LOMPOC, Calif. - Police officers in northern Santa Barbara County are dealing with a huge challenge, one that keeps them away from cities they patrol.
"The number one thing is the commute and leaving one or two bodies in the city,” said Officer Maria Negranti of the Guadalupe Police Department.
When officers like Negranti make an arrest they have to drive that person 75 miles to the Santa Barbara County Jail in Goleta to book them in.
She said all of this could take up to four hours
"In case of an emergency we cannot respond. We are far away," Negranti said.
This cuts down on the number of officers readily available to respond to calls and emergencies.
However, that soon could change.
"The ultimate goal is to help all communities be safe,” said Capt. Deanna Clement with the Lompoc Police Department.
A proposed idea set to go in front of the Lompoc City Council on Tuesday suggests opening up the Lompoc city jail to surrounding agencies when they arrest someone.
"In Lompoc city jail we can only hold them for 96 hours,” said Clement.
That means officers from the Santa Maria Police, Guadalupe Police, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, and California Highway Patrol could go there to book the person they arrest.
They would then stay in the jail until they see a judge.
"If we see we will be overcrowded we maintain the ability to shut down our jail,” said Clement.
Clement said on average the Lompoc city jail holds about 6 to 8 inmates a day.
The jail can house up to 23 people with 16 beds and a sobering cell.
Officer Negranti says if the deal goes through it’ll benefit everyone involved.
"In the case of an emergency we will get to respond quickly,” Negranti said.
The next step is for the Lompoc City Council to give their stamp of approval at Tuesday night's meeting.
If approved, Captain Clement said the deal could remain in place until the new county jail in Santa Maria is built in Spring 2019.