How would this be handled? (California police question)

In the book I am writing, I’ve invented a fictional area, called the Crystal Valley, in central California when the action of the story takes place – basically a valley, surrounded by small mountains, encompassing five small muncipalities, ranging in size from about 550 residents to 10,000 residents, for a total of about 17,000 people in the whole valley (Santa Lucia, the 10,000-population city, is, obviously, the largest of the five by far).

Now, where I live (Connecticut), if a town is too small to have its own cops, the state police cover the day-to-day police duties for that town (speed traps, crime calls, investigations, all that) from the closest barracks (there are about 10 barracks in the state, each with their own territories) and sometimes will place one or two resident troopers in the town itself to hold office hours and allow people to come in person and file theft complaints and stuff.

How is a situation like this handled in California? Would there just be a Santa Lucia Police Department that would cover the other four towns too? Would there be some sort of county-style “Crystal Valley Police Department” that would be headquarted in one of the towns and cover them all? Would none of them have their own cops at all, and instead be covered by the police from Angstrom, the comparatively large city of 40,000 people on the other side of the mountains? Would the CHP cover them and put resident troopers in, like it is in Connecticut?

I tried googling about for this and didn’t find much I could go on. Any help would be appreciated!

IIRC, the California Highway Patrol sometimes provides local policing services. County Sheriff’s Departments do the same.

I grew up in a norcal valley town with 4000 people. It was the biggest town in the county and the county seat. We had our own PD

I grew up in a small Southern California City. Initially the city was covered by the State Troupers as per its previous unincorporated status. They then formed their own police department which lasted a decade or so, but it was so inefficient and borderline corrupt that the city then ‘bought in’ its policing from the neighboring large metropolis.

We don’t call them barracks here in California.
Usually if the town is small enough it will use county sheriffs. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any town in California where the CHP does all the policing (domestics, murder, rape etc) but I could be wrong.

Checking the history of the city I see that it was County Sheriffs, not State Troupers who provided policing between 1956 (and before as an unincorporated residential area) and 1969.

Right. Same in Michigan.

Some of the smaller suburbs around San Jose use Santa Clara County sheriffs, like Saratoga. Some, like Campbell, have their own PD’s (as does San Jose).
Since it’s a fictional place, you could set it up however you like, but I’d recommend against using the CHP as anything other than outside help, not daily enforcement.

Here in the Antelope Valley we have approximately 250,000 people (between Lancaster and Palmdale) and no local police force. We use LA County Sheriff services. CHP only patrols the highways.

From an unincorporated area point of view - My “town” near San Francisco isn’t an actual city and has no government of its own. Policing is done by whoever’s in the area. I’ve seen both county sheriffs and CHP writing traffic tickets and similar “daily enforcement” tasks, and once, when our home alarm decided to go bonkers, (It spontaneously called the central office with a panic message and didn’t release the phone line so the alarm company could call us) two CHP cruisers showed up.

My understanding is that the CHP gets the 911 calls from unicorporated areas and all cell phones, and they seem to dispatch whoever answers the radio call first once they’ve identified where help is needed.

I should also point out:
There are no juristiction limits in California. AFAIK, any “Peace Officer” can enforce state laws anywhere in the state. There may be restrictions regarding local laws and, perhaps, Federal land.

Okay…seems like I should make up a fictional county for the valley to be in and then use county sheriffs, then.

Thanks guys :slight_smile:

Same here. I grew up in a small town with no PD. County Sheriffs responded to calls.

My small city in California contracts with the county sheriff to operate a city police force – they have cars, a building, and uniforms all with [city] Police Department, but it’s all run by sheriff’s deputies wearing two hats.

Good point - in a pinch, the transit cops at the commuter train station (BART) a mile down the road could just as easily come to our aid as their jurisdiction does include the entire state and has no legislative limitations.

Realistically, I’d expect a troop of Boy Scouts to be sent over before BART Police would stray more than 50 feet from the train tracks.

So true. So…true.