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Morro Bay city manager advises against outsourcing police services

Morro Bay police Chief Amy Christey speaks next to Mayor Jamie Irons at a briefing on an officer-involved shooting October 30, 2015. Although the city was to consider a plan to outsource police services in 2017, the departure this week of Christey, who recently accepted a position in Pacific Grove, caused city staff to bring the issue to the table earlier.
Morro Bay police Chief Amy Christey speaks next to Mayor Jamie Irons at a briefing on an officer-involved shooting October 30, 2015. Although the city was to consider a plan to outsource police services in 2017, the departure this week of Christey, who recently accepted a position in Pacific Grove, caused city staff to bring the issue to the table earlier. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Don’t outsource city police services to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office until at least 2025, Morro Bay City Manager David Buckingham told the City Council in a report released this week.

Buckingham said Wednesday that feedback from residents who expressed a desire for an independent police force played a crucial role in his recommendation. The report was released ahead of Tuesday’s City Council meeting, when the council is scheduled to consider the issue.

“While outsourcing the Morro Bay Police Department might result in savings of up to $500,000 per year, money that could be spent on other city priorities such as improving streets, it is highly unlikely the city will see an improvement in the level of law enforcement services currently provided by the Morro Bay Police Department,” Buckingham wrote in his report.

Buckingham suggested the council put off any consideration of outsourcing for at least five years, and he recommended waiting until 2025.

In his report, Buckingham wrote that, based on his analysis, “the staff recommends the Council determine to not consider a contracted relationship for the delivery of Police, Fire or Harbor Operations until 2025, or such a time as the financial situation of the City changes in a way that requires substantial cuts achievable only through outsourcing and possible service reductions.”

The idea of outsourcing Morro Bay’s police services was floated in 2015 by consulting firm Management Partners, which provided the city with various recommendations for improvement.

Although the city was to consider the plan in 2017, the departure this week of police Chief Amy Christey, who recently accepted a position in Pacific Grove, caused city staff to bring the issue to the table earlier. Staff wanted to make initial decisions prior to recruiting a new head of police, Buckingham said.

Council members will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Veterans Memorial Hall, 209 Surf St.

Staff writer Lindsey Holden contributed to this report.

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