Sheriff Alex Villanueva issued a detailed response Friday to claims his department has been charging West Hollywood up to 50 percent more than average for providing law enforcement services.
The allegations were made on Monday at the Public Safety Commission meeting by Commissioner Nika Soon-Shiong, a vocal critic of the department and an advocate for alternative policing.
Soon-Shiong’s accusations are reprinted alongside Villanueva’s responses below.
February 17, 2022
David Wilson, City Manager City of West Hollywood
8300 Santa Monica Boulevard West Hollywood, California 90069
Dear Mr. Wilson:
LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT’S RESPONSE TO PUBLIC SAFETY COMMISSION PRESENTATION
This correspondence is regarding several inquiries received in response to a presentation to the city of West Hollywood (City) Public Safety Commission meeting which took place on February 14, 2022, specifically regarding the Los Angeles County (County) Sheriff’s Department’s (LASD) costs to the City. The methodology utilized throughout the analysis to cost out police services is flawed and in no way consistent with the current cost methodology that has been in place for the past five decades, which has evolved since the inception of the County contract cost model in 1954, known as the “Lakewood Plan.” The current Law Enforcement Contractual Cost Model (LECC) is a consolidated model, inclusive of 42 contract cities, developed by the County Department of Auditor-Controller (DAO), which develops contract rates and adjustments annually.
Theanalysis posed four questions regarding the service costs, billing, and staffing, for law enforcement services contracted by the City through the LASD. See responses to the questions below ( bold and italicized).
QUESTION 1: What rate is West Hollywood paying per deputy and how does that compare to the average cost of a patrol deputy in the LA county budget? WeHo pays 45-50% above LASD average costs.
The city pays the exact same rate as all other contract cities.
LASD: Sheriff’s deputy/officer, including salary and benefits, is $174,686 (typically between $175k and $206k)
WEHO: Between $297,059 (non-relief deputy) – $518,085 (non-relief bonus deputy- detective or team leader)
The average salary and benefits calculated as $174,686 is erroneous and false. The $174,686 was derived by including the total salary and benefits for Patrol Clearing, which includes all sworn and professional staff assigned to all patrol stations and administrative support at the Hall of Justice. It does not reflect the salary and benefits of deputy sheriffs alone, as all sworn supervision (sergeants, lieutenants, captains, commanders, and chiefs are included for patrol), and all professional staff assigned to patrol and patrol support (law enforcement technicians, sheriff station clerks, evidence custodians, secretaries, etc.). There are only approximately 1,270 contracted deputy sheriff items assigned to our 42 contract cities, not 5,661.
The base rate for a 40 hour non-relief (NR) Deputy Sheriff Service Unit (DSSU) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021/2022 (21/22) is $297,039. As previously noted, the rates used by the LASD are developed solely and exclusively by the DAC, for the exact purpose of ensuring accountability by having another County department (other than the LASD) determine costs.
As outlined in the city’s 575 (Service Level Authorization Form), it is clear the City only pays for the minutes to be provided by a deputy sheriff. There is no line item for any other expenses such as supervision, overtime, vehicle maintenance, fuel, utilities, computers, office supplies, etc., all of those costs are included in the $297,039, which guarantees 40 hours of NR service, and all costs that the LASD and County incur to provide that service. All the costs that go into placing a deputy sheriff in a patrol car to provide service to a city is included in that cost ($297,039). As a city purchases more time (40 hour with relief, 56 hour, 70 hour, etc.) per DSSU, the price increases, because the expenses increase due to the increase in service. The LASD and County cannot profit from law enforcement service contracts, it can only legally recover its costs for providing the service.
QUESTION 2: To what extent might overtime expenses explain some of this gap? LASD’s Patrol Division, which includes the personnel working for contract cities, had over $7lM in overtime expenses in FY21. While we cannot determine how much of this overtime was on behalf of contract cities, we can estimate that LAPD’s Patrol Department reported an average of over $12K in overtime expenses in FY21.
A contract city is not billed separately for overtime expended to provide the contracted service. The overtime ($847) is included in the FY 21/22 base rate per 40 NR DSSU. The $847 is the amount of overtime per 40 hour NR DSSU that the LASD spent to provide contracted service to contract cities during the previous completed FY (19/20). The LASD is recovering those costs during this FY. The LASD cannot project what it may spend to provide service, it can only recover what it has already spent to provide service.
However, the LASD may be required to spend more overtime to fulfill its contract obligations to the City, but the LASD absorbs those costs and they are NOT billed or passed onto the City or any other contract cities. All contract cities have the option of purchasing supplemental overtime (i.e. West Hollywood Halloween Carnival, Christopher Street West events, etc.) to provide law enforcement services above and beyond the contracted service levels codified on the 575.
Even when OT and liability are accounted for, there is still a whopping $75,000 unaccounted for.
There is no extra $75,000.
QUESTION 3: How does the cost per FTE over time compare to inflation? When asked about the rising costs of FTE, it was reported back that this was due to the costs of “everything” rising. The average cost per FTE doubled in the past ten years, whereas CPI increased 22%.
The cost for providing service did not double, it actually was less than the stated CPI of 22 percent. The law enforcement (575) cost for the City only increased by 18.3 percent over the past decade.
QUESTION 4: How does this cost compare to other cities? By contracting with LASD for sheriff services, West Hollywood pays less per resident with independent police departments. However, the estimates LASD has provided overstate the difference. Specifically, LASD’s estimate for WeHo assumes that WeHo indirectly benefits from many more sworn and non-sworn PD employees than it contracts (e.g. 99 sworn employees when contracting for 59.7). This reduces the estimated annual cost per sworn officer. LASD’s estimate also appears to inflate the cost of Beverly Hills’ PD by double counting pension costs.
All contract cities pay the same rate for each service unit type. The only difference is the amount of service purchased by each contract city. There are no special or different rates for other contract cites. Independent police departments in the county base their costs per officer or employee. The LASD costs are based on increments of time, or the amount of service coverage each city requests. All applicable costs are included in the one price. The LASD is contractually obligated to provide the amount of service purchased by each contract city. The LASD does not sell or contract individuals, it sells or contracts increments of time, or shifts, or patrol coverage.
City of Beverly Hills FY21 Police Final Budgeted Amount= $88 million
City of West Hollywood LASD Contract for FY 20/21 = $19.1 million
West Hollywood Station (Station) does indeed have more deputies assigned to the Station than are contracted by the City. The additional deputies assigned to the Station are tasked With patrolling the adjacent unincorporated areas of the County (Federal Enclave, Franklin Canyon, and Universal City). Those deputies deploy out of the Station, which means they have a presence in the City while traversing to their assigned unincorporated area, and are available to and do provide service to the City when requested by deputies assigned to the City (backup requests, etc.). These unincorporated deputies are funded by the appropriate Supervisorial District.
My staff at Contract Law Enforcement Bureau are a resource for the City and are available to provide additional information to you or the Public Safety Commission if requested. In addition, a Contract Law 101 presentation was conducted for the California Contract Cities Association (COCA), which was uploaded by the COCA to the YouTube channel. The presentation can be found on the COCA webpage: www.contractcities.org (scroll over ‘Events’, click ‘Media’, under ‘Videos’ click the link totheCCCA’s YouTube page, once on the CCCA’s YouTube page, click ‘Videos’, and scroll down to the video titled,”2020-09-10 COCA CFES Contract Law 101″), or type the following link: https://youtu.be/net-VP-8.AZA.
Should you have any questions, please contact Captain Sergio Escobedo, Contract Law Enforcement Bureau, at (213) 229-1647.