El Morro Policing Discussions
Update Regarding El Morro Policing Discussions
City and School District officials attended a PTA meeting at El Morro school on September 17, 2019 to discuss concerns about policing.City of Laguna Beach, City Manager-John Pietig, Oct 11, 2019 Media Release
Although the City responds to most 9-1-1 calls relating to the school, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department has formal responsibility for serving the school since it is in an unincorporated area of the County. In response to concerns from the meeting, the City has secured authorization from the Sheriff’s department to exercise police powers for all activities occurring at El Morro school. In furtherance of this authorization, the Laguna Beach Police Department (LBPD) has been directed to respond to all calls at El Morro school (as of October 3), and the City Council will have the ability to formalize this arrangement at its meeting on October 29. LBPD has also been directed to analyze how 9-1-1 calls are routed from land lines and cell phones with the goal of getting all such calls routed directly to LBPD dispatch.
The issue of possible annexation has also come up. In order for the City of Laguna Beach to annex the area encompassing El Morro school, it would need to also annex the state RV park and county open space to the City’s northern boundary. If the City is successful at ensuring 9-1-1 calls are routed to LBPD dispatch, and continues providing police services to El Morro school, annexation would have no bearing on policing services or the resources to provide such services. In addition, annexation is a lengthy process at significant taxpayer expense.
LBPD’s School Resource Officer (SRO) position was also discussed at the PTA meeting. The City provides the current SRO and covers annual costs in excess of $185,000 a year. I will be discussing options for the addition of a second SRO with the School District Superintendent, and I will provide an update to the City Council at its October 29 meeting.
A lot of progress has been made in the last month and more work is underway. Look for the next update at the October 29 City Council meeting.
John Pietig City Manager