On August 7 the Fullerton City Council will decide whether or not to request “an analysis” from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department on the cost of providing police services to Fullerton. The previous, pre-recall, council had already asked for a feasibility study of consolidating police services in north OC.
Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Whitaker’s request that the council merely ask for a bid from OCSD has predictably elicited a strong reaction from the Fullerton Police Officers Association, the union representing sworn officers of the Fullerton Police Department. The FPOA hired none other than former Fullerton resident and retired State Senator Dick Ackerman, well known for representing unpopular enterprises in Orange County, to lend his voice to a recorded telephone call urging Fullertonians to oppose the request.
It remains to be seen how many of Fullerton’s residents will attend the council meeting to support or oppose this action, but anecdotal evidence suggests to me that most people would like to see a locally controlled police department. It has been suggested that hiring the OC Sheriff to replace the Fullerton Police Department could save our city as much as ten million dollars per year. It would be difficult for anyone not to consider such a savings in this economic climate.
For many, outsourcing local police services would punish a department justifiably criticized for the killing of Kelly Thomas last year, as well as several other actions that have led to multiple lawsuits against the city. However, Orange County Sheriff’s deputies have themselves been accused of using excessive force, negligence leading to inmate beatings and deaths in jails, and the reputation of the department suffered terribly under the leadership of now convicted ex-Sheriff Mike Carona and other former top officials.
Although money may ultimately be the deciding factor in who to pay to police Fullerton, no agency should ever be allowed to patrol the streets of our city again without proper civilian oversight. Trading one department for another will not prevent problem officers from committing recurring acts of unwarranted violence unless there is someone watching over them to take seriously complaints filed by members of the public. No amount of money saved is worth allowing the violation of our civil rights by any police agency, and money saved can just a easily be lost in lawsuits to pay off the victims of such crimes.