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Sheriff Ayub responds to OVN editorial on policing contract

use for web Sheriff William Ayub
By Sheriff William Ayub
On March 12, the Ojai Valley News printed an editorial (“Demand equal treatment ‘under the law enforcement’”), in which it opined: 1) the city of Ojai has been supplementing county police resources, and 2) the cost of police services provided to the city should be reduced by almost half. 
The editorial attempted to support this opinion with factual information regarding police services; however, much of that information was inaccurate and several key components to police contracting were absent. After reading the editorial, I was left feeling the people of Ojai deserve a better explanation from the Sheriff’s Office regarding what I believe are the realities of contract policing.  
The Sheriff’s Office provides contract police services to five cities within the county, as well as the unincorporated areas. Each contract city is an independent municipality. Each municipality has the responsibility to provide certain services to its residents, including policing.  
Whenever government bodies share resources and eliminate duplicative efforts and costs, it makes for more effective and efficient government. Policing is a complex and multilayered effort. As a customer of the Sheriff’s Office, the city of Ojai shares costs associated with policing necessities such as: a dispatch center, records, liability coverage, ongoing deputy training, a six-month training academy, hiring and required background checks, human resources, information technology, and many others. 
Each of these is a separate, but mandatory support function, the cost of which would be borne in its entirety by the city if it did not contract. 
The city of Ojai further benefits from cost sharing associated with its station personnel. Since both city and unincorporated patrol deputies work from a station located in Ojai, the city is able to share the cost of supervision, management and equipment. For example, a sheriff’s captain serves as the chief of police in the city. The city pays only a portion of the position’s cost. It also pays for only a portion of a single property-crimes detective and shares the cost of the patrol sergeants, thereby relieving it of the need to provide full-time supervision in the city. Moreover, should the need arise, the city has access to specialized resources such as trained traffic investigators, sexual assault, or human trafficking investigators, to name a few.  
The staffing level for the city of Ojai has fluctuated little over the last 41 years; minimum staffing consists of two patrol deputies in the city. It has been suggested that I reduce those minimum staffing levels even further. I simply cannot assign a single deputy to the city without unduly impacting the public’s and deputies’ safety. The idea that deputies assigned to the unincorporated areas will, as a matter of practice, provide the necessary back-up or even cover city calls for service if the city deputy is tied up with an arrest, a significant investigation, or any other reason is unreasonable. 
Although the OVN made much of the issue of per-capita cost, there was no consideration given to the impact of tourism. Recent estimates suggest Ojai receives more than 850,000 tourists annually. The Sheriff’s Office does not base our contract policing model on per-capita costs, but this substantial influx of people does have an effect on workload, response times, and the minimum level of personnel needed to safely deal with issues as they arise. Especially during peak times, tourism substantially increases the population of the city. 
There are three deputies per shift assigned to work in the unincorporated areas. These three deputies cover a vast geographical area, ranging from the Summit, to Rose Valley, to upper Ventura Avenue, to the westernmost portion of Highway 150 near the Santa Barbara County line. I have an obligation to provide quality policing to the residents of the unincorporated communities in the Ojai Valley and I have no intention of cutting staffing levels in those areas. To expect these unincorporated resources to regularly supplant city policing efforts is unfair to unincorporated residents and is inconsistent with the expectation that cities assume the responsibility of policing their own jurisdictions.   
The OVN asserted in its editorial, “The sheriff doesn’t keep records of total crime, arrests or calls in the Ojai Valley Service area.” This is inaccurate. In 2020, the city of Ojai generated 42% of the calls for service in the Ojai Valley and was responsible for 39% of the reported crime.
The editorial also expressed concern regarding the frequency of deputies assigned to the city assisting in the unincorporated areas. The ability for city and unincorporated deputies to help each other during incidents is a true benefit of contract policing, thereby better ensuring adequate resources are available. This works to the benefit of both the city and county. In the last two years, more city calls were handled by unincorporated deputies than unincorporated calls handled by city deputies. 
More information related to the Ojai police services agreement can be found at the following link: https://www.venturasheriff.org/public-resources/reports/  
Public safety is my No. 1 priority. That is my duty and I take it seriously. The men and women of the Sheriff’s Office who comprise the Ojai Police Department take great pride in providing excellent service to Ojai’s residents, visitors and businesses. It is our goal to help keep Ojai an idyllic place in which to live, work and play. 
— William Ayub is the Ventura County sheriff.

Ojai Valley News’ editorial response to Sheriff Ayub’s Op-Ed:
Why does Sheriff William Ayub believe that the city of Ojai should pay the equivalent to a city twice its size, with twice the crime rate, and 10 times the violent crime (Fillmore)?
Sheriff Ayub proves our argument that the city of Ojai is subsidizing the county when he states that the city of Ojai is “responsible for 39% of the reported crime” in the Ojai Valley, when it pays 50% of most of the costs. These subsidies must be addressed by the sheriff, the Ojai City Council and the Ventura County Board of Supervisors.
Despite repeated requests, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office has not provided the data requested by the Ojai Valley News or by the city of Ojai to break out statistics for the city of Ojai as compared to the Ojai Station jurisdiction area of 30,000 people. Neither has the sheriff shared data related to calls for service inside the city compared with the Ojai station jurisdiction area.
The graphs and arguments presented by the Ventura County Sheriff's Office are based upon a portion of the data, making its graphs and arguments irrelevant. To date, the OVN and the city have not been given access to this vital data.

 

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