Since it incorporated in 1959, the City of Half Moon Bay has had a police force. Now, after 52 years in service and an ongoing fiscal crisis, the department is going away to save just over a half million dollars a year.
On Saturday the Half Moon Bay City Council voted to begin merger talks with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office. The County's bid prevailed over a competing offer from the Pacifica Police Department. Half Moon Bay has fewer than 16 full-time jobs in its police force, and those will become Sheriff's Office jobs provided the deal goes through as planned.
In a sad, sometimes tearful meeting, police staff made peace with the end of their department. No one really pushed back against the closure, says Interim Police Chief Lee Violett.
"I think everybody in the room agreed that, whether they said it or not... that the time has come to do this," Violett said. "And maybe a sense that it should've been done a couple of years ago."
Half Moon Bay has been cutting spending since the 2007-08 fiscal year. Expenses are down 20% since then, according to a city budget analysis, and the city's workforce is 45% smaller. The cuts sped up after Half Moon Bay lost a land use lawsuit in March 2009, forcing budget cuts including 19 lost jobs. Five of those jobs were in the police department.