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Update: Sheriff's Department Staff in IB to Decline Sharply in Coming Years

Imperial Beach will lose its captain and 11 deputies, detectives and other positions just to maintain current rates as sheriff law enforcement costs increase and the city's budget declines.

Updated 12:15 p.m. Tuesday to clarify the city's position on the elimination of a School Resource Officer at Mar Vista High School.

will see sharp declines in staff over the next three years, said Public Safety Director Tom Clark at a city workshop meeting last week. 

Negotiations between the sheriff's department and the city are ongoing and things can change, but the station may lose near half its staff over the course of the next three years.

"What that does, that leaves us with a department that is more reactive than proactive," Clark said. "A very, very lean enforcement group."

"Our first year, we're looking at probably a $415,000 hit to the city," he said. Another $600,000 or more will be eliminated over the following two years. "We were looking to get a five-year contract. Now it's down to a three-year contract with their latest proposal." 

About $1 million in reductions will be made in order to keep up with increasing sheriff costs, said City Manager Gary Brown. The sheriff's current $5.7 million contract is the single largest expense in the City of Imperial Beach's budget.

"Overall mayor and council, what it amounts to is over the years, if we're lucky, we will pay the same, but we will be getting much less service," he said.

As of July, the station will become a substation, will no longer have a captain, and the city will no longer pay part of the salary of the School Resource Officer at .

Lillian Leopold with the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) said currently the district cannot say whether or not they would pick up the costs to assure an officer stays on campus at Mar Vista if the city stops paying its portion.

Agreements have been established with other municipalities in the SUHSD to share costs, she said.

Clark said if the district pays an additional $12,000, then the City of Imperial Beach will agree to pay half the School Resource Officer's $144,000 salary, and seek cuts elsewhere.

Eliminating the position could save the city $84,000, but Clark warned that if the district doesn't agree to pay more, the move could mean a deputy is sometimes taken off the street to resolve issues at the school.

                                     Positions to be Eliminated

2012-2013 Motorcycle traffic deputy, School Resource Officer, Admin Sergeant and a Community Service Officer 2013-2014 Detective, two Community Service Officers and Department Aide 2014-2015 Detective/Traffic Sergeant and two Special Purpose Officers

In total, cuts will leave 12 deputies assigned to two positions in Imperial Beach. 

"We always have to have two deputies out there 24/7, one for contact and then to cover," he said. "So it takes a total of 10 deputies to cover two positions, four or five to one."

The city may also hire a private contractor to transport prisoners to detention facilities after arrests are made "so we don't have to take one of our deputies off the street."

Lt. Marco Garmo said the reductions should not be reason for concern.

"At no point will these changes have a direct impact on public safety for citizens. We're not talking about taking the number of deputies off the street," he said.

Just like every other city in the state, IB is cutting back, he said, but the city gets a lot out of its sheriff's contract.

"$5.7 million sounds like a lot but when you see what you're getting for it, it's not that much," he said.

Costs are expected to increase as the sheriff's department prepares to open a new station next spring in Rancho San Diego. 

Bonita-Lincoln Acres deputies currently based here will move to Rancho San Diego, Garmo said, and the city will lose some funding from the county.

The city's contract with the Unified Port District of San Diego, which includes some law enforcement funding, is currently being negotiated as well.

Clarification: The original version of this story said that Public Safety Department director Tom Clark said the city will stop paying the School Resource Officer at Mar Vista High School. This has been clarified to say that if the Sweetwater Union High School District comes up with another $12,000 to cover half the costs, then the city will try to honor paying the other half of the cost, and look for cuts to make elsewhere.

Kelly Tracy March 20, 2012 at 01:49 AM
What ever happens in the Sheriff department contract negotiation process the Imperial Beach city government should not sacrifice our public safety. I believe the Sheriffs department are under staffed here in Imperial Beach as it is. Public Safety should be a priority.
Jon Hall March 20, 2012 at 04:46 AM
$5.7 million a year - that is just over $15,600 a day ...
ibcalif March 20, 2012 at 01:28 PM
The city will leave us without any police protection at all before it cuts back on its own bloated public union employee salaries and pensions.
IBVERN March 20, 2012 at 05:25 PM
I am sure the criminals in this city appreciate this news.
Mitchell D. McKay March 20, 2012 at 07:53 PM
That's about 60 cents per person per day...or $18.00 a month per person for the current level of protection and services...doesn't seem too unreasonable in those terms...It would be nice to know what other cities pay the Sherrifs Dept for similar level of services???
Jon Hall March 20, 2012 at 08:45 PM
60¢ a day from every man, woman, and child in Imperial Beach - and that DOES NOT include staffing at special events (Sandcastle, Parades, Pancake Breakfasts, Ball Games, Skate Events, Surfing Events, etc) This *great deal* the residents are getting is the main reason Sandcastle was cancelled - couldn't afford to *pay* for the protection ...

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