Last month, Rancho Murieta learned the Community Services District can enforce a water-conservation ordinance but its Security officers can't enforce a curfew or vandalism ordinance. This month the CSD Security Committee began to consider what that means to the community and to the Security Department.
"It's police power to enforce personal conduct. We don't have that authority, only cities and counties have that," said CSD General Manager Ed Crouse at Tuesday's committee meeting.
Security Chief Greg Remson said some residents are confused in the aftermath of CSD legal counsel Steven Rudolph's presentation on security last month. "I have -- and the department has -- received calls that are either prefaced or ended with, ‘I know you guys can't do anything, but.' And some of those calls are accurate because they were ordinance enforcement and some of them aren't accurate because they're an RMA rule or some sort of notification anyway."
"Obviously we're in a transition period on enforcement," Remson told the committee. "The ordinances aren't there, we're still working under a procedure that we're going to respond to the calls as we have in a safe manner. As always, if the officers don't feel safe or comfortable responding to those calls, then they're going to call the Sheriff's Department and have them respond and either work with them or let them handle these calls.
"I'm speaking with the officers every day, having them get feedback, thinking about the calls for service they're doing, their concerns ... and in a few weeks we'll have a group meeting and see where we are. I still think that these officers can provide a valuable service to the community even without the ordinance authority, and I think they want to do that. They're not happy, and none of us are happy ... about losing the tool that we had on some of those enforcement issues. They're concerned about liability. ... I'm not sure that's going to be a huge issue as long as we work within the parameters and are reasonable in our actions. ...
"We've never pushed making arrests. ... If there's an incident -- and usually it's going to be a violent incident - (and) the only way to take care of that problem or take care of that danger is to make a citizen's arrest, then we'll do that."
Security officers have the authority to issue citations for violations of covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) of homeowners associations within the district. This means the Rancho Murieta Association could help to bridge the gap left by the ordinances.
"We're really close to being on the same page and getting cooperation from RMA," said Director Bobbi Belton, a member of the Security Committee.
Remson said he was also working with the Sacramento County district attorney's office and the Sheriff's Department to develop another enforcement approach.
The RMA and CSD boards are expected to vote this month on reestablishing the Joint Security Committee. Crouse said he views the committee as a way to start a dialogue on short- and long-term solutions for providing security for the community. "Let's figure out where we need to go and how we need to get there," he said.
Neighborhood problems update
In recent weeks, several residents have gone public with problems they're having with their neighbors.
Fairways resident George Kammerer appeared at the Security Committee meeting to talk about noise and other issues he and his wife first aired at the CSD meeting on security in May.
Problem Oriented Policing Deputy Mark Kuzmich is now working on neighborhood problems in "at least three pockets" of the community, Remson said. "A lot of it is lifestyle, a lot of it doesn't go to criminal activity. It goes right up to that line so it's a difficult thing to take care of. Unfortunately, sometimes it gets to the point where it's gotten so bad, that mediation is not going to work, but we'll certainly try that." Participation in mediation is voluntary, he added.
"We'll go notify the person that there's a complaint, that the noise is too loud and whatever," Remson said. "If they choose not to quiet down, then the next call is to the Sheriff's Department. And we don't have any control over how they handle those calls."
He said off-duty deputies are made aware of the problems when they patrol with Security officers. The CSD hires off-duty deputies to supplement Security patrol.
Although Security can no longer enforce CSD ordinances that call for police power, complaints about noise and other disturbance issues don't appear in the ordinances anyway, Remson said. Instead, noxious activities are covered by homeowner association rules.
"RMA is reviewing their noxious-activities rule. ... A lot of it just has to do with noise. Their goal is just to tighten up their interpretation and that's a good thing," he said.
CSD Security officers would enforce the rules the same way they enforce RMA traffic rules on the private streets. "It will just be another ... notice of violation," Remson said. "It still won't be an instant fix but it will eventually be dollars."
The RMA non-architectural rule is available here. The RMA board will discuss the CC&R the rule is based on at its meeting Tuesday.
July 4 preparations
Chief Greg Remson reported that, in addition to Security patrol officers, there will be six off-duty sheriff's deputies and four private security officers patrolling the community July 4. Remson credited the Rancho Murieta Country Club for its help in getting the deputies to commit to working on the holiday. "The Country Club graciously gives everyone golf. ... That's a huge thing," he said. Thousands of residents and their guests attend the parade, carnival and fireworks display each year.
Faulty bar-code reader
Remson responded to questions about the out-of-order bar-code reader at the South Gate, saying it worked briefly after a $1,000 replacement motor was installed. When its reliability dropped to 50 percent, the reader was shut down again. If the current repair service can't fix the problem, the CSD will look into finding another vendor, Remson said.
The reader is no longer being made and a newer version from another company costs $7,000, he said. The system was installed at the North and South gates in 2002.