Council Votes Out Police Department

Council Votes Out Police Department,

Sheriff to Take Over in January

By Luke Phillips
Imperial countyAs of January, 2010 Holtville will no longer employ it’s own Police Department and the Imperial County Sheriffs Office will provide exclusive law enforcement services within the city limits.
The Holtville City Council voted unanimously to approve a contract with Imperial County Sheriffs Department for law enforcement services in Holtville at their last regular meeting, Monday, Nov. 24th.
The council approved an expenditure of up to $955,198.00 for police and dispatching services through the year 2014.
Five Sheriff’s deputies will be assigned to patrol within the Holtville city limits and Imperial County Sheriff Raymond Loera will assume the duties of Chief of Police.
The Sheriffs Department will be running their Holtville operations out of the current Police Department building at Fern Ave. and Sixth Street. As part of the agreement between the city and the county, the Sheriffs Department will also make use of Holtville’s police vehicles and equipment. The city, however, will not be required to furnish any new vehicles or equipment in the future, according to the contract.
The Sheriffs Department will also be required to affix the name of the City of Holtville to all squad cars used primarily within the city limits.
The county will be required to maintain their own liability insurance for employees and vehicles. If the city and county are both found to be responsible for negligent acts or willful misconduct by officers, they will each take a proportionate share of liability. Each agency will also be responsible for their own court costs and attorney fees.
This year’s total budget for the Police Department was $908,460 – $46,738 less than the contact amount with ICSO. The city will however be saving $25,000 on administrative costs, $50,128 on insurance costs and $166,400 on Worker’s Compensation costs for a total net savings of $194,790, according to documents provided by the city.
The city has operated with an interim Chief of Police for the last two years while it tried to work out a solution to continual turnovers and unstable situation with a Chief of Police.
The Sheriff’s Department is expected to bring that stability to the job as well as provide more technical and administrative support.
It was unclear what was going to happen to the officers currently employed by the city.
Police officers, however, have been in high demand around California and the country in general. Part of the problem of keeping a force together was the high turnover.
As officers got more experience, they sold their services to higher bidders, leaving Holtville with people continually in training.
The same applied to the police department’s dispatcher duties. After longtime dispatcher Angie Garcia retired, the department had a constant turnover of help. The dispatching duties were then contracted for with the Calexico Police Department. Those duties will also be taken over by the Sheriff’s Department.
The contract is expected to be put into effect January 4th, but may take some extra time for the County Board of Supervisors to approve it if its members  have questions on it. The Board of Supervisors has to approve the contract before it can take effect.
In addition to the five officers, the Sheriff will provide an  administrative sergeant who will act in the capacity of the current police chief.
The city put a bond issue before the voters over a year ago which called for an increase in the utility tax to fund the city’s own department.
The measure failed when the required two-thirds vote was not achieved.  the city manager began negotiating in earnest with the Sheriff’s Department following the vote. The Sheriff’s Dept. will also operate out of the new public safety  building to be  built here in 2010.