Morro Bay may disband its police department

July 20, 2016

Morro Bay Police Department

The city of Morro Bay is considering disbanding its police department and contracting out law enforcement duties to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office. City council members will discuss the possibility at an Aug. 9 meeting, according to a public memorandum circulated by City Manager David Buckingham.

David Buckingham

David Buckingham

Buckingham’s memorandum cites a suggestion made by a consulting firm as reason for the city to consider contracting out its police services. The memorandum does not state the city is hoping to cut costs, but it is widely believed that saving money would be the primary motive for disbanding the police department.

Last year, Morro Bay officials commissioned a study of the city’s organization, management process and fiscal situation. Consulting firm Management Partners completed the study in May 2015 and delivered 65 recommendations to the city. One of Management Partners’ recommendations was to obtain a proposal from the county sheriff’s office for providing law enforcement services to the city.

In November, the council decided to wait until 2017 to formally consider contracting out its police duties. However, Morro Bay’s police commander recently left the department, and Chief Amy Christie is expected to take over as Pacific Grove’s top cop on Aug. 16.

Following the announced departures, the city council opted to expedite a discussion on contracting out law enforcement services. At its Aug. 9 meeting, the council is expected to decide whether the city should make preparations for requesting a proposal from the sheriff’s office. City officials have already initiated talks with the sheriff’s office, according to Buckingham’s memorandum.

In the case Morro Bay proceeds with contracting out law enforcement duties, the city has set parameters for proposals it will consider. City officials say there must be no reduction in response time or in the number of sworn patrol officers on shift.

The parameters also state the sheriff’s office would have to maintain a Morro Bay force that would be based at the city’s current police station. That unit would also have to look and feel, as much as possible, like the existing police department. The deputies would have to drive Morro Bay police vehicles and have other Morro Bay insignia.

Additionally, the contract must include a set term and an opt-out provision that would allow the city to restore its police department, according to the parameters.

City officials will take input from the public before and during the Aug. 9 council meeting. The meeting will take place at 6 p.m. at the Morro Bay veterans’ hall.


This is a very bad idea. Do the good people of Morro Bay want to wait 30 to 40 min for a response to their call? Will the sheriff dept police the streets? another lousy idea from the clown car brigade…


Perfect example of this … recently a woman in Los Osos called 911 to report a man banging on her front door in the early morning hours that appeared to be under the influence. She was advised by SLO sheriff dispatch the response time was close to an hour due to the deputies being tied up on another call up near ragged point. Seriously? This woman could have been seriously hurt or worse. That’s just an example of the type of service and response time you may get.


At least Morro Bay would have a place to use the panga boat chaser.


Whew…for a minute there I feared they might want to cut spending on something REALLY important, like the city manager. Good to know it’s just first responders, that should make everyone feel more safe.

Jorge Estrada

One other thing, please don’t forget to invite the entire County because the staffing will affect the departments ability to serve the current unincorporated areas. There is a good chance that the resolve may be the Sheriff having to arrest the CFO for Bell, correction, Morro Bay?


(hating north county this time of year)

The residents of Morro Bay may want to talk to some residents in Cayucos and Cambria. I wouldn’t bother with the government folks — just the real people. I am happy to live where we have a local Police Department.


This is such a joke and waste of time and money….there is no way Sheriff would agree to these parameters..And even if they do, then why would the City do it since it wont not save any money to go to sheriff. The only way to save money is to reduce staffing. .


Pariknson not want more power and a bigger budget, more toys for him get. He wouldn’t pass that up.


This proposal should be put to a vote of the people in Morro Bay.

Rich in MB

Folks…as a Resident of Morro Bay when will the Circus end?

But the truth is the City can’t afford to have it’s own Police Force, so it only makes sense to disband the high cost force with all the duplication of effort, support staff, etc and turn it over to the local Sheriff. Now you can see the game Mayor Irons is playing, he wants to see the same Morro Bay squad card patrolling the streets so he don’t have to take the heat for getting rid of the local force, but that’s a BS game to duck the hard choices. It’s time to grow up folks…when the City is Broke, there is no shame in disbanding the local high cost police force and giving that job to the Sheriff.


Well, Ringling Bros. got rid of the elephants in their circus, we need to get rid of the asses in ours…and NOT the cops.


You make a good point Rich, but the Sheriff’s have a terrible response time. I wonder if the Sheriff’s Dept would in turn hire more deputies…


How Morro Bay is “broke” continues to astonish me what with the massive revenue relative to population. Pismo Beach doesn’t pretend to be “broke”. What’s happening is a siphoning of funds to incompetent and redundant layers of city administration. Buckingham is used to military structure, favoritism, inefficiency, fealty and waste. He has truly found a home in Morro Bay.


I understand there is a heavily armed Pirate that is currently on foot patrol ,he might fit in.