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Living in San Carlos November 1, 2010

Farewell and Thank You, San Carlos Police Department.

by Chuck Gillooley

Changing of the Guard.

At 11:00 AM today on the steps of the old courthouse in Redwood City, the San Carlos Police Department will be sworn in as members of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department, thus officially closing the door on a department that has served the City of San Carlos for nearly 85 years and opening a new chapter in the City’s history.    San Carlos is battling a crippling budget deficit which has forced the City Council to outsource park and rec maintenance and police services, and will very likely result in handing over fire services to an outside agency in the near future.

Update: Video of the Swearing in Ceremony

Below is a video of the San Carlos Police Department taking the Oath of Office this morning at the swearing in ceremony.

Time Will Tell.

San Carlos is the largest community on the Peninsula to turn to regionalization of critical public services such as police and fire.    And with other nearby communities struggling to close their own budget gaps, they may not be last.   But being the first at anything means blazing a trail through uncharted territory, and many surrounding communities will be putting San Carlos under the microscope to see how this new public service arrangement ultimately works out.

Despite the City Council’s nonstop spin that things will be “the same or better”, one thing is certain:  things will be different.  Not all 33 sworn officers will remain in the San Carlos Bureau of the Sheriff’s Department, which means some existing deputies will transfer over to the new San Carlos beat.  So there will be new faces to learn and new neighborhoods to patrol.    And while the 5-year contract with the County will result in an approximately $2M per year savings to the City of San Carlos, it’s important to remember that the County is also facing a massive and well-documented budget deficit of its own, and they will be looking for ways to close their own gap in the future.

One thing seems certain;  history will ultimately view this decision as either a brilliant, proactive shift in public service that is a byproduct of the “new economy” that all municipalities must face, or it will will go down as one of the biggest failures in the history of the City.      Because despite the many differences in opinion that have swirled around this topic, just about everyone agrees that once this path is chosen, there’s no turning back.   Only time will tell.

Thank You, and Welcome.

So to the dedicated professionals of the now defunct San Carlos Police Department, thank you for your unparalleled service to our community.   Despite being one of the lowest paid and understaffed groups in the Bay Area, San Carlos has always ranked as one of the safest communities to live in.    You were an integral part of this community for 85 years, and your legacy will not be forgotten.

And to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department, welcome to a great neighborhood.

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