Most members of the Stanton City Council said Saturday that they are leaning--in some cases reluctantly--toward a plan to disband the city's Police Department and contract instead with the Sheriff's Department.
In its proposal to the city, to be considered by the five-member council Monday night, the Sheriff's Department has said it could provide law enforcement services to the city of 29,000 for less than the $2.9 million annual cost of the Police Department.
Earlier this month, Stanton voters rejected a property-tax increase to help maintain the Stanton Police Department.
"I hate to give up our Police Department," Mayor Martha V. Weishaupt said Saturday. "But I will have to go with the Sheriff's Department if they can provide more services for less money than we are paying now for our present Police Department."
$2.2 Million a Year
The Sheriff's Department, in the three contract proposals that will be reviewed by the City Council on Monday, says that it can provide police protection for between $2.2 million and $2.6 million annually, depending on how much coverage the city wants. Under all three proposals, at least one patrol officer would be added to each shift in Stanton.
But the report does not specify how the Sheriff's Department can provide more protection for less money. And the four City Council members who could be reached Saturday said they will need that information before they can make a final decision at the Nov. 24 City Council meeting.
"I don't want to see us lose our Police Department, because Stanton would lose part of its identity," said Councilman Ed Allen, a former Stanton police chief. But, he added, "if going with the sheriff proves to be more cost-effective, then to be fair to the taxpayers I would have to go with the transfer."
Council member Paul Verellen said: "I'm leaning toward trying to get the best protection for the city for the least amount of money. If the county can give us an increased level of protection at the same or lower cost, then I will go with that.
"The claim seems to be that (the sheriff) can do this, and at the hearing Monday we will pin them down as to how they can do it--and exactly what the level of increased services will be."
Councilman Mike Pace said he was "pretty convinced that there is no other viable option in the long run but to go with the Sheriff's Department."
Councilman Sal Sapien could not be reached for comment.
The study session, which is open to the public, will begin at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Stanton City Hall, 10660 Western Ave.