Public Safety Hangs in the Balance as Negotiations Between Willows and Sheriff's Office Hit Stalemate

A contract dispute between the Glenn County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Willows could soon leave city residents without many policing services.

GCSO has provided law enforcement services to Willows since 2017 when its police department was disbanded. GCSO says inflation, gas prices, and a 38% increase in deputy pay has forced the office to raise prices. The new contract with Willows has been priced at $2.5 million a year, which is over a million more what the city has budgeted for.

Rising costs seem to be just one piece of the puzzle. Willows was the first city GCSO ever provided policing services for. The office now admits it underestimated the workload.

“We didn't look at the impacts to our office staff. We didn't contract for evidence tech, processing, or for a records clerk… our front office staff had been very overburdened by the caseload by the City of Willows. So that's something that we're adding during this contract negotiation so we don't continue to overwork our staff," GCSO Public Information Officer Amy Travis told KRCR.  

Willows now accounts for roughly 50% of the sheriff’s office caseload.

Since the contract with Willows expired in July, the city has incurred $600,000 in bills. The deadline for a new agreement is October 16. After that, GCSO will cease all law enforcement activity in the city except for dispatch and response to felonies in progress.