Double Duty

The police departments in Del Rey Oaks and the airport are similar in size, but have different focuses: “We don’t typically patrol roadways,” says airport director Mike La Pier.

There may soon be a new police chief in Del Rey Oaks – though the city will share him with another police department.

On Aug. 22, Del Rey Oaks City Council authorized City Manager Dino Pick to enter into a contract with the Monterey Peninsula Airport District to share the services of Airport Police Chief Jeffrey Hoyne, a move that is expected to save Del Rey Oaks about $63,000 per year compared to hiring its own chief.

The airport board of directors will vote on the agreement Sept. 13, and Airport Executive Director Mike La Pier says the shift would save a comparable amount of money for them.

“We share borders we think we can capitalize on,” La Pier says, adding that future potential savings could come through sharing expenses for things like training and evidence lockers. “One of the things Chief Hoyne will be intimately involved in is helping to find those opportunities.”

For Del Rey Oaks, the new arrangement will be the next chapter in a tumultuous year that has seen City Hall beset by personnel upheaval, including in the police department.

Former city manager Daniel Dawson made a stormy departure when he resigned in January, and in the months that followed, the city lost two – and potentially three – police officers.

Former chief Ron Langford, along with officer David Olmos, retired in May, and Sgt. Bob Ingersoll was put on administrative leave in April pending the outcome of an investigation by the Monterey County District Attorney’s office. (The DA’s office has also made inquiries into actions by Dawson.)

To help right the ship, Del Rey Oaks brought in former Santa Cruz police chief Steve Belcher to act as interim chief. If the airport board approves the shared chief agreement, Hoyne will take over as chief for both departments on Oct. 2.

Belcher will stay on for another week after that to help with the transition, and says he’s been in steady communication with Hoyne since coming into the job in May, hoping to find ways the departments can work together. Sharing a chief, he says, is a start.

“I think it makes a lot of sense,” Belcher says.

It also might be part of more collaboration: During the first year of the contract – if it’s approved – Hoyne will study whether it would be mutually beneficial for the two departments to combine.

“We may look at the opportunity to merge if that makes sense,” La Pier says. “The first step is to share the chief’s services.

“We kind of view this as the relationship starter,” La Pier continues. “We’re looking forward to developing a stronger, more collaborative relationship with Del Rey Oaks.”

Seaside and Pacific Grove had a similar arrangement when Vicki Myers, now retired, served as police chief for both cities from 2012-15. While that agreement saved money for both cities, Myers’ tenure was rocky, and the police unions of each department gave her a vote of no confidence. (Both cities returned to having their own chief after Myers’ departure.)

Pick is bullish about DRO PD, and praises Belcher for spearheading collaboration. Belcher says the department has “a solid core,” and that “we’ve got some really good people here.”

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