By Eric Heinz
Despite voicing a preliminary decision to keep San Clemente Police Services overtime pay the same as years past, the City Council voted to instead cut overtime pay and add two deputies to the San Clemente beat and retain an investigator.
The Council voted to cut $260,000 out of the $800,000 designated for overtime in its contract with Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) as well as forego its $48,000 stipend members receive each year. But that still doesn’t cut it; certain line items in the budget will have to be cut as well.
The Council left discretion of the city manager and the police chief as to whether one of those positions should be a motor vehicle deputy and voted to not retain a full-time crime prevention specialist (CPS) but keep a part-time CPS position.
Lt. Mike Peters, chief of San Clemente Police Services, said the overtime pay that he uses—which he and city officials agreed the department hadn’t spent more than it was allocated in recent years—is vital to being able to dispatch deputies for things like the program implemented to enforce small crimes and issues related to transient and homeless people and other responses. Peters also emphasized that, based on a study the city commissioned in 2016, San Clemente receives far more calls than neighboring cities, so it’s important to keep that overtime pay the same in order to adequately service the area.
But the public outcry for more deputies has been deafening. Meeting after meeting, people in San Clemente have demanded it, and the optics of that outcry have been enough for City Council to rule in favor of having a more visible police presence in the effort to dissuade crime.