CARLETON CRONIN: Defunding the sheriff = throwing the baby out with the bathwater

With the notice of the  resignation of a trusted member of the Public Safety Commission, I am moved to comment broadly on the notion of “de-funding the sheriff.” Those who found merit in the idea are, in simple terms, “throwing out the baby with the bath water” — an old saw, no doubt, but it states my feeling about the matter.

There is certainly much to consider when we discuss what our various police agencies have become.  They do not sit around in their day rooms plotting ways to upset the citizens; they, just like the rest of us, react to conditions and then actions of others.

Let’s start with the real fact that police do not prevent much crime: they react to it. 

Unfortunately for us, their reactions sometimes have deadly and lasting effects, going back in time to around 1895 when New York City issued “police special .38 caliber revolvers” to its growing police force.  The weapons became part of the uniform and were worn openly on the hip. 

The issuing of guns was in response to increasing criminal acts involving guns. Cops could not shoot back.  Fifty years later semi-automatic pistols began to replace the revolver. Finally, today, police departments are armed with all the latest military-inspired weapons — again reacting to the conditions they meet on the streets, and other venues. 

The police may seem to be grossly overindulging in military hardware — but look at what a person can buy at a gun store these days. This is not a happy situation and the officers’ increasing dependence on firepower over other methods of dealing with a highly emotional situation are not only frightening but often, in the end, very expensive.

West Hollywood contracts with the Los Angeles Sheriff Department. In the early days of cityhood I was asked to be on a board of examiners to select LASD captains to command the city deputies’ contingent.  I was never privy to the contract arrangements and have always wondered how the contract was written. 

I have had the impression that LASD came to the table with a menu of what they would provide — package A, package B, etc. and the city chose one it could afford. Since my belief is that police are more responders to than preventers of crime, large numbers of deputies are not as important as their quality and ability to make good decisions — in other words, not reliant upon showing their weapons in every case.  

Rather than de-funding the police we should be able to have the police we actually need and want. We need sworn officers with the power to arrest over dozens of paid observers. 


There is another extremely important element in the law enforcement catalogue and that is us —  we, the residents of West Hollywood.  We have the responsibility to monitor our environment and to report to the proper authorities and request — sometimes demand — response. 

With new supervision in the Public Safety Department, the opportunity to re-energize our WATCH program exists and is sorely needed.  And, it costs very little and is a superb community building action. Further, couple that with our moribund CERT program, both of which encourages residents to be more self-reliant and less dependent upon certain municipal resources.  For those who want to de-fund the police, I ask — what replaces them?  Find the baby before you empty the tub.

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08mellie
08mellie
5 days ago

Here is some news NOT reported. From Canyon News a cut and paste. MELROSE—Saturday, June 18th, West Hollywood deputies arrived at Melrose Ave & Westmount Drive at 6:27am after they received a call from a woman who reported that she was assaulted by a black, transient female with an unknown deadly weapon. The victim was walking her dog in the area when she was approached by the suspect, who accused her of stealing her property before she slashed her arms with an unknown weapon leaving the victim with lacerations to her body. The LA County Fire Department transported her to… Read more »

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
8 days ago

While West Hollywood needs to have serious discussions on how we do law enforcement and what we expect from the Sheriff’s Department, this de-funding proposal, cutting ten deputies off the current sixty patrolling our streets, is simply absurd, particularly given the spike in crime. We need to fight all attempts to cut any deputies in the upcoming budget discussions as the residents don’t want any compromise in public safety. With Danny Rivas taking over as Public Safety Manager and Bill Moulder being promoted to captain, we have an opportunity for a fresh start: all we need is a functioning, adult… Read more »

Stevie
Stevie
8 days ago

I talked to Kristin Cook once about how the contract worked. The city tells the Sheriff’s Dept. how many deputies they want per shift for regular patrol and also specialized deputies (ie: bike patrols, entertainment deputies etc) including if those deputies have replacements on days off. Based on that, and other factors, the Sheriff’s Dept. quotes a price. Included in the base price are the station personnel.

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
8 days ago

Our national reality is that through the perverse proliferation of guns capable of mass destruction in the hands of people hellbent on causing that destruction, we can ill-afford simplistic solutions such as reducing sworn and armed deputies. I am reminded of JFK’s inaugural address in which he says, “We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.” For those of us who live in the real world, we see a sick gun culture, too often in the hands of criminals. Yes,… Read more »

Training Our Police
Training Our Police
8 days ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

Question…How would you square the quote from JFK with the fact that many of our police forces are being trained by the Israeli military both here and in Israel and have been fir more than the last 15 years?

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
8 days ago

I don’t answer questions posed in anonymity.

Training Our Police
Training Our Police
8 days ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

That’s fine. Please add that legitimate piece of information to your vault of knowledge and you are welcome to research the subject as well.

resident
resident
8 days ago

Thanks for your comments, Carleton.

Judging from the news, there is no “Public Safety Commission” in West Hollywood, just a bunch of immature and unqualified friends of board members.

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