Defunding Déjà Vu? Public Safety Commission questions how many deputies WeHo needs

ADVERTISEMENT

Just two years after they came up with the idea of defunding the sheriff, West Hollywood’s Public Safety Commission has begun advocating for “alternative policing solutions” again and is even considering new adjustments to the number of deputies patrolling the city. 

The commission started to review the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s contract with the city at their meeting this week. Acting Captain Andrew Cruz of the WeHo Sheriff’s Station fielded questions from commissioners about how many deputies the station has and how many it needs. 

Vice Chair Robert Saltzman and Commissioners Brandon Blau and Joy Freiberg led the way in expressing skepticism for the contract, much as their predecessor Nika Soon-Shiong did in 2022, when she set in motion the city’s disastrous plan to cut deputies in the midst of a crime wave. The policy was roundly criticized by residents and received scathing national media coverage before City Council relented and reversed course.

 

THE CONTRACT

The current five-year contract with the sheriff ends in June, and the commission has been tasked with recommending potential changes to City Council.

The sheriff operates on a one-cost contracting system, where each contract city purchases a Deputy Service Unit. Cities can purchase different levels of service, such as the basic 40-hour unit for specialized teams or more comprehensive 70-hour units for broader coverage. West Hollywood has opted for a 70-hour deputy sheriff unit as the primary model. This unit operates 7 days a week for 10 hours a day.

ADVERTISEMENT

Service units are contracted based on service hours, not the number of personnel. For a 70-hour unit, the department is obligated to provide 3,650 hours of service annually to each service unit the city purchases.

Compliance with the law enforcement service agreement requires meeting at least 98% of the purchased service hours. Reaching this threshold signifies compliance with the contract.

The department does not contract personnel numbers but focuses on delivering the agreed service hours.

Financial aspects of the contract were discussed, including the annual rate for a 70-hour service unit in fiscal year 23/24, which is $624,120. This part of the presentation illustrated the cost, service hours provided, and personnel required for the city’s contracted service units.

The department is currently working on developing service agreements and rates for the next fiscal year, indicating an ongoing process of negotiation and adjustment with contract cities.

Concerns about the contract’s renewal and feedback mechanisms were raised, noting that adjustments need agreement six months before the contract’s expiration. Despite passing this timeframe, efforts to negotiate the new agreement are underway, involving city managers and station commanders to tailor the service level agreements to each city’s needs.

Compliance with the contract is framed solely in terms of meeting the 98% service hours threshold, without specific mention of the nature or quality of services provided within those hours.

The agreement, referred to as the “umbrella agreement,” details the law enforcement and public safety services provided by the sheriff’s department across all 42 contract cities, each purchasing services differently.

Specific services tailored to the needs of individual cities, like WeHo’s purchase of Mental Evaluation Team (MET) deputies, are included under the broader scope of law enforcement services offered.

The contract does not specify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or performance/service item agreements explicitly; validation of the contract’s execution is based on deputies logging their hours worked.

Deputies log on for their shifts, document their response to calls, and all activities during the shift are tracked, ensuring accountability for the time spent on duty.

Public safety, response times, and the value derived from contracting with the sheriff’s department are of significant concern to both city officials and the public for ensuring effective and efficient service delivery.

For additional details on specific metrics or concerns beyond basic service provision, inquiries are directed to the West Hollywood Station for further clarification.

The cost for the services, including 70 hours as mentioned, covers all-inclusive aspects such as vehicle maintenance, fuel, office supplies, and utilities, indicating that the budget allocation is comprehensive and not solely for direct compensation to officers.

The majority of the budget goes toward salary, wages, and benefits for employees.

A significant portion of the contract service’s advantage is due to volume purchasing by 42 contract cities, leading to a more cost-effective distribution of funds primarily towards employee salaries and benefits.

Other portions of the budget support employee-related services, such as the Psychological Services Bureau.

The goal is to achieve 98% compliance per month with the contract agreements, which is taken seriously, with adjustments made as needed to ensure this target is consistently met.

West Hollywood’s specific compliance statistics were not provided, but there’s confidence in generally Special events like Pride and Halloween require additional deputies, which are not covered under the regular deployment and are instead managed through separate contracts or agreements based on overtime rates.

Costs for special events are factored separately from the regular contract services.

The Special Enforcement Bureau’s services, such as a SWAT team, are included countywide and do not incur extra costs for specific incidents.

 

HOW MANY DEPUTIES?

The national average for sworn officers is 2.4 per 1,000 residents. With West Hollywood’s population at approximately 36,616, this equates to an ideal number of 88 sworn officers.

Currently, West Hollywood has 62 sworn officers, which is about 70% of the national average.

The discussion opened up about whether and how the city might aim to align closer to the national average and what levels of staffing are comfortable for the community.

Community Safety Director Danny Rivas mentioned that the city does not have a maximum number of officers but referred to a spreadsheet indicating the number of sworn personnel over the last 17 years.

The highest number of sworn officers West Hollywood has had in the past 17 years is 67.

Commissioner George Nickle initiated a conversation about the potential need to adjust officer numbers, considering the increase in visitors to West Hollywood since 2008, despite the resident population changes being unclear.

Vice Chair Saltzman raised questions about the source of the 2.4 officers per 1,000 residents ratio, noting differences across regions in the U.S., and emphasized the importance of considering alternative services to armed officers in the discussion.

The source of the ratio was identified as the FBI, which collects data on police employment across the nation, indicating it as a national average.

L.A. Mayor Karen Bass is striving to increase the LAPD force to 10,000 officers, aiming for a ratio of a little over 2.4 officers per 1,000 residents, in response to Los Angeles’s population of just under four million.

Comparatively, Los Angeles has fewer police officers than cities like Chicago and New York City.

Some commissioners voiced frustration with the opacity of the contract with the sheriff’s department, making it difficult to understand the specifics of police operations and accountability.

They broached the idea of exploring alternative safety measures, such as Block by Block security services or unarmed security guards. Other commissioners pushed back, saying law enforcement officers have a more significant presence and command more respect compared to Block by Block, which they reported do not receive as much respect from the community, including the unhoused.

The commission proposed allocating four deputies to foot patrol in a specified area, without incurring overtime costs.

These foot patrols would cover a broad area, with the exact boundaries to be determined.

Some commissioners had concerns about the cost of adding four new deputies, citing a minimum liability of $1.2 million and the need for a clearer understanding of the impact of this investment.

The possibility of implementing the foot patrol as a pilot program is suggested, akin to other programs, to assess its effectiveness and impact before making a long-term commitment.

Chairman Tod Halman reassures the commission that their feedback will be documented and considered, without pressuring for an immediate decision.

It’s mentioned that the Sheriff’s Department currently has a moratorium on adding new staff to contracts for contract cities, and positions are being filled through overtime as a creative solution.

2.5 2 votes
Article Rating
ADVERTISEMENT

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

47 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Left Field
Left Field
1 month ago

In the 90’s, Santa Monica Blvd was world famous for male prostitution. The art house film ” Hustler White ” represents this time very well, in my opinion. Now some 30 years later, some of our safety commissioners are trying to reinvent the wheel. Watching the debate on the number of Sheriff Deputies needed to patrol the streets was like watching an episode of The Stepford Wives Safety Commission. The number of Sheriff Deputies needed is 70. Why? Just because. Because the city has all its eggs in one basket relying on a hotel tax to pay the bills. Because… Read more »

Graham
Graham
1 month ago

The whole safety commission should be waterboarded and tortured ,

Ida Lupino
Ida Lupino
1 month ago

Who the HELL voted for these people who have the power to decide if voters have POLICE protection?
What is wrong with the picture here!

This needs to stop and prevented from EVER going down this lunatic Far Left BS path again.

West
1 month ago

I wish this commission would meaningfully address the concerns around surveillance, especially the join regional data center that has been shrouded in mystery. Not only are law enforcement scanning surveillance footage from drone and traffic cameras, but very likely also social media activity. I doubt Weho residents would support the initiative if they knew fully what it entails.

gdaddy
gdaddy
1 month ago
Reply to  West

I do. All about video cameras everywhere other than inside your own home. Nobody has any right to privacy while outdoors, including criminals.

Cy Husain
1 month ago
Reply to  gdaddy

Actually there are a number precedents set for reasonable expectations of privacy outdoors and in public places when it comes to anyone’s personal privacy. There are reasonable expectations of privacy in the civil context and, in the criminal law context. When another party (including law enforcement) unreasonably interferes with privacy rights, the courts have held them liable for their intrusion.

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
1 month ago
Reply to  Cy Husain

It might have the appearance of authoritative knowledge when linking to outside articles; however, those links should reference topics that are on point and bolster ones argument.

Cy Husain
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

YES the sources are quite broad and I probably should have narrowed it down to the specific part of the source that was applicable.

BloodshotEyedGuy
BloodshotEyedGuy
1 month ago

A great but slow philosopher once wisely stated: “Stupid is as stupid does.” I’m quite sure he was referring to WeHo voters. Keep it up, always vote for the ones with the nose rings, pink or blue hair, and who are obsessed with the police, pronouns, and the right to come to work at your job at the local bank dressed like Lady Gaga. It’s doing wonders for the safety and reputation of West Hollywood.

John Arnold
John Arnold
1 month ago

It’s not a great sign that the commissioners were talking about this without any members of the public present. We’ve all got to do our part to keep democracy working and be there when it counts. I’m guilty too. I had no clue they were even discussing this, so I’ve got to start paying more attention to what’s on their agenda.

Joshua88
Joshua88
1 month ago

Key point: “Vice Chair Saltzman raised questions about the source of the 2.4 officers per 1,000 residents ratio…”
What year?

Cy Husain
1 month ago
Reply to  Joshua88

Nationwide, the rate of sworn officers was 2.4 per 1,000 inhabitants in 2017. Sourced from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. Keep in mind that Public Safety Experts have long questioned the Officers per thousand and other deployment myths as a reliable standard of effective law enforcement. More important is how the officers are distributed and duties assigned.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Cy Husain

Thank you for the source of this stat. As you say, deployment, duties and nature of the community are variables that a random number does not take into account.

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Nuance and critical thinking demand that policy makers account for the fact that West Hollywood is an entertainment destination for people from across the region and thus the population swells at night and on weekends. To fail to comprehend that basic level of analytical skill should be a sign of ones unfitness for an office of public trust charged with any policy, particularly the number one obligation of municipal government that is to keep people safe.

Cy Husain
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

In other words the entertainment business of West Hollywood makes it an attractive nuisance with a highly variable visitor population. What you are missing is the LA Sheriff’s criminal gang activity that not only fails to deal with the problems this situation brings but, causes even more serious problems of their own. Not only do LASD deputies NOT live in West Hollywood, 40% don’t live in Los Angeles County and, are exceptionally hostel to the rights of the minority groups that make up the population.

Jason B.
Jason B.
1 month ago

As I was reading this very story, I heard a guy shouting expletives at every car driving down SMB (at La Cienega). I looked outside and the guy was swinging his belongings around wildly, grabbing his crotch, flipping people off, and jumping in and out of eastbound traffic. A sheriff’s vehicle was in that eastbound traffic and his lights weren’t on as if repponding to another call, so they could have EASILY pulled over to check on this guy. But, instead, this deputy just drove off as if nothing happened. This guy was putting himself and others in danger the… Read more »

Mikie Friedman
Mikie Friedman
1 month ago
Reply to  Jason B.

and where were all these “helpful” BBB security people I see standing around on Santa Monica Blvd. while this was happening?? at the public safety commission meetings the BBB spokesperson always brags about how much they are doing to calm and take care of the unhoused population and how they take that burden away from the sheriffs. But of course she has to say that in order to justify the exorbitant amount of money the city is paying them.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mikie Friedman
John Arnold
John Arnold
1 month ago
Reply to  Jason B.

Just because the sheriff’s vehicle wasn’t using its sirens doesn’t mean it wasn’t responding to an urgent call for service. Not all situations allow the use of sirens, which are typically reserved for life-threatening emergencies.

John Arnold
John Arnold
1 month ago
Reply to  Jason B.

If you witness this again, I suggest calling the WeHo Cares Team.

BloodshotEyedGuy
BloodshotEyedGuy
1 month ago
Reply to  Jason B.

Are you being facetious in an attempt at humor? Block by Block is about as effective as Jacyln Smith, Kate Jackson, and Farrah Fawcett coming to “rescue” you. (Spoiler alert: They were actresses and not real trained officers.)

Cy Husain
1 month ago
Reply to  Jason B.

WOW, and I go out everyday looking for this kind of excitement ONLY to find myself completely ignored ❗ 🤷🏽‍♂️

Carleton cro9nin
2 months ago

Here we go again. Defunding then police is inherits stupid, especially when there is no real substitution for their need offered. The city must have a strong, active WATCH program involving community associations and business groups to have any real value. Unless Ambassadors are good observers and can quickly and easily inform the sheriff of suspicious activity, they are best at directing visitors to the nearest public (?) restroom. Citizens (residents) MUST be more involved in helping to prevent crimes by observing and reporting activities which are at odds with normal behavior. Don’t look the other way.

08mellie
08mellie
2 months ago

Do any of these people live in West Hollywood? What are their salaries?

singleguywh
singleguywh
1 month ago
Reply to  08mellie

(a) they all have to live in the City in order to be appointed, and (b) they receive $75 for each meeting (which as it happens is taxable, so most barely clear enough to have dinner in West Hollywood as a thank you for putting up with Freiburg, Blau, etc.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
2 months ago

It is pretty clear that the City Council majority, through the words of their direct appointees to the Commission are still on the “De-Fund the Police” bandwagon. George Nickle had clearly prepared and had pro-community talking points, but the majority of the Commission simply ignored our recent history of criminal activity and were touting their “Social Justice” ideology rather than focus on the community’s real life experience with crime and public safety. While I completely support efforts to hold the LASD accountable for bad conduct, our first priority is protecting our residents and businesses. Once again, the Commission seems to… Read more »

Mikie Friedman
Mikie Friedman
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

You are absolutely right, Steve! And how quickly they forget the mess that the last public safety commission left us with!
there are two things you should never cheap out on nor play with…health and safety! get the best health insurance you can possibly afford because it will stand you in good stead one day. I say that from personal experience. And get the very best safety team in place, because they too, might save your life!

Last edited 2 months ago by Mikie Friedman
JF1
JF1
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

100%.

Elgin
Elgin
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Yes indeed. Like up its collective ass

Carleton cro9nin
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

In a nutshell, as we old-timers say. I posed A comment on this article but it must have been too off limits and was scratched. .De-fu7ndin the police is stupid, in any case. CARRY ON, STEVE.

Lynda
Lynda
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Yes, thank you Steve.

:dpb
:dpb
2 months ago

Joy Freiberg, Brandon Blau and the rest of the “public safety” commissioners can go to h*ll. Take these wannabe government officials and they’re progressive b/s and dissolve the commission. Does no one pay attention to the trial and error of the previous four years? If we need anything it’s additional deputies and more accountability. As a life long proud liberal, it’s Blau and his ilk make me sick, they think they have answers and love to hear themselves talk. If it’s a money thing, cut the salaries at city hall and re-allocate to the sheriff depart, skip the folly of… Read more »

voter
voter
1 month ago
Reply to  :dpb

Thank you! I think almost all of the residents and taxpayers of West Hollywood are in agreement with you.

47
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x