ENCINITAS — In her final Encinitas City Council meeting, Sheriff’s Capt. Theresa Adams-Hydar issued an impassioned call for the council to grant her request for an additional deputy to create a two-officer team to focus on downtown and beach area police work.
The call was not answered.
A divided City Council voted 3-2 to allow for her successor, new Capt. John Maryon, to provide his own assessment of staffing levels at the Encinitas Sheriff’s station, as well as statistics that would justify the hiring of an additional deputy. Deputy Mayor Catherine Blakespear and council members Tony Kranz and Lisa Shaffer voted in support of the motion, while Mayor Kristin Gaspar and Councilman Mark Muir opposed it, criticizing the majority for the delay vote.
“Now we are being told by our captain that we are at a point of no return,” Gaspar said. “We have asked her, she has answered. It is a need right now, and I am here to listen to that.
“We have had this conversation at three council meetings…and I am fully supportive of giving the citizens the coverage they need and the response times they deserve,” Gaspar said.
The Council’s vote came after staff gave a detailed report on the summer crime and incident statistics in the downtown area and the city’s responses to a litany of issues downtown, including Adams-Hydar’s impromptu creation of a two-deputy team using existing resources.
According to the report, downtown residents and business owners saw both anecdotal and statistical improvement in the number of nuisance issues downtown when the two-deputy teams operated, Wednesday and Thursday during the day and Friday and Saturday nights.
Once the deputy team was reassigned to their usual duties, the gains disappeared, residents said.
“The community is grateful for what took place during the three months, but as soon as it stopped, it was right back to the way things were,” local resident Shirley Finc said. “I am not here to try to convince you to go one way or another, the key is to get the patrol in place soon so we don’t lose any more ground.”
Adams-Hydar said the temporary deployment was unsustainable because it required using a so-called “overlap shift” team that works from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. that typically provides relief for both day and night shift deputies. Not having the overlap shift in place would result in increased overtime for day shift deputies and delayed response times to non-priority calls.
“You want to keep that overtime down because eventually it does come out of the pocket of the taxpayers, and I don’t want that to happen,” she said. “It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul and you can’t always do that. It is a Band-Aid fix and is avoiding the inevitable in your city.”
The voting majority said that while they appreciated Adams-Hydar’s concerns, they expressed skepticism that adding an additional deputy, which would cost $250,000, was necessary in a city with flat crime rates, as opposed to re-prioritizing the deployment of deputies.
“It is important that we ask department heads to live within their budgets, unless we see crime going up,” Blakespear said. “When I look at these stats, I don’t see that.”
Additionally they said, they wanted to give Maryon an opportunity to assess the department’s staffing and return with his own recommendations.