Morro Bay drops police outsourcing after public outcry

Source: Lindsey Holden, The Tribune, August 10, 2016

Morro Bay residents on Tuesday night showed strong support for their local police force, speaking out against a plan floated by the city to outsource law enforcement services to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office as a way to save $500,000 a year. City Council members, who were to consider whether to further research contracting out the city’s policing, heard from dozens of constituents who packed Veterans Memorial Hall to praise Morro Bay’s department and the level of service officers provide. … The idea first came about in 2015, when Management Partners, a consulting firm Morro Bay officials hired to provide feedback on how the city could function more efficiently, proposed outsourcing law enforcement to save money. Morro Bay was to take up the issue in 2017, but the Aug. 1 departure of police Chief Amy Christey, and the need to find her replacement, prompted city officials to consider the topic now. … A 10-year budget forecast by Management Partners prompted the city to look into cost-saving measures last year, Buckingham said. Although Morro Bay’s finances are in the black and basic services can be met, he said, the city has about $3 million in unfunded needs, including an annual $1 million shortfall for street repairs and $2 million per year for facility replacements and expanded services. … Prior to the council’s vote, angry residents booed Buckingham when he brought up potential cost-savings during his report. Residents who took to the podium said their quality of life in Morro Bay depends on maintaining local services, such as police, fire and harbor patrol. Ken Vesterfelt presented council members with a petition, signed by 2,200 people, urging the city to keep its police department. …