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Deputies to Continue Patrolling Palmdale : Law enforcement: Pact extends service to June 30. City plans audit and may weigh starting its own police force.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sheriff’s deputies and the city of Palmdale have signed a pact that calls for deputies to continue patrolling the city through June 30, but in the meantime, the city is launching a study to determine just how cost-effective the Sheriff’s Department contract is.

Without comment, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved the agreement that retroactively covers this fiscal year. Most cities that use sheriff’s deputies for police services renew the services for five-year periods.

The one-year renewal will cost about $8 million.

The cost review will begin next week and take three or four months to complete, said Ron Creagh, assistant city administrator.

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“What it attempts to do is to determine whether you are operating at maximum efficiency and effectiveness,” Creagh said Tuesday. “That means cost-effectiveness.”

He said the city staff will try to find out whether Palmdale is getting all of the law enforcement services for which it’s paying.

In belt-tightening moves in the summer, Palmdale council members took several programs away from the Sheriff’s Department and hired civilians to do the work. These duties included supervising local Neighborhood Watch programs and teaching anti-drug abuse classes in Palmdale schools.

The Sheriff’s Department protested the changes, saying the civilians would not handle the programs as well as deputies. But Creagh said the new employees, who all have law enforcement or crime prevention experience, have handled the programs well at less cost.

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The upcoming law enforcement audit will help the city determine whether it can save still more money by assigning other sheriff’s services to civilians or by creating its own police department.

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Sheriff’s Lt. Dave Collin, who supervises the Palmdale substation, said Tuesday that he is not worried about the outcome of the city’s audit.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that they’re going to find that the Sheriff’s Department is doing a good job in the city of Palmdale and that they are getting everything they pay for,” he said.

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Collin said Sheriff’s Department supervisors already keep track of how much time each deputy spends on calls in Palmdale. Also, he said, the department reviews how deputies are deployed in the city and makes changes in response to crime trends.

Collin said he does not believe that it would be less expensive for Palmdale to run its own police department. But he added: “If they think they can do it cheaper and better themselves, city officials would be remiss in not looking into that.”

Other cities that contract with the Sheriff’s Department have also looked into starting their own agencies, Collin said, and “they have found that we are a good deal.”


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