Bishop City Council examines LE contract with Inyo Sheriff

Sheriff Bill Lutze will meet with City of Bishop officials.

Sheriff Bill Lutze will meet with City of Bishop officials.

Like most towns, City of Bishop officials worry about money. Council members have met in a series of workshops to look for ways to cut costs and save cash. One of those ways they will look at involves the potential for the County Sheriff to contract with the City for law enforcement service. This is not something council members have decided on, but it is something they feel they should examine.

At their last meeting, the Council did agree to send a letter to Inyo Sheriff Bill Lutze to ask for discussions about dispatch services or complete law enforcement service. Sheriff Lutze said that he has received the City’s letter and will meet with representatives to start a dialogue on this issue.

Asked how he feels about a law enforcement contract, Bishop Police Chief Chris Carter said he could not blame the City Council for looking into it “because they do have a financial responsibility to look at any and all areas to save money,” he said. Carter said the Council has been clear with him that they would ask the County to provide the exact same level of service that the Police Department provides.

Chief Carter said going with the County would mean loss of control by the City Council over the details of police service and who oversees it. The Sheriff is an elected official. The Police Chief is employed by the City Council.

Chief Carter said he thinks that he, Sheriff Lutze, County Administrator Kevin Carunchio and City Administrator Keith Caldwell will initially sit down for a meeting. Citizens are just hearing that the Council is looking into a County contract. Police personnel watch developments with some tension.


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21 Responses to Bishop City Council examines LE contract with Inyo Sheriff

  1. Dan December 23, 2013 at 1:00 am #

    There is no way you will have the same service that you have with the local Police Department if you contract with the Sheriff’s Dept. I grew up in Bishop, work in Bishop, and live in the City Limits. I am raising my children here as I was raised. I coach at the High School, in short I Police the community that I am wholeheartidly a part of. I am proud of this fact and take great personal pride in my work in the City. I am protecting and serving my family, my enlaws, my kids, and their families. We can respond anywhere within the City in a few minutes normally. Half of our employees grew up here and also have a huge interest.

    I have worked for a Sheriff’s Department in the past. I know from experience that Deputies do not have the vested interest, pride, or connection with a certain City. This is not because they are less of Officers, they are just different. The Sheriff’s Department culture is one of beat assignements. Any night that they go into service they can be responsible for a different beat within the County, so they dont know the specifics and connection of one small city, in my case 2.2 square miles.

    I know when a car is out of place, I know who lives in different areas of the City, I know the routines of shop and business owners, we know who’s home, and whos house is vacant because they are out of the area.

    I know who belongs at the High School and who doesnt. I try and mentor some of the kids I coach on the grid iron, they see me as a coach, and as a Police Officer, because often times I have to go to practice in my uniform. With this small town Police Department culture comes a connection.
    Bishop Police Officers pride themselves on the quality of service they give the people and residents of Bishop. Most of us our from Bishop and live in Bishop raising our families much like we were raised here. We came back to raise our families because of the quaility of life here and with the high expectation of quality of life comes high quality of service from a small vested Police Department.

  2. lifetime local November 20, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    Did anyone else notice that in the story regarding suspects being arrested for breaking into Rite Aid and Wave rave that the police dept had to step in due to the fact that the sheriff’s deputy on duty was unavailable? Not to infer that the deputy was not doing his job, but it goes to show that the sheriff’s dept is already spread way too thin for the size of this county. It would be ridiculous to expect them to take on more territory.
    I feel that we should keep the local police dept. They are able to respond within minutes, whereas a county deputy could be clear down in the southern end of the county when called upon. Just doesn’t make sense.
    I also personally disagree with the statement that just due to the fact that the Sheriff has served for many years, he is doing a good job. The department he leads is full of political vendettas and personal conflict. As the man in charge, it is the Sheriff’s job to manage and lead by example. While I am sure that he has done many good things during his time as Sheriff, it seems as though he has lost control of his department.. Put him in charge of all law enforcement? I certainly hope not…..

    • Seriously? November 21, 2013 at 5:57 am #

      lifetime local: If the Sheriff’s Department is to be contracted for the City of Bishop, then it would be exactly that. There would be deputies assigned to the city limits and the deputies working the county would work that area. Where is the political vendettas and personal conflict with the Sheriff’s Department? I see them out there putting their lives on the line….what are you doing to sacrifice?

      • Desert Tortoise November 21, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

        That is not how it works in real life. Instead of voting my comments down, study the experience of the city of Tehachapi when they disestablished their police force and hired Kern County Sheriffs Dept. to patrol their city. It did not work for them and there are knowable, understandable reasons why this is so. Your police leadership is not answerable to your city, the deputies and lieutenants live elsewhere and are not available off hours or on weekends and the deputies who do not live in your city have no emotional or economic attachment to the city they police.

        Worse yet, experience teaches that sheriffs departments historically tend to offer a low initial price for their services, but ramp this price up over time, to the point where they often become more costly to the city than their former police force was. Ridgecrest has examined this in detali and rejected it. And a good thing too as recent events down there show us.

  3. Lesson Learned November 20, 2013 at 8:29 am #

    Actually, I think the legacy of the last 4 sheriffs of Mono County, current sheriff in particular would be an example of why you should do anything you possibly can to keep your current PD intact. The honesty and integrity that should be required to be sheriff of a county doesn’t seem to apply there. On the other side of that comment I have found Sheriff Lutze to display both those qualities and has done a fine job for Inyo County. He has also been serving for a long time now and I would worry about what you might possibly get when he retires. I wouldn’t wish on any county what Mono has to deal with.

  4. Big Rick OBrien November 19, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    Consider the crappola that goes on north of the Inyo County line and the fact that no one can do anything about it (at least until the next election) I’d bet $$$ there are many Bridgeport residents that wish they had a Chief of Police, INSTEAD of a …

  5. tim November 19, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    One big negative especially in the more rural counties, is that the Sheriff is elected from a small list of candidates and the quality of the overall agency can vary dramatically and nothing can be changed until the next election and then is still kneecapped by the lack of a wide pool to select from.

    By being a non-elected position, Chiefs are held accountable much more easily and can be recruited from a vastly wider pool, making the potential chance at high quality much much higher.

    I can tell you being a non-resident but very frequent visitor to both Mono and Inyo counties who has extensive law enforcement contacts, this is highlighted by the differences in quality between Mono Sheriff and the city’s of Mammoth and Bishop. Mono county has a reputation as being the equivalent of a good ol’ boys club that makes most LE agencies look amazing in comparison. Mammoth’s chief is well respected as is the Bishop Chief. I’ve never heard any good or bad about the Inyo Sheriff, which is actually a good thing since bad news tends to travel further than good.

    I would, however, recommend that they explore the combining of dispatch services. In fact, I would think it would be a great idea to consolidate the dispatch services for all local law enforcement in Mono and Inyo counties. Good dispatchers are tough to find. By consolidating you are likely going to be able to improve the quality and reduce the duplication of services like 911 systems, radio systems, computer aided dispatch systems and possibly records management systems.

  6. sugar magnolia November 19, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    Has Bishop ever considered expanding it’s city limits? Very few cities are only 1 square mile. Many people don’t even realize that the 3,500 population sign only means the small area that is actually incorporated.

    A logical City boundary might be Schober lane, Shepard Lane and Dixon Lane. Having a larger tax base and geographic area would give an economy of scale to the City. And having the City population 10,000 or more might attract some more development to the center of town where we kind of have blight.

    • Desert Tortoise November 19, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

      Bishop is 1.9 square miles in area with a 2010 census population of 3879. West Bishop has a 2010 census population of about 2600. I think you would have to draw the city limit of Bishop awfully large to encompass ten thousand people. The whole population of Inyo County is only 18,500 and is spread out from Pearsonville to Shoshone to Calvada on the Nevada border east of Death Valley up to the Mono county line. Metropolitan Bishop would have to extend all the way to Cartago and north up US-6 to the Nevada border.

      • Benett Kessler November 19, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

        Remember, most of the population is in northern Inyo. The generally accepted population of the Bishop area is 10,000. We’ll have to check the census on that.

        • Desert Tortoise November 20, 2013 at 10:45 am #

          Where? The only sizeable “Census Designated Place” or CPD north of Bishop is Dixon Lane-Meadow Creek with 2645 people as of the 2010 census. The rest of the CPDs have populations in the tens to the low hundreds.

  7. Desert Tortoise November 19, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    While the sheriffs department might this year or next offer a contract with a price that undercuts the cost to operate the Bishop PD, a real concern has to be what price the sheriffs department choosed to extract from Bishop several years from now when the Bishop PD has been disbanded for a period of time and restarting it would be expensive. Do not imagine for one second that a county agency would not try to extract every penny they can from a “customer” city.

    • Desert Tortoise November 20, 2013 at 10:06 am #

      By the way, this is the precise reason why the city of Tehachapi fired KCSD and re-established their police department again. They too once thought they would save money from the municipal budget by closing their PD and hiring Kern County Sheriffs Dept and chose to follow this path. It was a good deal for the first few years until Sheriff Youngblood started raising their rates. It does not help either that your Lieutanant, effectively your local chief of police, and many deputies all lived somewhere else and didn’t have a stake in the community they policed. Tehachapi didn’t keep KCSD very long before figuring out it wasn’t such a good deal and re-establishing their own PD again.

  8. Mr. NRA November 19, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    On way the city can save money is by stop using the Siren. That thing is not only a nuisance but is not needed in a this modern day of technology. Nobody likes being woken up in the middle of the night by a blaring siren and we don’t need to reminded that its 12pm everyday.

    • Benett Kessler November 19, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

      The 12pm sirens in our towns are a daily test. As a news person, I appreciate the sirens. They alert me to listen to the scanner to see if something critical is happening that needs to be reported. Not sure if the volunteers still need the siren, but it used to be a way of waking them up to respond.

      • Dingo November 19, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

        Since I don’t own a watch or a cell phone, I can appreciate the siren as well.

        Don’t look at me like that.

    • Con November 19, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

      The city won’t save anything by cutting the sirens. They don’t cost the city anything other than maintenance every couple of years.

  9. Mr. NRA November 19, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    Whatever happened with Symons? Did they ever pay up? Get a new contract, or are they just getting free services? The citizens of Bishop would life The Rest of the Story.

    • Benett Kessler November 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

      The City said payments of the past were resolved and a new contract is in the works.


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