Representatives from the Pacifica Police Department, the city of San Mateo's Police Department, and the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office congregated Tuesday morning at the Half Moon Bay Police Department for a short conference for parties interested in submitting a to , according to Lee Violett, Interim Police Chief for the City of Half Moon Bay.
"We spent an hour and a half where I answered questions submitted to me in advance. They also got a tour of the department," said Violett.
Violett emphasized that though San Mateo, Pacifica, and the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office were the only law enforcement agencies present this morning, there still may be other agencies within the county that might submit a bid, as the pre-bidding conference was not mandatory for all applicants.
"They were the only ones who had questions and were looking for clarifications," he said.
Violett said that questions from the three agencies ranged from general questions about the state of Half Moon Bay's budget as it relates to the police department and services cut a result of the city's need to downsize staffing at the department to more specific questions regarding the specific size of the property evidence room, which Violett said two members of the group took a special interest to assess whether the size of the room would meet their needs.
"There were also questions about what the city might charge to rent or lease our [police department] facility to them, but that's something we don't have an answer to right now," he said.
According to Violett, representatives also had questions about how the city costs out its services for big events such as the annual , which has been said to attract as many as 300,000 visitors in the past.
Violett said that he also fielded questions about personnel, such as the city's current requirements to hire officers. He also gave those in attendance copies of the MOUs (Memorandum of Understanding) between the city and its police officers, a copy of the department's contract for public safety communication, and copies of the city's cost recovery process for big events such as the , and Rock the Block.
The meeting, which was not open to the media, was attended by Pacifica Police Chief Jim Saunders, Pacifica Police Captain Jim Tasa, Pacifica Captain Fernando Realyvasquez, City of San Mateo Deputy Police Chief Mike Callagy, San Mateo County Sheriff's Office Undersheriff Carlos Bolanos, and Lt. Larry Schumaker with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, according to Violett.
"The RFP was very well done," said Greg Munks, San Mateo County Sheriff. "We intend to put forth a proposal and the meeting was a good opportunity for us to get more information," he said.
"This is something that we've been through before with San Carlos," Munks said, "so it's nothing new for us...we were able to learn a whole lot through this process, and we feel like we know what we need to do."
In the past few months, Half Moon Bay City Council members have expressed concern that outsourcing their police force would take away the advantage of having officers out on the street that residents know and have developed relationships with -- a dynamic they have called "community policing."
"The police is part of the community -- we have community policing and I think it's an important part of the community, and that's part of the reason I was so upset it [1% sales tax increase ballot initiative ] failed," said Half Moon Bay Mayor Naomi Patridge last month.
"It's very difficult if you outsource regardless if it's the sheriff or another city, as there's not that bond between police force and community members," she said.
"We're very lucky that we don't have violent crimes or gangs," Patridge continued. "That doesn't mean we don't have gangs...they're not out there being disruptive, and I attribute that to the police department," she said.
Munks said that the Sheriff's Office also feels it is important to be part of the Coastside community.
"We do a lot on the coast already in regards to community programs," he said, referring to the Sheriff's Activity League active in the schools and Moonridge Housing Development in the unincorporated areas covered by the county Sheriff's Office.
"It's something we’d continue to do and something we've done in San Carlos," Munks said, noting that when the Sheriff's Office took over policing for San Carlos last fall, half of the San Carlos police force continued to work in the community to provide a sense of continuity for residents.
"We have to have a adopted budget by June 30 so we're in a time crunch looking at the police services and the other parameters," Patridge said.
"People are very upset that we may lose the police," Patridge continued. "I'm not sure -- it's 99 and 4/10% we may lose the police because we don't have the money," she said.
"Today's meeting was part of the RFP process that allows interested parties to get together and hear all the same things at the same time," said Violett. "It keeps the process very fair," he said.
The request for proposals (RFP) for services was released to all law enforcement agencies in San Mateo County on Jan. 27, according to Violett. Responses to the RFP are due on Feb. 24. Violett said that a one-week extension to the deadline can be granted if an agency requests it in writing.
UPDATE 3:27pm: Pacifica Police Chief Jim Saunders has not yet returned a phone call regarding today's conference or his thoughts on the RFP.
Pacifica City Manager Steve Rhodes has said previously that what would primarily interest Pacifica about taking over Half Moon Bay's police department would be a drop to its own operational costs due to any money it might receive from Half Moon Bay. The challenge? Delivering quality service at somewhat of a distance, he said.
To view a copy of the RFP, along with informational charts and graphs attached to the RFP, click here.