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Menlo Park: Police want to boost force by 35 percent

Menlo Park: Police want to boost force by 35 percent

The Menlo Park Police Department wants to boost the number of officers who carry firearms by 35 percent.

The department is seeking to add 17 sworn officers to deal with coming growth in the bayfront area. The department currently has 48 sworn officers, as well as 22 professional staff members.

The patrol division currently divides the city into three beats, or patrol areas, and the department wants to create a fourth beat that would operate weekdays during regular business hours and “would run along Bayshore Expressway to include all Facebook campuses, Menlo Gateway properties and the entire M-2 area,” according to a staff report.

The M-2 area refers to the bayfront area as well as portions of the Belle Haven neighborhood that were rezoned to allow for up to 4,500 new residential units, 2.3 million square feet of new nonresidential uses and 400 new hotel rooms, as well as bringing in up to 9,900 new employees and 14,150 new residents.

Facebook has tentatively offered to fund a new bayfront policing unit made up of five officers and one sergeant for the first five years, at an estimated cost of $9.1 million, according to the report.

That arrangement would be similar to Facebook’s partnerships with the city on a Belle Haven police substation in 2013 and a community safety police officer position in 2014, in which the tech company also funds costs for vehicles and equipment. The price tag does not include future pension or salary increases, but the agreement would allow for adjustments in those costs on an annual basis.

The proposal is an item on the agenda (http://bit.ly/2lZYyjI) for Menlo Park City Council’s meeting Tuesday night.

Staff is seeking guidance from the council on the item Tuesday, but if it is approved, possibly as early as March, the police department would immediately assign two officers to the bayfront beat and begin the hiring process for six new officers.

The council meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. inside council chambers (701 Laurel St.).