Dolores Davies | Crest Road
At its April 3 City Council meeting, following an extensive presentation by City Manager Scott Huth, the Del Mar City Council voted to schedule a City workshop in June to further examine and discuss the voluminous data and findings referenced in the City Manager’s report.
Huth presented a long and detailed report to the City Council, summarizing the City’s law enforcement alternatives to the existing $2.14 million contract with the Sheriff, which continues to escalate by approximately $100,000 each year. While the report provided information on the alternatives examined by Ralph Anderson & Associates, the consultant retained by the City to work with its Finance Committee to study law enforcement options, the City Manager clearly advocated the Police department proposal as the most cost effective and logical way to go for Del Mar.
“We have been studying our law enforcement alternatives now for 4 years,” said Huth. “A stand-alone Police Department could meet Del Mar’s needs by providing the sort of community-based policing that we want and are not getting with the Sheriff’s contract. It could also give us better response times and more of the kind of staffing we need, while resulting in cost savings of about $365,000.”
While some members of the Council expressed gratitude to Huth and City staff, as well as the Finance Committee, for the prodigious amount of work they had undertaken to get the City to this point, they were reluctant to move forward with a community outreach effort just yet.
“There is a huge amount of data in this report and in the studies that have been completed,” said Councilmember Haviland. “I feel like we need more time to get a better grasp on this and perhaps have some discussions amongst ourselves before we go out and solicit community feedback.”
While Mayor Sinnott, one of the Council liaisons charged with working with the Finance Committee, thought the Council had an obligation to the community to bring residents up to speed on the law enforcement options to solicit their feedback, Councilmember Druker said he felt that the community had already given the Police Department proposal a thumbs-down, given that those candidates in support of a Police Department were not successful in getting elected. Druker advocated for tabling the Police Department proposal and moving forward with a possible expansion of the city’s current Ranger program.
Councilmember Worden remarked that the police department proposal responded affirmatively to three key questions that he felt needed to be answered before moving forward. This included whether or not police services could be provided for the same amount or less then the City was paying to the Sheriff, could a police department deliver those services better, and could the City manage the potential liability and pension costs.
“The report answers all these questions with a ‘yes,’” said Councilmember Worden. “There’s a lot of appeal in moving forward. It would be very premature and inappropriate to end the dialogue tonight.”