The second Law Enforcement Ad Hoc committee meeting, headed by Mayor Pro Tem Paloma Aguirre and Councilman Ed Spriggs, was held via zoom last Saturday, Aug. 1. The topics of the meeting included the Sheriff’s Department use of force, alternative services and ways to make the services more efficient. Consultants Mike Gray and Dr. Keisha Clark were present and spoke during the meeting. About 45 residents participated and many comments were heard and questions were answered.

City Manager Andy Hall held a short presentation on the Sheriff’s Department and clarified that the city is currently beginning year three of a five year contract which is based on a menu consistent with the other nine cities who use the Sheriff’s Department for police services. For fiscal year 2020, the Sheriff’s personnel costs for the city are as follows: Patrol deputy (11) $197, 287.57; Traffic deputy (2) $197, 278.56; SPO deputy $197,278.56 (4); Detective $206,463,73 (3); Community Service Officer $86,394.18 (2 non-sworn); patrol sergeant $255,131,93 (2.087); traffic sergeant $ 255,131.93 (1); Detective Sergeant $255,131,93 (.6); Station Staff (Lt. and staff) $508,718.10 (.6 Lt. plus support staff). A few positions are shared with unincorporated areas of Bonita. The total net cost of the Sheriff’s department contract is $5,595,457.70. Other costs include: ancillary support, supply, vehicles, space, management support, and liability for a total of $1,915,396.58.

Overall there was a mix of positive and negative comments by the residents about the Sheriff’s Department that ranged from worries that if the city cuts back on the Sheriff’s positions, the strides made in the last 10 to 20 years will be nulled, while others complained about cuffing and curbing.

Spriggs made clear any changes to Sheriff’s services will be more of a surgical approach while maintaining boots on the ground. He also pointed out that calls for non-violent crimes exceed the calls for violent crimes. “This community’s first priority is sufficient public safety,” he said.

Aguirre agreed and said the city’s priority is to keep the community safe while balancing the budget and providing services needed.

Response to calls by non-sworn officers or psychological emergency response team for domestic violence or mentally ill residents was discussed.

The annual crime statistics for Imperial Beach provided by SANDAG for 2019 showed violent crimes were 2.62 per 1,000 residents compared to 3.40 per 1,000 in the region, 12.06 in property crime per 1,000 versus 16.48 in the region.

More numbers provided showed that 61 percent of burglaries were residential, 49 percent of burglaries had no forced entry, 39 percent of larcenies were thefts from motor vehicles and $3,000 in property was stolen per day. In 2019, 199 domestic violence incidents were reported, one arson, five violent crimes against seniors, and three hate crimes.

Hall said he did not receive specific information he had requested from the Sheriff’s Department regarding use of force and ethnicity numbers. He was told the Sheriff’s Department compiles the information for the entire operations in the county not by city. Hall said he will continue to try to find the information.

Both Hall and Aguirre pointed out the disconnect between the use of force by the Sheriff’s Department and what the community perceives as use of force. The city would like to hear comments from the residents about encounters with the Sheriff’s deputies and whether they were positive or negative.

Other topics that were clarified included: Sheriff’s overtime pay is used for special events, two patrol officers are on duty at any one time, and patrol officers work 12-hour shifts and detective and lieutenants have 8 hour shifts.

In 2020, the city had the lowest crime rate than other cities in the county and in 2019 it had the third lowest. “A lot has to do with our residents…as in the case of graffiti…the community has worked together with law enforcement, [which] is why the crime rate has gone down,” said Hall.

To view this meeting log on https://www.imperialbeachca.gov/ad_hoc. The next Law Enforcement Ad Hoc committee meeting will be held Aug. 15 at 9 a.m. via Zoom.

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