Sheriff Spells Out What Protection He Can Provide Long Beach

Sheriff George Payne's proposal to take over Long Beach law enforcement duties does keep a police presence on city streets. But it cuts 18 positions from a department with only 50 employees. Some dispatchers, records clerks, and administrators would not be retained because similar positions already exist at the sheriff's department.

Payne described his plan by saying, "We're showing where we can save money by ending duplication for the taxpayers."

The sheriff estimated that his plan could save Long Beach $645,683. In the process, he said a sheriff's department presence would give a small city like Long Beach better access to high tech crime fighting tools. "They have a bunch of good, young policemen there," Payne said. "We're simply offering a new administrative package to them that I think is going to save the taxpayers in Long Beach some money. But it's a decision they need to make."

Mayor Robert Bass sees a lot of merit in a plan that provides the city law enforcement protection, and also saves it money. According to Bass, "It's a smarter way for us to do business and to make sure that when we're taking dollars out of our citizens' pockets, that we're making the absolute best use of those dollars."

If Long Beach aldermen were to approve the sheriff's plan, the city would no longer need its police station. So one of the possibilities being tossed around is to turn the police headquarters into a senior citizens activity center. The city would then take the current senior center on Jeff Davis Avenue and make it a sheriff's department substation.

Bass said, "It's an alternative and I think a very intelligent alternative for the citizens of Long Beach and the board of aldermen to consider."

Long Beach aldermen will hear about the law enforcement plan at Tuesday night's meeting.

In the meantime, the Long Beach mayor said he's still looking for a new police chief. But Bass doesn't want to hire anybody until the city determines whether the sheriff's department will take over Long Beach police duties.