The San Diego Sheriff’s Department will continue to oversee law enforcement in nine cities throughout the county, after Lemon Grove was the last to sign off on new five-year agreements.

Council members unanimously approved a larger budget during a public meeting last week. Santee extended its own agreement with the department earlier this month, and Del Mar, Encinitas, Imperial Beach, Poway, San Marcos, Solana Beach and Vista also approved new contracts, sheriff’s officials said.

“I am privileged to work with caring professionals who take pride in advancing our mission of providing quality public safety service,” Undersheriff Kelly Martinez said in a statement.

Every city’s support was unanimous, according to a department press release.

Lemon Grove leaders said the contract did not increase as much as previous agreements.

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“I’m grateful that you guys have given us something that’s more sustainable,” Mayor Pro Tem Jerry Jones told sheriff’s representatives.

Council members said they hoped more money could be spent on traffic enforcement. While the department has been able to pay a deputy part-time hours to focus on roads, there have not been funds for more.

The new contract will begin July and last through June 2027.

During the first two fiscal years the price will increase 1 percent, before rising 3.5 percent each year after.

That means the city will pay more than $6.5 million initially and more than $7.3 million by the end.

The agreement includes access to a helicopter, the East County Gang Task Force and a Psychiatric Emergency Response Team, known as PERT, among other services, according to City Manager Lydia Romero.

If a local deputy is sued, the county will pay for their defense, Romero said.

A full-time traffic deputy would cost the city $233,000, which would include salary, benefits, equipment and other expenses, the manager said.

Other council members praised Lemon Grove’s station.

Liana LeBaron said she was impressed with the professionalism she observed during a ride along last week. Mayor Racquel Vasquez said deputies “truly reflect the diversity of our city.”

Jones, who’s been in office nearly two decades, said previous contracts had increased between 4 and 6 percent, and one even rose in the double digits.

Public safety accounts for a large part of the city’s total budget, which is currently less than $17 million.

The department has overseen the city since 1977, when Lemon Grove was incorporated. The station is led by Lt. Pat McEvoy.

Crime rose overall last year, although violent crime was historically low, McEvoy previously reported.

Source: This post first appeared on sandiegouniontribune.com

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