UPDATED: WeHo defunds the sheriff

UPDATED WITH QUOTE FROM SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT

West Hollywood City Council voted to reduce funding to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department at their meeting Monday night despite a fierce public backlash, ending a long-simmering debate about the future of public safety in the city.

Mayor Pro Tem Sepi Shyne’s motion to amend the city’s budget for 2022-23 and 2023-24, proposed by City Manager David Wilson, will ultimately leave West Hollywood with four fewer deputies on patrol.

The budget was narrowly approved in a split vote, with Shyne and Councilmembers Lindsey Horvath and John D’Amico voting in favor, and Mayor Lauren Meister and Councilmember John Erickson voting against it. For months, Meister has vocally opposed reducing the sheriff’s presence on city streets.

“I’m not going to vote for the budget if we cut the sheriff’s (funds),” Meister said. “First of all, nobody has the gun problem that we have in this country. You can’t expect us to have a public safety team where most of the people aren’t armed in order to defend our citizens.”

Shyne’s amended budget re-allocates the funds for the sheriff’s deputies to the Block by Block program, which staffs the unarmed, blue-shirted security ambassadors who provide the city with supplemental law enforcement services. Two deputies will be removed in six months, and three more deputies will be removed six months after that, though an Entertainment Policing Team deputy will be restored. Thirty Block by Block security ambassadors will be added to the program’s contract. 

“Along with the West Hollywood Community,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement, “we are disappointed that as part of the approved city budget, four deputies will be cut in the upcoming months. We would like to thank all the residents who were opposed to this vote and responded in its opposition. It appears outside activists had more weight than the residents of West Hollywood.”

The reallocation is a victory for progressive activists, alternative policing advocates and opponents of Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who have pressured WeHo’s leaders to reduce funding for the department all year long. The movement gained steam this spring when Public Safety Commissioner Nika Soon-Shiong led her colleagues in recommending the budget reduction to City Council.

For months, residents and business owners from all over the city have expressed their deep concerns about cutting the sheriff’s budget in the midst of a crime wave and at a time of general unease. 

Ruth Williams, a co-founder of West Hollywood who passed away this month, addressed the Public Safety Commission in April with a plea to preserve the sheriff’s presence.

“We need our deputies on the street, and we need more of them. We need them on foot patrol. We need them on bikes. We need to bring back whoever was defunded, and even add more. Crime is up. People are yelling for more public safety, not not less,” Williams said.

Shyne said the sheriff’s record of combating crime was not keeping pace with the rising costs of the department, and that the Block by Block program represented more “bang for the buck.”

“What we know now is our residents want foot patrols. We need to be fiscally responsible And we have all talked for two years. Reimagining policing means reallocating funding. You can’t just say it without actually doing it. Period.”

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[…] previously fired deputies and other irresponsible actions. Horvath successfully urged the city to modestly reduce the size of its contract with the department — 56 deputies instead of 60 — and invest the savings in services provided […]

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[…] previously fired deputies and other irresponsible actions. Horvath successfully urged the city to modestly reduce the size of its contract with the department — 56 deputies instead of 60 — and invest the savings in services provided […]

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[…] city, which recently chose to re-route funding from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department to a local approach involving designated “security ambassadors,” has started a program […]

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[…] West Hollywood closure was announced shortly after the council voted to defund its police contract by reducing the number of Sheriff deputies they were paying for. Despite the […]

Eastside Straight Girl
Eastside Straight Girl
2 months ago

https://dsa-la.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/DSA-LA-2020-General-Election-Voter-Guide-5.pdf

Here is the proof of the Socialist Democratic Party & page 76 Sepi Shine that she intended on defunding the Sheriff’s department back in 2020. Come on voters….do your damn homework! I knew this & did NOT vote for her but many got hoodwinked into the identity politics!

Brian Casey
Brian Casey
2 months ago

You have no idea of the definition of the word ‘socialist”.

David Reid
2 months ago

Outside the box. Voters rejected a West Hollywood Police Department in the early 90s. The city was barely a teenager. Now, at 38 this November West Hollywood needs to adult and –at the very least– consider again the question. Should there be a West Hollywood Public Safety department? Should there be WHiPS in WeHo? There are 88 cities in Los Angeles county. 43 of them have their own independent law enforcement. It’s easy to dismiss this as only ‘big’ cities can afford this. Beverly Hills, Long Beach, Burbank, Glendale… ˜ I’ve attached a listing below. Is West Hollywood as capable… Read more »

Ian
Ian
2 months ago
Reply to  David Reid

Way past time to demand our own PD.

Guy
2 months ago

I’m appalled at what’s happening. When I lived there the Sheriff’s Department were the ONLY ones we could trust to protect and stand up for us. These new members of the City Council(plants from the outside) are undermining West Hollywood. People like Horvath are going to do exactly what they did to Laguna Beach. They will turn away all the gay establishment and take over. They literally closed, or tore down every gay establishment by changing laws and by chasing away the business and residents that once created and built the city. THAT is what will happen to West Hollywood… Read more »

Ian
Ian
2 months ago
Reply to  Guy

The same happened to the West Village in NYC.

Keith
Keith
2 months ago

I’m voting every one of these MotherFers out of office. This is ridiculous.

Ian
Ian
2 months ago
Reply to  Keith

Praise!

Ian
Ian
2 months ago

There are basic parameters that politicians should not have the power to do. Comprimising the safety of citizens is one, without a voter referendum held directly by the people. West Hollywood city charter needs to be changed. This is a serious eye opener. We have way too many fringe lunatics holding office

CHLOE ROSS
2 months ago
Reply to  Ian

Fewer deputies, to my thinking, is an invitation to more crime. How much more do we need? We might want to consider the ways I which we can decrease crime by making sure that funding for LE is a priority. Defunding LE is not a proven way to decrease criminal activities. Perhaps the advocates for this defund should see how other small cities handle it and put cops on the beat, walking the street and making themselves obvious. And consider defunding other less urgent city endeavors – of which we seem to have many.

Ian
Ian
2 months ago
Reply to  CHLOE ROSS

This used to be one of the safest towns in LA County…now look what has happened after these outsiders who have lived here for 5 minutes have done. These are radical fringe lunatics. Septic Tank has NO BUSINESS ever being put into any position of leadership. D’Amico just turned into a Far Left self serving idiot.

Mark
Mark
2 months ago

This whole defund the police nonsense is what is going to kill the democrats this fall. These people are complete morons. We are on the verge of all kinds of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the country and hates crimes are on the increase especially in the gay community. I think adding more safety ambassadors on bikes is a great idea but not at the expense of eliminating sheriff’s deputies. West Hollywood has plenty of money and if they need more money they should eliminate some of their dumb ideas for city beautification and put it towards safety. I’ll be voting against… Read more »

Ian
Ian
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark

As it should. Folks need to wake the hell up and stop pretending this is their old Democratic Party. It has become a Far Left organization completely run by Globalists. No different then when the Fringy Tea Party took over the GOP and turned it into a bible thumping Handmaiden Party until they where run out.

Mark
Mark
2 months ago
Reply to  Ian

People are waking up and unfortunately the democrats are the ones who will be paying the price. Most of these progressives complain about everything and then don’t show up to vote. That’s how we ended up with Donald Trump and 3 new extremists on the Supreme Court.

Scrutiniy Needed
Scrutiniy Needed
2 months ago
Reply to  Ian

Kindly look into DIGNITY AND POWER NOW co founded by the BLACK LIVES MATTER Patrice Khan Culliors and her problematic 501(c)(3) They have targeted West Holywood with its plentiful group of LGBTQIA+ victims ready to go. They have taken ups position within the Democratic Party but are more of a fringe aspect rather than an integrity based benefit .

Michael
Michael
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark

Mayor Pro Tem Sepi Shyne is a complete FOOL!!!

Calculated but not a fool
Calculated but not a fool
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael

She is not a fool. Rather an insidious, calculated, unsatisfied individual making extremely foolish decisions under the guise of progressive sensibility. Sepi Shyne’s number one and only item in the agenda is her myopic self. She’s gonna show those folks that allegedly bullied her as a child. 😨

JRBirdsong
JRBirdsong
2 months ago

NOT a clever idea to do this. The others may take issue!!! and not be where they are needed. Septic needs to go! Recall election time! WHO is she? How did she get elected? Dump her ASAP

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