, but it is an idea to save the citizens some money and no more "off the wall" than parking garages on Gulf Shore Boulevard!

Mennini is a retired classical musician; she has visited Naples since 1956 and lived there since 1989.

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