Recovery, or at least stabilization, may be the watch words on Wall Street and in private industry, but for municipalities in California, it’s still very much the darkest hour. As Ryan Gabrielson of CaliforniaWatch reports that seven different L.A. County municipalities have approached the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department about having the sheriffs take over local policing duties.
That’s about double what’s considered normal in a tough economic period.
It’s expensive to run a police department and increasingly it’s becoming something of a luxury. As cities see revenues dry up, and state officials reshuffle finances back to Sacramento in hopes of filling their own $19 billion hole, things are getting worse.
Earlier this month in two of cities southeast of Los Angeles – Maywood and Cudahy – the county sheriff’s department had to frantically shift resources to pick up police services, as the city governments essentially shuttered and shed all law enforcement personnel.
The same step was taken by local leaders last month in the Silicon Valley community of San Carlos, according to the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Henry K. Lee. Outsourcing law enforcement to San Mateo County should save the city about $2 million, according to sources quoted by Shaun Bishop in the San Jose Mercury-News.
Across the Bay, the Associated Press reports that Oakland’s police chief, in the wake of laying off 80 officers, or about 10 percent of his force, will meet hat-in-hand with an alphabet soup of federal agencies in an attempt to get more money or manpower to police the city’s restive streets.
Cities are not alone, nor is the fiscal train wreck limited to urban areas. Rural Modoc County, in California’s extreme northeast corner are begging for a $12.5 million bailout from the state to stave off bankruptcy, according to Cathy Bussewitz of the Associated Press. True, Modoc’s problems stem not from law enforcement costs, but a creative accounting scheme involving the county hospital that recently became too big to hide.
After bailing out Wall Street and banks, paying for unemployment, and trying to stimulate the economy, there doesn’t appear to be much left in Washington that can trickle down to local governments.