YORBA LINDA – Officers in dark-blue uniforms will be replaced by deputies in green at the stroke of midnight Friday night, as the Orange County Sheriff’s Department takes over policing services for the city that had been patrolled by Brea police for 42 years.
Brea police officers were set to patrol Yorba Linda streets until May 3, but an end of the cities’ contract was rushed to January after Brea officials found themselves struggling to provide enough officers to patrol both cities.
Black and whites with the Yorba Linda emblem on their doors have already been cruising through the city this week, mainly to check radio and signal connections in patrol vehicles before the Sheriff’s Department takes over services Saturday, said Capt. Steve Doan.
“We’ve got to make sure this process happens seamlessly,” Doan said.
The Yorba Linda City Council decided to end its contract with Brea in April, opting instead to enter a five-year contract with the Sheriff’s Department.
Since then, Yorba Linda officials rejected two last-minute offers to re-sign with the Brea Police Department. In its last offer, Brea offered to provide policing services to the city at a cost of $9.3 million annually, effectively underbidding the Sheriff Department’s offer by about $600,000.
Brea’s offer beat its initial bid of $10.7 million back in April. Brea’s eleventh-hour proposal included an offer to pay for whatever costs Yorba Linda might incur by terminating its contract with the Sheriff’s Department, but the offer was rejected by a 3-2 city council vote.
Ready to go
Doan, who heads the Sheriff’s Department’s North County operations, said deputies and administrators have been working this week on the final details, including switching phone systems in Yorba Linda so 911 calls will be received by sheriff’s dispatchers, not Brea police. On Thursday, sheriff’s officials were still moving furniture and office supplies to 20994 Yorba Linda Blvd., where deputies will be based.
“We’re basically getting everything ready to go,” he said. The building is set to be expanded, but Doan said deputies will be able to make due with the space in the meantime.
Sheriff’s officials have already hired 19 patrol officers, one sergeant and one investigator from Brea police that will be assigned to Yorba Linda – a promise made by the Sheriff’s Department to ensure deputies patrolling the area were familiar with the city. Brea police have since lost another six officers to other agencies, making it more difficult for the department to patrol both cities and prompting a rush to hand off responsibilities.
On Saturday, seven patrol units will be cruising Yorba Linda, a community with 64,000 residents in a 20-square-mile area.
Though the city has been hit with a rash of home burglaries in the last month, Yorba Linda has a relatively low crime rate.
For its transition into Yorba Linda, the Sheriff’s Department plans to purchase 13 patrol cars and nine additional unmarked cars. Another three motorcycles, 24 mobile radios and 31 handheld radios are also set to be purchased, according to the department’s proposal.
Patrolling the city
Twenty deputies will be assigned to patrol within city boundaries, and another six will be allotted to patrol unincorporated pockets within the city limits, Doan said. The cost of those six deputies will be split between Yorba Linda and the county.
While Sheriff’s Department and Yorba Linda officials have agreed to a “per diem” cost for adopting their contract five months earlier than expected, the terms of terminating police services between Yorba Linda and Brea have yet to be hashed out, said Mark Aalders, assistant city manager for Yorba Linda.
Among the terms that have yet to be agreed on is the final payment to Brea and the unfunded pension liability of Brea officers that were assigned to Yorba Linda, Aalders said.
According to an analysis of police service proposals made by Ralph Andersen & Associates for Yorba Linda last year, Yorba Linda has an ongoing expense for worker compensation cases of about $260,000. According to the analysis, “There is no language in the current Brea contract which would obligate Yorba Linda to any future pension liability.”
It wasn’t immediately clear what terms the cities may agree to in order to end the contract early.
“Those details will be hammered out in the course of time,” Aalders said.