Saturday, April 17, 2010

Let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater

And now for a counter viewpoint on the police contracting issue...

It's great that everyone is in support of our local police. Pomona PD does do more with less than any other police department east of the 605 freeway (El Monte PD, which laid off officers in 2009 following the decimation of their auto center, may be the closest situation to Pomona).

But, let's look at what is actually being proposed in Monday's staff report.

LASD representatives will prepare, free of charge, a Phase I law enforcement services evaluation for basic and additive services. However, should the Council pursue contracting with LASD for law enforcement services, a complete Phase ll Evaluation outlining a turn key transitional process would be required. Potential costs of a Phase I evaluation would be identified based upon information analyzed within Phase I. Additionally, payment for any costs associated with a Phase II evaluation may be deferred until the City either discards the contract option, or until it can be incorporated as a part of negotiations to engage Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department as the law enforcement agency for the City of Pomona.

I've never seen so many people oppose to basic information necessary for making sound decisions in my experience with government. Sure, there are vested interests for contracting, but there are interests everywhere. When reviewing the comparable numbers from other contract cities (page 10) it does appear that there could be savings achieved through contracting. What I would look for is something to bind the Sheriff's Department into an accurate Phase I estimate, such that the Phase II estimate doesn't incur additional costs on the city. In other words, the Phase I estimate should be as conservative.

Of course there are cons to contracting - loss of local control, liability without accountability, reduction in community identity. But the Sheriff's Department is a professional organization, and provides a wealth of resources. The recent merger of the Los Angeles County Safety Police has increased the Sheriff's headcount. Mutual aid is provided based on agreements which can be cancelled at any time, while the Sheriff's Department can draw upon their resources internally, without going through other agency's chain of commands. It is the responsibility of the City Council to evaluate the options available for public safety - contracting with LASD, creating a Joint Powers Authority with surrounding cities (like Tri-Cities Mental Health), or continuing with the existing police department structure. While it is the responsibility of all of us to make sure that the study and report is as fair and accurate as possible, it does not mean that all options shouldn't be on the table.

In any event, as it is a charter provision, voters will be asked to vote on it anyway in November 2010. If you are strongly in support of the Pomona PD, make sure you save some energy for that fight.


John Clifford said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Clifford said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Clifford said...


While I understand where you're coming from, my issue is more with where the council is coming from. They have had issues with our police department in the past which may explain their rush to look at "alternatives."

But WHAT reason is there for a study in the first place? Yes, the city's looking at a financial problem. Each year they have cut police services. Now they want to TAKE AWAY (item 12 on the agenda) the funding for a new police station and GIVE IT to the county for a fire station.

Have our fire needs exceeded our police needs?

Yes, this is a very early preliminary stage to evaluate replacement of the Pomona PD. But WHY is the issue. Are some in the community over-reacting? Perhaps, but I'd rather over-react now rather than give the impression that we'd be at all comfortable with such a planned replacement of our locally controlled PD.

There is a very good letter by Rob Baker of the Pomona Police Association in today's Bulletin (To read it, copy/paste this into your browser: discussing the issue.

John Clifford said...

Sorry for the deletes. Was trying to make link live but it was less than successful.

calwatch said...

John, you didn't read the full staff report. The new fire station is designed for CONSOLIDATING two existing fire stations, which eventually will save the City money. It is quite likely that the property for Fire Station 182 and 186, which would be consolidated under the new fire station, could be sold for the same amount that the City paid, if not more, thus making this a revenue-neutral proposition, at least in terms of the acquisition of land. When the station is actually built, there will be costs in construction, but the payback time is likely less than the amount of time that the existing fire stations would have to be upgraded.

I think that the public is overreacting. Unfortunately, the problem with the angry-mob type atmosphere that you see when hot button issues like immigration or the police come up is that it tends to shut down opposing viewpoints, and make them feel uncomfortable. But hopefully this will motivate those people, on both sides, to make their feelings known.

John Clifford said...


OK, I'll admit that I didn't read it as carefully as I probably should have. BUT . . . They are proposing to use the funding allocated for a new police station to purchase the property for the fire station. If the county consolidates, and the city ends up with the excess property. Is there a provision that the result of the sale goes back to the police station fund, or are the cops piss out of luck and it goes back into the city's general fund?

I did go back and read the entire report (33 pages) and see what you were referring to. However, there is nothing to indicate that consolidated stations would have a savings, nor what would happen to the funds that would result from a sale of any "excess property."

So my argument still stands that this is giving to the County Fire Department while taking away from the Pomona PD. It seems to be happening a lot. Just look at the 11th hour deal that was made on the last budget. Cops get cuts, Fire is left without any cuts.

Ed said...

Would Pomona be the first city of its size to shed their own police force in favor of the LA County Sheriff? I believe the only comparable cities currently being serviced have grown to that size in the last housing boom. Am I wrong?

I'm curious if Calwatch knows of any other city that is currently comtemplating the move to the LASD because of the economic downturn. Is a recession a valid reason to dump your police force or would downsizing offer a more reasonable (and reversible) choice?

Lastly, after taking a look at the FY 2009-10 budget that Calwatch linked, I'm not sure we are debating the right issue. The city appears to be grossly underperforming in sales and property tax revenue. Perhaps we should really be asking if the City Council should be rethinking its role on the Redevelopment Agency.

I really can't believe our city's representatives are so politically daft as to seriously be proponents of dumping the police department. If this is just a tool to bring the department to the bargaining table, I could understand, but if not and it's put on the ballot, I hope they aren't planning on winning their next election. Pomona is changing and too many people are watching.

John Clifford said...

Daft . . . I like that.

I guess we'll see at tonight's council meeting.

gilman said...

Calwatch, great observations. I know the issue of a phase 1 has now been decided and I personally feel it was a prudent decision.

That said, I would love your opinion on an issue. Is it possible, even probable, that the Council would contract with LASD for a wide range of police services such as administration, gang task force, investigations, traffic investigations, swat, etc. and still retain a small group of patrol officers would provide "primary" police services...thereby avoiding the issue coming up before voters?