City of Del Mar debates starting its own police department

City will hold expert Q&A Panel Monday night
Posted at 6:08 AM, Jul 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-10 10:44:37-04

DEL MAR, Calif. (KGTV) - The debate over a police department in Del Mar could get some specific answers Monday night as a panel of experts will take questions from the City Council on the issue.

City leaders have been discussing the formation of a Del Mar Police Department since 2013. The issue has picked up steam in the last year after the completion of a feasibility study.

Right now, the city pays about $2.5 million to the San Diego Sheriff's Department for patrols and other police-related activities. For that, the sheriff's department provides the equivalent of nine full-time officers and employees.

The feasibility study says a Del Mar Police Department could have 18 employees for the same amount of money, not including any start-up or capital costs.

"If we had our own police department, we would have local folks who would stay with us, get to know the community, get to know the people," said Del Mar Mayor Terry Sinnott. "We think it would be a better police model."

It could also help improve response times. The feasibility study showed that the sheriff's department response times to Del Mar range from 9 to 55 minutes, depending on the severity of the emergency call. Sinnott believes a local force would drop those numbers significantly.

However, not everyone agrees. One store owner on Camino Del Martold 10News he's skeptical that the small town could manage a full department.

Other people who live in town said they're happy with sheriff's department and see no reason to change.

The San Diego Sheriff's Department sent this statement to 10News, saying they feel they're the best option for Del Mar:

"We want the Del Mar City Council to make the best and most informed decision for the safety of the residents and visitors in Del Mar. The Sheriff's Department believes it has the people and resources to continue to provide the best solution. We look forward to working with Del Mar, as with all of our contract partners, to continue to improve our service."

10News asked the sheriff's department if losing the Del Mar contract could free up those resources to provide more coverage around the city. They weren't able to give a definitive answer.

The meeting Monday begins at 5 pm. According to the Del Mar Times, it will include members of the sheriff's department, one of the consultants hired by Del Mar and the City Attorney.