Sheriff Says NO to Take Over

September 2, 2009 6:22:46 PM PDT
Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims has turned down a proposal to turn over policing of Fresno's County islands to the Fresno Police DepartmentFresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims has turned down a proposal to turn over policing of Fresno's County islands to the Fresno Police Department. The county islands consist of several large neighborhoods inside Fresno's city limits, including Fig Garden, Mayfair, and Sunnyside.

Mims tells me she wants voters to decide this issue. Both the police chief and Mayor Ashley Swearengin have talked with the sheriff about taking over county islands. But they can't agree if the move would actually save tax payer money.

Sheriff Mims explains she is responsible for policing all un-incorporated parts of Fresno County. Mims says, "I will not abdicate that responsibility. The question is: am I going to contract for those services with the City of Fresno? And the answer is no."

Sheriff Mims says she met with Fresno's Police Chief Jerry Dyer 2 to 3 weeks ago. At that meeting, Chief Dyer made a preliminary offer to take over patrolling the islands. Dyer says, "It's not about who can provide a better service, whether it be a deputy or a police officer. It's about efficiency. We have a large volume of officers within the City of Fresno, within the metropolitan area."

The sheriff said no because she fears the board of supervisors could further cut her budget. Mims believes city officials should put the issue on the ballot and let residents decide. Mayor Ashley Swearengin agrees, "Residents have to be weighing in. There's no attempt to move something forward without really hearing from people. One way do to it is at the ballot box. That's an option."

The mayor tells me she doesn't know for a fact if consolidated policing would actually save money. Her staff is doing an analysis to find out that information. The sheriff, mayor and police chief are expected to meet as early as next week to continue discussions.

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