MOUNTAIN HOUSE (CBS13) — The community of Mountain House just hired a private security patrol after sheriff’s deputies were relocated to other parts of San Joaquin County.
The sheriff said this comes amid a budget crunch. Mountain House is an unincorporated area outside Tracy, it had just 9,000 residents in 2010, but this year there are 22,000 with 2,000 more coming each year.
“Although we do have a low crime rate, there’s a reason because we had that many deputies,” Daniel Harrison said.
Harrison is president of the board which oversees Mountain House. He was furious when the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office pulled resources in August, going from eight deputies down to two. The board immediately hired two private security patrol officers.
“I didn’t think Mountain House should have been used as a pawn for his (the sheriff’s) agenda with the board of supervisors getting deputies their raise,” Harrison said.
Andrea Lopez, a spokesperson for the sheriff, said the issue is that the office is “very understaffed right now and doing the best we can in all areas of the county.”
The sheriff’s office said it’s constantly assessing calls for service and moving staffing around to keep residents safe, and that the two deputies in Mountain House have backup.
“They are also receiving additional services, we do have a Tracy deputy that can assist at times. We can also pull from other resources from our south Stockton car and our Manteca unit as well,” Lopez said.
The sheriff would like to eventually reinstate deputies to Mountain House, but couldn’t give a timetable. Some residents understand the decision.
“I feel Mountain House is pretty secure. I feel there’s other places where they are needed,” Ricardo Rhodes said.
Elected leaders in Mountain House worry about response times and say with the way they are growing, they can’t wait. They are considering hiring more private patrols.
“We have to have police that have police powers. Because even though we have private security. If there is a crime or an arrest-they still have to call the sheriff’s office,” Harrison said.
In a week there will be a board meeting in Mountain House where they will consider extending the contract of the private patrol. Because it was done in an emergency format, their contract is just for one month.
Officials said two private patrols cost $30,000 a month while two deputies cost $40,000 a month.