“It’s a long way from Discovery Bay to Martinez,” said Burton, whose Delta Station beat includes Discovery Bay, Knightsen and Bethel Island. “And I think it would benefit the town for people to go down there (to the Board of Supervisors) and tell anyone that will listen that Discovery Bay is no longer a sleepy little town and that they need to be counted.
“Right now we’re maintaining the same level of service we always have, but we are definitely down to the bare bones.”
A single full-time deputy is currently assigned to Discovery Bay, augmented by a resource officer and the marine patrol – which also covers Knightsen and Bethel Island. Cutting any additional baseline services from an already minimal level of coverage, said Burton, is definitely cause for concern.
The good news, however – depending upon whom you ask – is the pending arrival of two new resident deputies paid for with Discovery Bay P-6 funds. The dollars, which have been accruing over the years from extra taxes paid by some communities in Discovery Bay West, are earmarked for enhanced police services. The plan to put the deputies on the street is awaiting approval from the county, and would be independent of the level of service the town currently receives.
In other words, the two new P-6 deputies could not be touched, even in the event the sheriff cuts the town’s current baseline of service.
But the specter of impending cuts has some residents worried that the guarantee of two new Discovery Bay deputies might make the decision to cut the current beat a little easier to swallow.
“I knew months ago that the sheriff would be coming under intense budget pressures, and the worry all along is that he could chop the base level with the ‘cover’ provided by the P-6 enhanced services,” said resident Bob Mankin. “The base level, by my best guesstimate, is at only 25 percent of FBI guidelines for unincorporated areas of the West. To even think of chopping that further in this unincorporated area is insane. It’s literally dangerous.”
Baseline coverage, insists Burton, will not be supplemented with P-6 dollars. “They (sheriff) can’t touch the P-6 (deputies),” he said. “From my perspective as an acting chief of police, that’s not going to happen. It’s not ethical or proper and it’s not the way we do business … There has not been, to my knowledge, any talk about ‘if they get one (P-6 deputy), then we’ll take one (resident deputy).’
“Whether or not Discovery Bay gets the resident deputies, whatever cuts are made will not be based on that. I’m just hoping that this issue (budget cuts) allows people to stand up and take notice. If there are any discretionary dollars out there, Discovery Bay should let their voices be heard.”
The sheriff’s budget, which will include Discovery Bay, is scheduled for discussion at the next Public Protection Committee meeting in Martinez. The committee usually meets on the second Tuesday of the month. For date and time confirmation, contact Supervisor Mary Piepho’s office at 925-240-7260.