Dolores Davies | Crest Road
The Del Mar City Council appears to be pivoting away from creating a new police department. Council members voted to reach out to the Sheriff to explore possibilities for injecting more “community policing” without adding too much to the $2.14 million annual price tag. The Council is also interested in gathering more community input on various law enforcement scenarios, including a possible citizen’s debate and an opinion survey.
The Council’s July forum queried experts on law enforcement issues and concerns. Panel members were Assistant Sheriff Mike Barnett and North Coastal Captain John Maryon, former Carmel Chief George Rawson, and Del Mar Ranger Adam Chase.
After an overview by City Manager Scott Huth, Mayor Terry Sinnott guided the Council Members through innumerable questions ranging from start-up and operating costs, liabilities and pensions, to response times, facility needs, and the personnel recruitment and training that would be needed to build a local police force.
Council members expressed appreciation for the Sheriff’s law enforcement services, but many expressed a need for more community-based policing, which would require another layer of service. Several pointed to Adam Chase, the City’s Ranger, whose purview is limited by state law to the beach and parks, as someone who is already practicing the kind of law enforcement Del Mar needs.
Chase spends much of his workday on foot, talking to residents, business owners, and visitors, responding in a proactive mode. Although Chase is a sworn law officer, his reporting line is to the City, which limits his ability to work as part of the Sheriff’s law enforcement team.
When asked about community-based policing, Captain Maryon suggested that adding one or two community service officers might be the answer. He also stated that the new fairgrounds storefront office should result in more prompt response times.
Assistant Sheriff Barnett responded that the Sheriff’s office would be open to further discussions about Del Mar’s contract. This suggested that the Sheriff is more open than in the past, to a more tailored contract to meet Del Mar’s needs.The Council directed Mayor Sinnott and Council Member Ellie Haviland to explore with the Sheriff possible adjustments to the City’s contract. Sinnott has served as liaison to the City Finance Committee looking at cost effective alternatives to the $2.14 Sheriff contract which rises about 5% annually.
While the Council did not officially shut the door on the PD proposal, the Council chose not to take action, but agreed to reconsider in the fall after discussions with the Sheriff.