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9 Cities Seek Evaluation of Ties to Sheriff

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In the wake of a narrowly avoided budget crisis, the nine cities that contract with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department decided Thursday to consider forming a committee to evaluate the process that determines who pays how much for law enforcement services.

The committee, which would represent both the cities and the county, would determine how to maintain service levels, such as for SWAT teams and rescue helicopters, without breaking the financial backs of the cities, said Poway Mayor Jan Goldsmith.

Mayors and city managers of the nine cities involved must return to their individual city councils for approval to participate in the committee, Goldsmith said.

Initially, the mayors and city managers also had considered looking into breaking away from the Sheriff’s Department completely to set up their own law enforcement agencies, but opted to reserve that right pending the findings of the committee.

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The cities were frustrated last summer when the county had proposed to charge them $8.3 million for items such as rescue helicopters, the SWAT team and homicide services, items the cities felt they were entitled to under their contracts without extra charge.

The cities do not quarrel with the quality of the law enforcement services they are receiving, rather they said they feel powerless over what services are offered and, if budget cuts are necessary, where those cuts would occur.

“It isn’t the Sheriff that we are concerned about. It’s the County Board of Supervisors and the way they choose to handle things,” said Gloria Curry, Del Mar’s city manager.

“The county gives us the feeling, and always has, that they could care less whether we contract with them or not.”

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It was not yet clear who will make up the blue-ribbon committee or when it will be established.

Other than Poway and Del Mar, the cities are Solana Beach, Encinitas, Vista, San Marcos, Imperial Beach, Lemon Grove and Santee.


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