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Cerritos Councilman Barrows Targets Closure of Cerritos Sheriff’s Station Again

 

 

BY BRIAN HEWS  February 20. 2021

There’s an old saying in local politics, to get things done all you have to do is count to three.

With the appointment of Bruce Barrows, which, in this paper’s opinion was a Brown Act violation, Solanki has three votes and is closer to his dream (and Solanki’s) of shuttering the Cerritos Sheriff’s Station to balance an already balanced budget.

Just listen to the Feb. 11 City Council meeting during the 2019-’20 financial performance review of the city, which, on an accrual basis showed a $2 million gain in the General Fund, but a “government-wide” loss of $4.7 million, which includes depreciation.

Not bad during a pandemic where the city took a huge hit on revenues and program fees.

At 59:12 of the meeting, waiting until after public comment was closed to avoid scrutiny, Barrows commented on the $4.7 million dollar loss and fired a big shot across the bow of the Sheriff’s Department.

“One of the largest increases we have was the sheriff’s department,” Barrows stated

“We were talking to other cities and discussing other options for us. The problem I have is we’ve had numerous discussions about the sheriff’s over the years and how we should give the city options if the county has been doing exactly what they are doing now, raising rates.”

“They are using Cerritos as a cash cow to cover their mistakes and largess they spend, I would hope we look at the sheriff’s during the budget process.”

Barrows then repeated the financial dream that was his, and Carol Chen, and now Mayor Solanki’s, to close the Cerritos Sheriff’s Station.

“We can’t afford to have increases every year with nothing to show for it.”

Don’t know what the “nothing to show for a comment” entails, Cerritos is one of the safest cities in the area, and response times are lower with a station in the city; the city has very active neighborhood watch groups and posts crime reports every week online.

In addition, the Cerritos Sheriff’s cut $450,000 for the year ‘19-‘20 when a deputy was assigned to another station.

But this is Bruce being Bruce as his detractors say, in 2012 he attempted to hold back his vote to fund the SkyKnight helicopter used by the city because he was mad at yours truly for an article about his fight with gadfly Jay Gray. He denied everything, but the fact remains there was arbitration hearing with the D.A.

The city cut all advertising with Cerritos News and Barrows voted for SkyKnight.

Barrows does not need to look far to find a study outlining the ramifications of modifying the Sheriff’s station

In 2017, with Chen and Solanki on the council pushing to close the station, then Sheriff’s Captain Joseph Nunez and Public Safety Manager Daryl Evans presented their findings that looked at cutting the station and helicopter program.

At the end, the cuts outweighed the benefits.

The study showed the cancellation of the SkyKnight contract would force the City to use the LASD for helicopter service, and substantially increase costs or severely cut the use of helicopter services.

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

One proposal eliminated 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 came with consequences.

There were 851 traffic collisions reported in the City in 2016. Eliminating the DSU’s would increase response times to traffic collisions and reduce mitigation efforts.

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

And the City is currently grappling with truck traffic on Bloomfield/Shoemaker/166 St.

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

Currently, Cerritos pays over $15 million annually for a “full service” sheriff’s station.

The station is staffed with 72 positions, 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 were serious consequences in converting to a community station.

The command and control would switch to the Lakewood station and all 9-1-1 calls would 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 community station would only receive routine service calls 10-hours-per-day. Calls received after the normally scheduled time would be forwarded to Lakewood Station.

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

The Cerritos jail would close, deputies making arrests in Cerritos would 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 2016 average response times for Cerritos and Lakewood deputies in 2016 was 3.6 (Lakewood 3.4) minutes for “Emergency response,” 6.8 (8.0) minutes for “Priority response,” and 16.2 (38.2) minutes for “Routine response.”

Additionally, even though it is called a community station, the location would lack a “community feel.” Residents wishing to speak with detectives 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.

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

No matter to Barrows, his view is “the sheriffs are using Cerritos as a cash cow to cover their mistakes and largess they spend.”

“I would hope we look at the sheriff’s during the budget process.”

So Cerritos residents, you can look forward to a likely vote by Solanki, Vo (who is a Toraance cop), and Barrows to finally realize their dream of closing the sheriff’s station.

You only have to count to three in local city politics.

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