Residents served by the Marina del Rey Sheriff’s Station recently mobilized to protest its closure by Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
“I find the Sheriff’s closing of the Marina del Rey station unacceptable,” said Florence Ochi of the Ladera Heights Civic Association. “The residents of Ladera Heights, View Park, Windsor Hills, Del Rey, as well as Marina del Rey, were blindsided by the Sheriff’s decision.”
“He did not have the courtesy of meeting with any of us to learn about our communities,” she added. “The closure of the station would destroy the respect and trust that has been built in all of our communities.”
The Sheriff decided to close the Marina del Rey and Altadena stations without any independent vetting by the Los Angeles County’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and without any input from the communities that would be impacted. In response, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Kathryn Barger, directing the Sheriff to halt the closures.
“The Sheriff must achieve the necessary cost savings and budget cuts needed to address the Department’s deficit and the County’s revenue shortfall in a more transparent, collaborative and democratic way without jeopardizing service to our communities,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. He criticized not only the lack of transparency in the decision to close the stations, but also the minimal cost savings it would bring.
Residents asked why the Marina del Rey station was singled out for closure when the County CEO presented the Sheriff’s Department with numerous other cost-saving measures. They also expressed concern about the lack of analysis into how the closure would impact public safety and community wellbeing, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As a lifelong resident of Windsor Hills, I feel that I speak for my neighbors when I express my displeasure and profound disappointment in the Marina del Rey Sheriff’s station closure,” Windsor Hills resident Toni Mc Donald-Tabor said. “We have always relied on Marina del Rey Sheriff’s station personnel to provide a timely response to our community’s public safety incidents, and we have enjoyed the effective impact of community-based policing. Closing the station will at the very least compromise this and, at worst, eliminate it.”
“We get very concerned any time funding for public safety becomes a battle. We believe that there are far better ways to achieve the budget reductions the Sheriff seeks without causing tragic public safety consequences in our communities,” added John W. Heath, President of the View Park United Homeowners’ Association. “If the Sheriff is seeking a 10% overall reduction in costs across all incorporated patrol areas, let’s make those reductions evenly across all stations instead of forcing our communities to disproportionately suffer from these reductions for a mere $16 million in annual savings.”
“Your on-the-ground perspective is invaluable and helps my office to be responsive to the Second District communities served by the Marina del Rey station,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas wrote in a letter to the residents who had advocated to keep the station.
In July, the Sheriff announced that the stations would no longer be closing.
“My office will continue to monitor this issue for any potential developments. As of now, my office is not aware of any indication from, or intention of the Sheriff to revisit this decision,” the Supervisor said of the success of the communities’ activism against the closure.
As COVID-19 continues to disproportionately impact communities of color, residents said increased investment in public safety is critical. They asked Sheriff Villanueva to value their input as constituents and impacted residents, and not close the station.
They also asked members of the public to voice opinions and concerns to the Sheriff directly at (800) 698-8255, or via the “Contact Us” form on his website at https://lasd.org/contact-us.
“Thank you again for your advocacy, which made a critical difference in keeping this station open,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.