A spokesperson for the San Diego Sheriff’s Department has confirmed the city of Santee is considering downsizing their law enforcement contract.
If the measure is approved by the city council, the city could drop two community service officers and one SDSD traffic officer. Santee does not have a dedicated police force. Law enforcement services are instead contracted out to the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.
City officials say that annual cost keeps going up. They are now trying to determine how to best handle that based on budget constraints. Current projections indicate the San Diego Sheriff’s Department contract could increase by as much as $2.7 million within the next five years.
Elected officials are trying to determine if cuts could be made. They are also evaluating areas that would not impact crime fighting efforts.
Statistical data shows crime spiked in 2012. A spokesperson for the city reportedly said its the highest it’s been since 2008. Violent crime has decreased but property crime has gone up. This data is consistent with data from throughout the state. Some feel that increased property crime rates are directly linked to the California prisoner realignment program.
Under that program, low-level, non-serious, non-sexual offenders have been shifted from state prisons to serve their sentences in county jails. County jails have since become overcrowded, leading the Sheriff’s department to release certain local offenders before their sentences are up. Proponents of the realignment say it is too soon to determine whether increased property crime rates are linked to the realignment. Law enforcement officials disagree.
Santee says it simply cannot absorb an additional $2.7 million in costs for the San Diego Sheriff’s Department contract. A spokesperson said that if the proposed cuts are made, the city could save nearly $1.75 million over the next 60 months.
They also point out the traffic enforcement officer position has been vacant for several months. Mayor Randy Voepel said this cut would impact the number of tickets written, not crime rates.
A final vote is not expected to take place until next month. The San Diego Sheriff’s Department has not released further comment.