The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to direct the Sheriff to immediately cease efforts to close the Altadena and Marina del Rey stations, as recently announced by the Sheriff’s Department. These closures were announced without any independent vetting or validation by the County’s Chief Executive Office, or advance notice or input to impacted communities.
The motion by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Kathryn Barger also directs the Sheriff, in consultation with the Chief Executive Officer and Auditor-Controller, to identify appropriate budget curtailments that are properly vetted and will have limited impact on public safety.
The motion follows the Sheriff’s abrupt and unilateral announcement on May 4, 2020 of plans to close the Altadena and Marina del Rey stations. Questions remain about how and why the station closures were selected and what cost savings may be achieved.
“These station closures were announced without any vetting or advance notice, validation of cost savings, or assessment of impact on public safety. As a result, our communities are rightly concerned – as is this Board,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “The Sheriff must achieve the necessary cost savings and budget curtailments 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.”
“The public safety and security of our communities is critically important, now more than ever, given the public health crisis created by COVID-19,” said Supervisor Barger. “I am hopeful that through today’s Board action, the Sheriff will work with the County Chief Executive Office to identify more appropriate budget measures that will not impact our local communities, including Altadena, an unincorporated region that has relied on their Sheriff’s station for years. I remain committed to ensuring that the Sheriff’s Department maintains its core mission of public safety and meets the essential needs of residents and businesses throughout Los Angeles County.”
Since these announcements, a range of constituents and the Civilian Oversight Commission tasked with overseeing the Sheriff’s Department have expressed deep concern about the station closures and the negative impacts that they may have on community safety and service delivery. In the Second District, the unincorporated areas that are served by the Marina del Rey station and stand to be negatively impacted by this closure include Ladera Heights, View Park, Windsor Hills, and Del Rey.
Well before the preparation of Fiscal Year (FY) 2020-21 budget curtailment scenarios that were necessitated by recent revenue shortfalls, the Department had been facing significant budget overruns primarily caused by overtime expenditures and under-realization of revenues. Over the past several months, the Board has taken steps to proactively address the Department’s overspending. The Department overspent its FY 2018-29 budget by $63.4 million and is currently projected to overspend its FY 2019-20 budget $89 million. In October, the Board asked the Department to work with the CEO and A-C to formulate a deficit mitigation plan. Additionally, in April, the Board requested a reduction of academy classes, intended to realize approximately $49 million in cost savings and substantially close the budget gap.
This motion seeks to avoid unnecessary and unanticipated negative impact to services and programs that enhance public safety as the Board works to finalize the County’s FY 2020-21 budget, as well as ensure that these decisions are made in a transparent, collaborative and democratic way.