January 29, 2011 1:00 PM
Brooke Edwards

VICTORVILLE • It would cost Victorville $1.2 million to fill nine positions that have been left vacant with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Victorville station, according to a memo from Capt. Cliff Raynolds.

The City Council will discuss Tuesday whether they can come up with that $1.2 million, after Councilwoman Angela Valles pushed for a presentation on the subject.

“Government’s No. 1 job is public safety,” Valles said, frustrated that general fund money has gone to other non-vital projects such as failed power plants.

Seven deputy positions have been left vacant due to budget concerns as people have moved on from the Sheriff’s Department over the last couple of years. There is also one less detective and one less sheriff’s service specialist, who aids with tasks like processing crime scenes, taking reports and directing traffic at crime scenes.

Raynolds insists the reduction hasn’t meant any fewer deputies on the streets at any given time, thanks to officers working longer, overlapping shifts.

The captain also pointed to the fact that crime in Victorville dropped over the last year, in spite of fewer deputies. According to the latest statistics from the Victorville station, overall violent crime dropped 6.3 percent from 2009 to 2010. Only burglaries saw a slight uptick, with every other Part 1 crime dropping by 5 to 44 percent.

Only one city that contracts with San Bernardino County for law enforcement services — Rancho Cucamonga — budgeted to pay more than Victorville during the 2009-10 fiscal year. However, Rancho Cucamonga spent just 53 percent more for sheriff’s services than Victorville, though its population is nearly 60 percent larger.

Discussion about filling the Victorville positions is vaguely listed on Tuesday night’s agenda as a “Police department overview” by Raynolds.

Valles’ request to discuss removing the remaining 10 red light cameras will also be handled under that agenda item, City Clerk Carolee Bates confirmed.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall, 14343 Civic Drive in Victorville. A full agenda is available at city.victorville.ca.us, with an audio recording posted on that site after the meeting ends.

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Staff writer Beatriz E. Valenzuela contributed to this report.

Brooke Edwards may be reached at (760) 955-5358 or at bedwards@VVDailyPress.com.