Rains Lucia Stern, PC
A recent Attorney General Opinion (11-204) concluded that state law does not require community services districts to engage in competitive bidding or solicit proposals from multiple parties prior to contracting with a county sheriff or other local agency to provide law enforcement services within the district’s boundaries.
The Attorney General Opinion further concluded that a community services district that has received approval from a Local Agency Formation Commission to provide law enforcement services within its boundaries may contract with the county or another local public agency in order to have the county sheriff or other local agency police department provide those services.
Community services districts are local entities that consist of unincorporated territories and operate in much the same way as municipalities. Under the Community Services District Law, districts are statutorily authorized to provide police protection services, and may do so by contracting with the county or another local agency to provide law enforcement services within the district’s boundaries.
Further, there is no statutory requirement mandating that a community services district engage in competitive bidding before contracting with another public agency. Therefore, a community services district does not have to obtain competitive bids or solicit proposals from multiple parties prior to contracting with a local agency to provide the district’s law enforcement services.
Essentially this decision means that local governments who seek to contract out their police services will not need to go to the lowest-bidder. In practice, this may not mean very much, as generally local governments—especially given the current economic climate—will seek to use the cheapest services possible. However, it does give those local governments the flexibility to choose from whatever law enforcement agency they believe can provide the best service for their community, regardless of whether that agency can offer the lowest price or not. For example, a town could choose to contract with a nearby larger city’s police agency or with the county’s sheriff’s department. With this decision, the town will be able to choose which agency is a better fit for their needs, regardless of which agency can make the lowest bid.