Dave Druker | 10th Street
A few years ago the Finance Committee looked at the costs of the contract between the City of Del Mar and the County Sheriff to provide law enforcement. These costs were rising at a very steep rate in comparison to the overall budget of Del Mar. Meanwhile the service level being provided by the Sheriff did not seem by many to be commensurate with the costs.
The City of Del Mar and other cities negotiate jointly with the Sheriff to determine the cost of services. These cities include Solana Beach, Encinitas, Vista, San Marcos, Poway, La Mesa, Santee and Lemon Grove. By negotiating as a group, the cities have more leverage over costs. But each city must choose from the “menu” of service levels for its needs.
The City hired the consulting firm of Ralph Anderson and Associates to perform a study of the current services to determine if there could be a more cost effective means to provide better services. John Goss a former City Manager and George Rawson a former police chief conducted a very thorough study.
In summary, the study found that the annual cost of Del Mar having its own police force would be commensurate with the cost of the Sheriff contract about $2 million beginning in 2014. However there would be some unknown costs of liability and workers’ compensation that could make Del Mar’s own police force become more expensive in the future. An additional major cost would be about $1 million for the initial setup of an independent police force including hiring personnel, locating or building a facility, and purchasing equipment. The cost of dispatch is unknown as there is no guarantee that the Sheriff would contract out that service for Del Mar.
The other major conclusions dealt with service levels including response times. The report suggested ways to improve service under the existing Sheriff contract. The report suggested that a stand-alone department would more than double the number of police staff thereby improving service levels and decreasing response times.
The report recommended that the City negotiate better coverage by trading a fulltime detective for a ½ time detective and a ½ officer on patrol, using the traffic officer as backup for the fulltime officer on patrol and better monitoring of the service levels.
The consultants and the Captain of the Encinitas Sheriff Department gave a long presentation to the City Council on Monday, November 18. The Council agreed that the community would be served better by continuing the Sheriff contract for now and directed staff to pursue the recommended changes in personnel and service levels as well as better monitoring. The Council also asked the Finance Committee to delve more deeply into the potential costs of a stand-alone police department.