OCEANSIDE — With more development underway, city leaders discussed the need for more police officers to handle any crime that comes with growth during a March 11 City Council meeting.
Deputy Mayor Jack Feller and Councilman Chris Rodriguez proposed to have staff come up with a police staffing metric to be applied to new development. Additionally, the two want the metric to be incorporated into the Community Facilities Element update that staff is currently working on.
“We’re at a point in time as we prepare for the next five, 10, 15, 20 years in our city we’re pretty built out and we need to ensure that future developments are mitigating appropriately for public safety, in particular our police department,” Rodriguez said.
Staff is now responsible for developing staffing metrics and bringing them back to council within six months.
Councilman Ryan Keim, a former Oceanside police officer, wanted those metrics to include some recruitment and retention efforts. He noted the department is down about 15 officers.
“Otherwise our gap is going to get bigger and a lot of these priorities that the community has are predicated on our officers to take care of it,” Keim said.
Keim suggested using some money from Measure X to help as well and justified given the challenges to quality of life the city has without enough officers.
Mayor Peter Weiss noted that if the city waits to incorporate the metric on the Community Facilities Element update three years would likely pass before the police staffing metric is applied. He said the metric would need to come back to council sooner and could be included in the update at a later date.
According to City Manager Deanna Lorson, the city will need metrics in place to go forward with the Community Facilities Element update.
Councilwoman Esther Sanchez mentioned looking at applying such a metric to the fire department as well. For her, it all boils down to improving public safety in general.
Rodriguez said that fire already has a memorandum of understanding with the city to maintain five-minute call times but the police department does not due to the lack of a staffing “nexus.”
According to Rodriguez, the metric would help to ensure developers pay their fair share for police and police infrastructure. Whether or not that metric would be determined by call times or number of officers per population will be up to staff to determine what works best.
Samantha Nelson covers Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and the decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. She earned her journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and has previously reported for The Athens Messenger in Athens, Ohio, and USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @samm1son