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Calif. tribe to pay for extra police patrolsThe

The cost of the three-year contract comes to about $3 million By Paul Larocco The Press Enterprise August 20, 2010

San Bernardino — For much of the past six years, San Bernardino police used state-managed funds to provide extra patrols to neighborhoods around San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino.

When the money dried up in July, the department was prepared to go back to normal: basic beat services without a guarantee that special traffic or crime concerns could get immediate, focused attention. That's when the tribe stepped up.

The result is a new three-year agreement for the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians to fund six San Bernardino police officers and a sergeant for a special district in the city's northeast end, near the casino. The cost for the length of the contract comes to about $3 million.

"The tribe was in no way obligated to continue this," tribal Chairman James Ramos said Wednesday in announcing the pact. "But we saw a genuine concern."

Officers will be assigned to mostly residential pockets bounded by Piedmont Drive to the north, Highland Avenue to the south, Orange Street to the east, and Sterling Avenue to the west. The casino's parking lot also falls under San Bernardino police jurisdiction.

As has been the case previously, San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies will continue providing law enforcement services inside the casino and on other tribal land.

"It's about sharing resources," said San Bernardino Police Chief Keith Kilmer. "From a public-safety perspective, this just makes so much sense."

Previously, areas surrounding Indian casinos in California were provided extra police through the Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund. That began to be phased out in 2007, though San Bernardino was able to extend its use of the funds through last fiscal year.

Peggi Hazlett, an assistant to San Bernardino Mayor Patrick Morris, said no one wanted a return to the days when extra resources were not readily available.

Before the officers were added, Hazlett said residents complained of prostitution, drug use and public urination in neighborhoods around the casino - not to mention major traffic problems.

"There is definitely a need for that extra presence," she said.

The roughly $1 million per year from the tribe will pay for officer salaries as well as vehicles and other equipment. Crossing guards will also be provided near area schools.

"They know it's not just about the dollar signs," Ramos said of city leaders. "They understand the culture as well."

 


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