At the city of Pomona's request, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department has completed a preliminary study on the cost of taking over police services. The ultimate decision — if it comes to that — would be left to the voters, possibly as early as this fall.

Pomona, with a population of more than 155,000, would be the largest city in the county to turn to the Sheriff's Department to save money. Hiring deputies could save the city millions — and chip away at a $14.2-million deficit.

Pomona is hardly the first L.A. County city to look at disbanding its police department. Tiny Sierra Madre considered doing away with its force, but ultimately rejected the idea. Maywood pulled the plug on its police force and virtually every other City Hall job earlier this month. Cudahy, which had been policed by Maywood, is now patrolled by sheriff's deputies.

The city has an operating budget of about $90 million, half of which goes to the Police Department.

"The fact that Pomona, which has a long-standing Police Department, has approached us is pretty interesting," Sheriff's Capt. Bruce Fogarty said. "I wouldn't be surprised to hear from other cities in these economic times."

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