JEFFREY HERMAN, former SCFD firefighter, 1972-1975, San Clemente
From the time of the city’s founding until the early 1990s, San Clemente had its own police and fire departments: SCPD and SCFD. Its members were city employees—not under the influence or control of the county. Most members lived within the city and cared deeply about our town and their fellow residents; many had grown up and went to school here. They were “locals.”
Due to mismanaged budgets during the previous decades, in 1993 the city felt it had to disband and decommission both the SCPD and SCFD, and instead contract with the county for sheriff and fire protection.
The above decisions were contrary to the usual historical course of action: small towns begin their existence by contracting with a county for almost all services. As that town grows and becomes financially independent, it begins to shed its dependence upon the county and creates its own Institutions. But the San Clemente City Council’s actions of 1993 were completely opposite of this.
Since that year, the city’s tax base has grown substantially to the point that I believe it’s time for the city manager and councilmembers to study the recommissioning of its own police and fire departments, setting pay scales according to the city’s finances.
Never again should the city be put in the current position posed by the county: “Pay up or our deputies will leave.”