Barry Entous | Dolphin Cove Cour
The time has come to stop outsourcing the safety and security of our residences and businesses and move forward toward creating our own police department. Four years ago the Del Mar finance committee, at the suggestion of City Council liaisons Al Corti and Terry Sinnott, created a subcommittee to address the escalating costs and unsatisfactory service levels of our contract with the County Sheriff. The city of Del Mar is one of nine cities that contract with the Sheriff office for security services. The latest contract, expiring in June 2017, calls for annual increases of 3.5% to 5% but excludes at least one large unknown cost, defined benefit plans.
In 2013 the city hired a consulting firm to compare the current Sheriff’s contract with establishing our own police department. That study concluded that the Sheriff’s response times are comparable to other cities contracted. Response time for serious /priority calls ranged from 9 to 15 minutes and for lower priority calls up to 50 minutes. The consultants concluded that with our own department all calls would be similar to the city’s own fire department, 6 to7 minutes.
The subcommittee met with the Sheriff’s office to discuss ways to address the community’s concerns with response times and a suggestion was made to consider forming a small police department. At a subsequent meeting between Councilmembers Corti and Sinnott and Sheriff Gore’s office to discuss our suggestions, the then undersheriff Pendergrass refused outright to entertain any of the changes we suggested.
In late 2015, the city brought back the consulting firm to update the additional cost of establishing our own police department that would include Del Mar’s current Ranger function. The current cost to the city for the Sheriff’s security services, overtime hiring for special events and the Ranger is comparable to the cost of our own 19-person police department totaling $2.4 million. The committee and consultants have addressed the costs of dispatch, liability insurance, mutual aid agreements with adjacent agencies and locating the department in rental space within the city, and all are within the $2.4 million budget.
The committee believes that expanding on a very successful Ranger program, one which by law currently services only the parks and beaches, to the entire city, would address the majority of community concerns. Community policing (knowing the officer), adjusting to seasonality, and operational control, are not an option with the Sheriff. Our own department would provide significant improvements in security, traffic enforcement and safety for our community, at a similar cost to contracting with the Sheriff. The City’s liability, should it become an issue, would be covered like other cities in an insurance cooperative.
Now is the time for bold leadership from our City Council to have the courage to move forward with our own police department.