To reduce expenses, the city of Half Moon Bay, California will Outsource its Police Services

Today marks the beginning of the end of the Half Moon Bay Police Department.

The city, struggling to close a long-term budget deficit, is disbanding its 12-member force and outsourcing the job of law enforcement to either Pacifica, its neighbor 14 miles to the north, or the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.

Both the sheriff’s office, which has 462 deputies, and the 36-member Pacifica Police Department are offering jobs to all of Half Moon Bay’s officers, although they would not all necessarily work in the city.

The city has estimated that outsourcing to the sheriff would save $510,000 a year, compared with $80,000 for Pacifica.

The City Council will also consider a proposal today to outsource its recreational services – including youth sports, art, and dance and fitness classes – ironically, to San Carlos.

Felony arrests went up 92 percent in the three months after sheriff’s deputies began patrolling San Carlos, compared with the same time a year earlier, said Greg Rothaus, who was San Carlos police chief and is now a sheriff’s captain overseeing police services in the city.

Rothaus said the response times by sheriff’s deputies to emergency calls has been identical to that of officers from his former department. Besides San Carlos, deputies also patrol Woodside and Portola Valley.

City Manager Jeff Maltbie agreed, saying the sheriff’s office “has really adopted and brought San Carlos into their family. They’re not acting like some independent contractor. They really see us as part of their community.”

What Took So Long?

Half Moon Bay can save $510,000 a year, $42,500 per year, per officer and the city council did not want to make this decision. Pray tell would the city losing by outsourcing?

The answer is nothing. All 12 officers will be retained although it appears there will be some additional rotation between officers. More importantly, arrests went up and response times stayed the same for San Carlos when that city outsourced.

The article did not say where the savings would come from, but it can only come from two places, lower salaries or lower benefits. I suspect much of it is from the latter.

It is a waste of taxpayer money to blow up $510,000 just for the “prestige” of cities having their own police force. $510,000 is a lot of money to a town of 13,300. There is no reason for larger towns to needlessly waste money either.

I am still waiting for some large city to do the same thing. Several Cincinnati council members wanted to outsource police work, but Cincinnati’s mayor, a former police chief, remains beholden to the police union, and not the citizens who elected him.

For more on the Cincinnati story please see Cincinnati Threatens to Outsource Entire Police Department

Every city in the country ought to be looking to reduce costs. Outsourcing police work to the sheriffs’ association appears to be a good way to do it.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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