TULARE COUNTY (KFSN) --California State Senator Andy Vidak is making a push to improve police departments in three Central Valley cities, and make sure they stay up to date with state standards-under his proposed Senate Bill 453.
"We need to think about the safety of our small rural communities, the police officers that enforce the laws there, and those in custody," Vidak said in a video shot by his staff in Sacramento.
If the bill passes, Woodlake would receive $4 million to construct, update, or remodel their police department. Their building is more than 70 years old, and currently houses both police and city employees.
"If you think about what it was like to police a community like Woodlake in the 40s, we've come a long way in 70 something years," Woodlake Mayor Rudy Mendoza said.
Mendoza says the shared lobby is not conducive to safety, for officers, witnesses, or anyone coming in to file a complaint. He adds that the department doesn't even have proper briefing or interview rooms.
"We don't necessarily have an intention of relocating, but if we can refurbish or enhance with what we have, that is a big, big thing for us because we will continue to do the best we can with taxpayer dollars," Mendoza said.
Woodlake is a small force, with 10 officers. They have three open slots, and Mendoza says the potential funding could help recruit officers, and keep them longer.
"They are looking for a city that's able to provide the tools and the resources necessary for them to do their job in a safe and proficient manner," he said.
The bill also provides equal funding for Parlier and Orange Cove. It may be acted upon sometime this spring.