UPDATE: Broadmoor’s police commission will discuss filing for municipal bankruptcy in a special meeting on Thursday, Aug. 17.
The police department for the small neighborhood of Broadmoor, an unincorporated part of San Mateo County, is discussing its own dissolution due to financial troubles. If that happens, the county sheriff’s department will begin responding to emergency calls in the area.
Asked whether his department was folding, Chief Michael Connolly was vague. “Not necessarily,” he wrote in a message. “But we are in discussions with the County of San Mateo and the San Mateo Sheriff’s Department.”
Although the department has seen a succession of scandals — including one involving Connolly himself — the potential death knell of the 75-year-old department may stem from poor spending practices.
“Financially, I guess they’re teetering on the brink,” said San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, who has investigated misconduct at the department. “A district that lives on a shoestring anyway, I’m sure there’s no leeway for bad spending.”
Since 1948, the Broadmoor Police Protection District has provided police services to a half-square-mile area that includes Broadmoor Village and nearby blocks; the area is entirely encircled by Daly City. The department’s latest budget, for more than $3.3 million, included funding for eight full-time officers. Funding comes from residents’ property taxes and a parcel tax.
A special study released by a San Mateo County commission in November 2022 warned of the department’s budget deficits over several years, and its poor accounting practices.
“The lack of long-term fiscal plans, budget deficits, and growing costs to the District may negatively impact service delivery,” the report read. It went on to recommend consolidating services, or sharing its costs with nearby districts.
Now, it appears that consolidation may be imminent, and the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department could take over police operations in the neighborhood. Broadmoor’s Property Owners Association will discuss the possibility at its meeting this week.
The sheriff’s department could not be reached for comment.
District Supervisor David Canepa, who represents the residents of Broadmoor, said that in the event of the police department’s collapse, 911 calls would still be answered.
“We’re hoping that we don’t have to do this, but considering their financial position, we have to prepare, because we can’t let the residents not have any public safety or police services,” Canepa said. “If they go through this death spiral, or if they close tomorrow … we’re ready to pick up right now.”
Canepa added that it would be a financial burden for the sheriff, and he hopes that the department can resolve its issues.
“It’s on the [police commission], and it’s on the chief,” Canepa said. “And it’s really incumbent that they’re able to figure this out.”
Wagstaffe prosecuted Connolly, Broadmoor’s police chief, for a conflict of interest in 2021. Connolly, who previously headed the San Francisco Police Department’s “Principled Policing Bureau,” illegally installed himself as chief in 2019, and voted on his own future salary when he sat on the Broadmoor civilian police commission. He got a small fine and a year of probation.
In January, after Connolly’s probationary period was up, the commission drew attention again by reinstating him as police chief.
The state retirement fund, CalPERS, audited the department and alleged that three other ex-chiefs — including another retired SFPD veteran, Arthur Stellini — defrauded the pension system over several years, taking full-time compensation while receiving retirement, or taking large lump-sum payments.
Wagstaffe charged one of those chiefs, Gregory Love, with felony grand theft, and said he would have charged another, David Parenti, but could not, due to a lapsed statute of limitations.
This is a developing story and may be updated.