The Malibu City Council voted unanimously on Thursday to extend the city’s contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff ’s Department to provide police services to Malibu through 2019. City officials said the sheriff ’s department, which the city paid $6.3 million last fiscal year, provides the best service as opposed to other agencies such as the California Highway Patrol.
“This is the best way to handle the city’s policing activities at this point,” Mayor Joan House said when asked about the agreement.
The city’s annual contract with the sheriff ’s department has increased from $5.5 million in Fiscal Year 2008-2009 to $6.3 million in Fiscal Year 2012-2013. For the fiscal year 2013-2014, the city has budgeted $6.4 million to pay for Sheriff ’s services, according to Assistant City Manager Reva Feldman.
The sheriff ’s department does not provide estimated costs associated with the agreement beyond the next fiscal year, Feldman said. Estimates are doled out instead on a year-to-year basis.
“Each year, the county provides the City with a breakdown of the costs for the upcoming fiscal year,” Feldman said. Feldman said she normally receives a monetary breakdown every June.
Malibu does not put its police services out to bid annually, City Manager Jim Thorsen said. The city has looked at other policing options in the past, and determined the sheriff ’s department provides “a great service at a great price.”
In years past, the city has considered using the California Highway Patrol as the main patrolling service on Pacific Coast Highway and also reached out to the City of Santa Monica to possibly consider sharing a police force.
“Santa Monica wasn’t interested at all,” said House, who said the Santa Monica idea arose in the late 1990s.
Thorsen said cost estimates for the CHP came back too high when Malibu inquired a few years ago. He could not recall how much the estimate was, but said it was “definitely higher” than the deal offered by LA County Sheriffs.
Officials said that the sheriff ’s agreement is not binding, and both parties are granted a “right of termination” in the contract.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff ’s Department has been the subject of controversy in the last several months, most recently when Sheriff Lee Baca resigned as head of the department following allegations of corruption within the department’s ranks.
Most recently, 13 deputies, two lieutenants and three sergeants were part of a federal indictment in December. Alleged offenses include submittal of false reports in attempts to defend the use of excessive force, as well as unlawful arrests of prison visitors, threatening an FBI agent at her home and training rookie jail deputies to abuse a mentally ill prisoner and lie about the incident.
Several candidates are vying to take over for Baca in the April election. Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell recently entered the race and is pitted against former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka and department whistleblower Bob Olmsted.