The rising cost of policing services carried out by the Orange County’s Sheriff’s Department will be the subject of an in-depth review in the coming weeks. The effort involves 13 cities which currently contract with the OCSD, though coordination is largely being led by Mission Viejo. The city council voted unanimously to hire Mountain View-based Matrix Consulting Group to conduct the analysis on Nov. 28.
The analysis of the sheriff’s office contracts is expected to cost $269,500. It will be split between the cities according to population. Those cities include Mission Viejo, Aliso Viejo, Dana Point, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Stanton, Villa Park and Yorba Linda.
The 13 cities that contract with the county sheriff’s department have been expressing concern about rising contract costs for some time and approved the joint study earlier this year.
The contract costs have increased nearly 33 percent in the last 10 years, with 23 percent of that increase occurring in the last five years, according to a memo that was circulating among the cities until late September. Many city leaders said the cost increases, along with flattening or even dwindling revenues, are unsustainable. Others said the study could be a bargaining chip for the cities.
Right now, the cities have no input on the contracts which are negotiated between the sheriff’s department and the county’s Board of Supervisors. With some small cities now spending half their budgets on policing services, it’s no wonder they’re seeking change.
Matrix was chosen to carry out the review because of its experience studying similar contracts in other cities -- most recently in San Clemente. The county has been cooperative with the requests, city official said.
The OCSD contract review is expected to take six to eight months.