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Cerritos City Council to Consider Severe Cutbacks to Sheriff’s Station, Cancellation of Sky Knight Helicopter Program

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Cerritos Sheriff’s Station and Community Center. City Council will consider severe cut-backs to the station on Thursday.

 

By Brian Hews

The Cerritos City Council will consider, at their regular meeting this Thursday February 9, to severely cut back the Cerritos Sheriff’s Station and Community Center and also the eliminate the Sky Knight Helicopter program which will, according to a report, increase response times and hamper other safety features provided to Cerritos residents.

Current Sheriff’s Captain Joseph Nunez and Public Safety Manager Daryl Evans will present their findings after their exhaustive study looked at several iterations of altering the operations of the station and the helicopter program.

The staff/study report was ordered by Council in October of 2016 to be presented sometime in Feb. 2017 for proper consideration.

But Councilwoman Carol Chen, at a meeting only two weeks later, demanded to look at the contract and the closing of the station and elimination of the helicopter program before the staff report was published.

Chen was subsequently slammed by Mayor Ray and Council members Pulido and Edwards for her outburst, each of them noting that one of Chen’s major campaign pledges was to never cut back on pubic safety.

City Manger Art Gallucci also admonished Chen for failing to wait for the staff report to make a proper and informed decision.

Gallucci said,  “I don’t want to be argumentative but at the last meeting, the motion was made to study the budget and bring back proposed cuts in 2 months, that vote was 5-0 and we have it on tape, and that is the path we have been on until this evening.”

And Chen might now wished she would have waited for the report as the consequences of the cuts could outweigh the benefits.

The decision to eliminate Sky Knight was f airly straightforward, the program needs a 180 day notice to cancel the contract, which cost the City $21,000 per month, or $252,000 per year.

But the cancellation of the contract would force the City to use LASD, the only other option for helicopter patrol and emergency assistance, and substantially increase costs or severely cut the use of helicopter services.

LASD’s Aero Bureau costs $1,048 per hour, an analysis done by Nunez and Evans showed that if the City used LASD instead of Sky Knight for the same emergency and patrol services that occurred in August 2016, the bill to Cerritos would have been $40,823, over $19,000 more than the Sky Knight program.

Also, Lakewood would be the only city remaining utilizing the Sky Knight program and the City Manager has already indicated that the program is not sustainable with only Lakewood paying the fees.

It is worth noting that the LASD purchased two R-44 helicopters in 2015-’16 valued at $580,000 each. Then L.A. County Supervisor, and Cerritos resident Don Knabe, contributed $250,000 to the purchase. In August 2016, Cerritos, with Chen’s vote, contributed a one-time payment of $137,700 to the purchase.

 

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Robinson R-44 helicopter used by the Sky Knight program. The LASD purchased two new helicopters in 2015-’16. Then L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe contributed $250,000 to the purchase. In August 2016, Cerritos, with Carol Chen’s vote, contributed a one-time payment of $137,700 to the purchase.

 

 

It is unknown if the City can recoup the money used to purchase the helicopters.

Nunez and Evans then looked at the Cerritos Sheriff’s station structure and proposed additional cost cutting measures.

One proposal eliminates two supplemental “deputy-service-units” (DSU’s) without “significantly impacting the station’s policing model.” The cumulative savings for both motorcycle positions is $573,926.

But the eliminations come with consequences.

There were 851 traffic collisions reported in the City during 2016. Eliminating the DSU’s from the station’s traffic enforcement capabilities will negatively impact traffic safety.

Response times to traffic collisions will increase while traffic collision mitigation efforts will decrease.

Further, the DSU’s wrote 2,678 hazardous citations in 2016 generating $180,784 in revenue from court fines.

Another option offered in the report will convert the Cerritos Station into a “community station” saving $2,827,000 annually.

Currently, Cerritos pays nearly $13 million annually for a “full service” sheriff’s station.

The station is staffed with 72 positions including one Captain, four Lieutenants, eleven Sergeants, twenty-six field deputies, five Watch Deputies, three Traffic Motor Officers, eight Directed Patrol Deputies, five Detectives, two Custody Assistants, nine Law Enforcement Technicians, one Office Assistant, one Captain’s Secretary, one Supervising Station Clerk, and five Station Clerks.

Converting to a community station would eliminate 27 positions including the Captain, two Lieutenants, seven Sergeants, and five field deputies.

 

 

 

Once again, as with the elimination of the DSU’s, there are serious consequences to consider in converting to a community station.

The command and control will switch to the Lakewood station and all 9-1-1 calls will be routed there for response.

The Lakewood station is 5.1 miles from the center of Cerritos, a drive that takes twenty-one minutes on surface streets during periods of normal commuter traffic.

The Cerritos jail will close which will directly increase response times in the City.

The 2016 average response times for Cerritos deputies was 3.6 minutes for “Emergency response,” 6.8 minutes for “Priority response,” and 16.2 minutes for “Routine response.”

By way of comparison, the average response times for the City of Lakewood are: Emergency – 3.4 minutes, Priority 8.0 minutes, and Routine 38.2 minutes.

Deputies making arrests in Cerritos will have to transport all suspects to the Lakewood Station, a process that takes on average up to 90 minutes depending on the type of charge.

The community station will only receive routine service calls 10-hours-per-day. Calls received after the normally scheduled time will be forwarded to Lakewood Station.

The Lakewood Station dispatches calls based on priority and routine calls are processed in the order received.

The conversion to a community station will no doubt leave Cerritos with less patrol coverage and increased response times.

Additionally, even though it is called a community station, the location will lack a “community feel.” Residents wishing to speak with detectives, supervisors, or conduct other public safety related business would now have to drive to the Lakewood station.

Finally converting the Cerritos station would be irreversible under the current LASD contract cities policing model.

Similar to the SkyKnight program, the LASD would need 180 days notice. “Time is required to reassign personnel, develop new protocols, and modify radio/telephone communications equipment.”

HMG-CN reached out to Cerritos Mayor George Ray, Mayor pro tem Naresh Solanki, and Councilpersons Mark Pulido, Jim Edwards and Carol Chen.

Mayor Ray said, “I do not feel comfortable commenting prior to the item going before the city council.”

Councilwoman Carol Chen echoed Ray’s statement saying, “I don’t comment on agenda items coming before the council meeting.”

Councilman Pulido did not mince words saying, “I strongly oppose these cuts to the Cerritos Sheriff’s Station and Sky Knight. These are horrible cuts that will compromise the public safety of our community, our seniors, our families and our children.”

Solanki and Edwards did not comment at the time of publication.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Responses to Cerritos City Council to Consider Severe Cutbacks to Sheriff’s Station, Cancellation of Sky Knight Helicopter Program

  1. Paul NFullerton Reply

    March 11, 2017 at 8:07 am

    Cerritos resident 42 yr obviously does not what he talks about of the Cerritos/LASD relationship.

    The cost to place a deputy in a patrol car 24/7 has not been anywhere close to $200,000 for at least decades.

    Allowing for days off, vacation time, training etc it would require close to five deputies to staff that one car 24/7-365. In addition as part of that price is includes sargeants, watch commanders, dispatchers, cars and equipment. local jail and detectives that investigate the cases that Cerritos deputies generate.

    As to milking the city, all the extra bells and whistles that Cerritos Station enjoyed wenre done so at the request of your city council knowing what the costs would be upfront, still wanted a better level of service than other contract cities that shared resources.

    Up til recently Cerritos had no problem paying for it either, and was very likely the envy of most other cities in the area.

    I have no idea where anybody would have thought home alarms would be monitored at the station, because this is not done at any other Sheriff’s station or police agency in the area.

    And last, but not least, the home of Don Knabe was not under 24/7 protection and if it was it would have come out of the county general fund designated for Board of Supervisor operations and not from the Cerritos contract.

  2. Jonathan Davidson Reply

    March 7, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    I saw a young black kid ride his bike onto one of my Korean neighbor’s lawn who disappeared on the property. It was next door to our street’s neighborhood watch captain, so I knocked on his door and told his wife Marlene. She called the sheriff, and they wanted to know where the kid was, so I looked for him. I looked over the fence and saw the teenage black looking down the hallway through the kitchen window. I told Marlene and she told the sheriff. The sheriff wanted to know what the prowler was doing, so I called out to the guy and asked him what he was doing. I found myself confronting a young miscreant who was offended by me questioning him about anything. I think the sheriff wanted me to make an arrest myself, because they put me in a situation that could have gotten ugly if I had tried to stop that kid. I’m an old fat guy, and that youngster was going to become violent towards me, because the sheriff wanted me to answer their questions which could only be answered by the prowler himself. They told us that we had a priority as neighborhood watch members who were made aware of the fact that the sheriff feared an epidemic of residential burglaries was going to break out with a change in the law that reduced the punishment of offenders from a felony back to the misdemeanor it was. They told us what to look out for. How burglars determine that no one is home before breaking into a house. I knew that no one was home, and I knew the prowler was following the M.O. Of a burglar like it was protocol. Ring the bell, knock like a cop, look through windows and etc. we did what they told us to do at the watch meeting, and we called them when I observed the suspicious behavior. The sheriff did not do what they told us they would. i.e. Dispatch a patrol unit to confront the suspect immediately. They were supposed to have our back. Instead they showed up over an hour later and after the kid was long gone. I was able to deter that kid from his intended crime just by talking to him, and no crime was even committed. Even if the sheriff had responded, they could only question and release the suspect as he had not broken into the house when I confronted him. I wouldn’t mind participating in a community based safety program that doesn’t leave me in the wind when I call them for support.

  3. Cerritos Resident 42 Yrs Reply

    February 8, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    LETTER TO EDITOR

    Happy to see some of the sheriff’s ( SD) go away, least we are having the dialog. Proposed Community Safety Center, would be one way to reduce the out of control budget. SD administration would be via city of Lakewood.

    Let face it, policing PR is not good nationally. Even worse after the OC Sheriff jail case, ( Carona) and the multiple LA sheriff corruption cases of the head mgmt and abuse in jails. Plus we had the huge verdicts of police abuse judgements: King and Fullerton Transient cases. All of these cases undermine the PR and end up costing huge ups in E/O Ins Premiums.

    We had the enormous $6M SD judgment for the Cerritos baptismal party brawl, plus we are paying for E/O Ins for all of the crimes the SD is costing the countywide, we all are paying for this, via E/O Ins Premiums.

    SD were just bleeding the city, and this is been going on for quite a few years, we were only paying tribute to Knabe, since he was a former mayor, and lived in the city. We gave the Knabes, 24 hours Patrol every hour for their personal residence. They were just bleeding the city, and this is not a new topic. Knabe is out of office and we are having a healthy dialog.

    Hmmmmm, Budget: per ea. 24-hour Sheriff car shift, originally cost us around $200,000 per year, now it is billing out more than $1 million dollars per car, per year.

    City purchased Mopeds for SD patrol, for aprox $250K and all broke within 1 yr. All been trashed and buried. Waste of $$$.

    We do not need the police helicopter, we have a free helicopter service which is shared by all the cities by the sheriff’s department, we also have a fire department helicopter, plus we have a helicopter from the California Highway Patrol, and we also have Orange County helicopter.

    We are spending too much money on overnight parking restrictions, costing between $300K-$500,000 per year, and that has not gone to the public vote for since the late 1960s. The city has changed drastically on the parking.

    Our neighborhood watch is not very good, because many do not want to get involved. If Cerritos trimmed more trees, we would be able to see up and down the streets better at night time. Like to see more money in budget for Neighborhood watch programs. Volunteer on Wheels patrol, another waste. Volunteers loose all of their priv. Ins if they are hurt on patrol, so who in their right mind would want to loose 100% of their personal insurance to volunteer.

    1990s/ when SD was approved for Cer substation, promised to have free burglar alarm monitor station free, and that has not happened.
    • Why do we need sheriff’s jail, gyms, etc?
    • Why do we need 3 Captains, per 24 hrs, costing more then $1M per yr?
    • Look at all of the over time the SD is charging?
    • Why do we need a $300K RV Sheriff bus, which is just rotting away?
    • Look at all of the MVA in the city and SD is dispatching for non sense fender benders?
    • Why do we need to patrol marijuana , vapors and cigarettes, we are just creating nanny laws for who, where does this all stop?
    • Why do we need party ordinances, when the SD have to pay more personnel to patrol parties?
    • Why does the city partially subsidize the motorcycle sheriffs for the cycle and down time?
    • Why are the tax payers paying for their SD employees retirement, when the private business employees pay for their own retirement?
    • Why was this presentation done by the Sheriffs, isn’t this a conflict of interest, recommending their own SD?

    Like to see placard parking 24/7 our streets. In order to park on the streets, residents would have to display a placard which they obtained by the city. If the placard was not placed on the car and the car was parked on the street, said car would be towed away at the owner’s expense. This would stop all residential robberies real fast. We have too many streets, cars parking in the street, and with the very diluted………..Neighborhood Watch program……., nobody is patrolling these cars, which could be used for transportation for burglaries.

    Understand it, we don’t need the jails anymore, because most of the crimes committed do not involve jail time, they only involve a citation. Almost 75-80% of our Sheriff budget is going to the 2-3 malls in the city, and they are not paying one penny towards it. Before the recession hit, the Los Cerritos Mall had a small sheriff’s sub office , which was partially paid by the mall, but since the mall has been partially sold to the Chinese, they have vacated the substation, and now we have no substation at the Cerritos Mall.

    Then we have the county line issues, LA does not work w/ OC Policing, so we are blessed with that handicap. Unions do not get along between county lines, so we in return pay for this abuse by unions.

    N. Cerritos street light district is being paid by residents, for this commercial strip. Why cant the commercial users pay for their own street lights, so the budget could allow for sheriffs budget & not street lights?.

    Add city assessment tax to all SD tickets in 90703 to go to public works.

    Many MVA could be prevented, the city has not been good landlord in removing trees and shrubs which are blocking site patterns for MV flow.

    Newest results for city sponsored questionnaire, plus aprx 500+ write in responses. Most are not happy with the way the city council is running the city.

    www.cerritos.us/_pdfs/surveyresults_012617.pdf

    This is good and healthy dialog, to cure a bleeding system.

    9B Review and consideration of a proposed reduction in contract law enforcement services – Sky Knight Helicopter Program (COUNCIL).
    Agenda Report
    9C. Review and consideration of a proposed reduction in contract law enforcement services – converting Cerritos Station into a “community” station (COUNCIL).
    Agenda Report

    www.loscerritosnews.net/2017/02/08/cerritos-city-council-to-consider-severe-cutbacks-to-sheriffs-station-cancellation-of-sky-knight-helicopter-program/

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