Editor's note: The original version of this story inaccurately reported that a closed session city council meeting was scheduled to be held on July 9. The meeting was scheduled for July 11, and held on that day. We apologize for this reporting error.
For months, Pacifica's city councilmembers have viewed the idea of outsourcing police services in purely conceptual terms.
On Wednesday, they're expected to finally see some hard numbers.
A consulting group commissioned by the city to project the budgetary impact of outsourcing municipally controlled law enforcement services to the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department will report to the council in closed session at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.
The meeting proceeds an open session scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
"I expect that we'll probably see some numbers," Mayor Pete DeJarnatt told Patch.
In addition to evaluating monetary projections of police outsourcing, the consultants project the cost of transitioning to county-run policing will cost - and the cost of returning the police department if a future council is not satisfied with the sheriff department's work, DeJarnatt said.
The council will be on its own in evaluating whether the services the sheriff's department can provide are comparable to what Pacifica already has.
"We didn't ask (the consultants) for that and I don't that's something they could effectively do," DeJarnatt said.
DeJarnatt, who's already on the record opposing police outsourcing, said tonight's closed session will mark the first time councilmembers will have a sense of whether the idea has political legs. Although the idea has come up in previous closed sessions, DeJarnatt said he hasn't yet gotten a good read on whether his colleagues support the idea.
That figures to change once the projected numbers come in.
"I think we'll certainly have a better sense of how we feel, but I don't expect us to have a consensus," DeJarnatt said.
DeJarnatt acknowledged that temptation of outsourcing law enforcement services may be hard to resist. Pacifica, like most municipalities statewide, faces a significant structural deficit.
Patch earlier this year cited unnamed sources with knowledge of the proposal in a report projecting outsourcing could save Pacifica up to annually.
"I recognize that it would probably save us a fair amount of money but I'm wary of any plan that's supposed to save us a lot of money," DeJarnatt said.
Pacifica will get what it pays for should the city opt for critical public safety functions on the cheap, DeJarnatt said.
Although officials in San Carlos and Millbrae have reported millions in projected budgetary savings implementing similar proposals, DeJarnatt questions whether a county agency could adequately serve a city that is more geographically isolated than the more central Peninsula cities.
He said the rapport a locally controlled agency provide is essential to crime prevention.
"That rapport and trust is part of it, and that rapport is hard to develop and it's not easily replaced," he said.
"(Pacifica police) know the area better and I think they're going to do a better job than the sheriff's department would."
DeJarnatt also questions whether projected savings would be realized. He said projected savings from a program the city implemented last decade to outsource paramedics never fully materialized.
"I'm a little leery about proposals and how rosy the projections sometimes sound," he said. "I think sometimes when all is said and done, they don't save" as much as you'd think.
It is not clear whether DeJarnatt, who completes his last term on the council later this year, will actually have a vote on the proposal.
He said the proposal faces political resistance, noting that his constituents have indicated no appetite for outsourcing police services.
But DeJarnatt said he's committed to keeping an open mind.
"I've changed my mind before," he said. "I don't think that will happen with me because I have fairly strong convictions about this, but I think we'll have a clearer idea of what it means after this meeting."