Another special moment last night from a daffy committee member was listening to the kinda offbeat Rosemary Burnett claim that Sheriff Dept. response times would be far longer than those of the SMPD because they would be coming "all the way from Temple City." Capoccia gently explained to the poor dear that since the LASD would be on patrol here 24/7, response times would be pretty much the same.
There were other moments as well, including the great fingerprinting canard. Something Gene Goss cited last night as if it actually amounted to something.
Apparently the claim of "immediate fingerprinting" one resident made at public comment Monday has not been the experience of everyone in Sierra Madre. Here is how a commenter on this blog described his harrowing misadventure with a rather slack and indifferent Sierra Madre PD:
My house was robbed. $7,000 worth of specialized computer equipment. No fingerprinting was ever done, or anything else. We called a Detective named Gray about 5 times and the jerk never called us back. We needed to have a report filled out so we could get some money from the insurance company. The lazy SMPD staff refused to do it, so we did it ourselves. But we still needed to get it signed, and we had to go down to that PD station 3 times before one of those people would finally agree to sign it. This process took a full month. So when this woman stood up there ranting about fingerprints I could only laugh.
Lambdin also claimed that those speaking at public comment last night would clearly demonstrate strong community support for the SMPD, yet it was pretty much the exact same group of individuals that spoke the night before. Slightly better behaved, of course.
Plus there were several thoughtful speakers who defended bringing the LASD here. Or at least saw some virtue in it. Proving that not everyone in this town fears retaliation from the SMPOA.
It is also rather telling that while on the one hand the likes of Committeemember Bill Coburn claimed it is the longstanding familiarity and comfort with Sierra Madre Police Officers that makes them such an integral part of this community's culture, he later claimed that the lack of those outrageous quarter of a million dollar compensation packages other cities pay their beat cops is causing our PD members to quit and leave in significant numbers.
So which is it? Are they coming or going, Bill? Selling in or selling out? Exactly who is firing whom here?
Oh, and exactly how many times has the SMPOA sued the taxpayers of Sierra Madre again? Over 20 times in the last decade perhaps? Maybe even more?
That is not the definition of "Us" I was taught as a child. Nor is this (link):
Years later this case is still winding its way through the Courts. God only knows how much in legal expenses it is costing us to continue to defend former SMPD Chief Diaz against one of those cops who supposedly made Sierra Madre feel like a community.
It is one thing that the solons of the "SHERIFF CONTRACT PROPOSAL COMMITTEE" were clearly in the tank and cheerleading for the SMPOA. That was obvious all along, and most accepted it. Not all that much was expected from them, anyway.
But that they couldn't even make up believable and consistent stories is quite another. These obviously are not especially thoughtful people.
Sierra Madre resident Rick De La Mora sent the following off to the Mayor and City Council yesterday. It clearly spells out what the real issues involved here are. It is the kind of nonemotional and rational look into the acute financial problems this city is facing that clearly is beyond the understanding of most of the SMPD fansters that spoke this week from the public comment podium at City Hall.
Dear Mayor Capoccia and Members of the Council:
I am writing regarding the Sheriff’s police services proposal which was rejected by the Committee to which you delegated your review responsibility. Before turning to that, I would like to address some community needs that require attention.
First, the facilities at Heasley and Dapper fields are in need of updating and repair. These fields are perhaps the most important community gathering points in our city. Each year literally thousands of children, parents, and grandparents visit these facilities to share Little League and Softball games. Yet each has fallen into disrepair, with substandard restrooms, grandstands and fields.
Second, our growing senior population could use improved facilities and programs designed to meet their needs. These senior citizens have contributed mightily over the years. The City needs to step up to meet their needs.
Third, our library needs further funding to provide improved services for young and old alike.
Finally, as this morning’s Star News indicated, our water infrastructure is in need of repair. The problem has become so bad that the City is now exploring further borrowing and funding from our general fund.
None of these needs can be met under current budget restraints, even if one assumes that the UUT is increased to 10% as advocated by the Council or 12% as advocated by the Sheriff’s proposal committee. The reason for this is simple: The City Council has chosen not to reduce the $4 million that it has chosen to spend on police services.
That $4 million police expenditure represents 47% of our general fund – a significantly greater percentage than any other city in the San Gabriel Valley. The City Council’s decision to allocate this disproportionate percentage of the general fund to police services has made it impossible to address the community needs outlined above. That is unfortunate. It is also unnecessary.
The Sheriff’s Department has presented a proposal that will
(i) Increase patrol hours by 22% (Proposal, p. 58), and
(ii) Save the City $800,000 per year
That $800,000 annual savings will enable the City to begin immediate funding of improvements to the Little League and Softball facilities, senior facilities, and library as outlined above. It will also leave money available to apply toward improving our water infrastructure over the next several years.
The Committee correctly noted that we have an outstanding police force, with call response times of 3 minutes. In fact, the Sheriff is prepared to employ all qualified SMPD officers. The Sheriff will also keep our station house open from 6 am to 10 pm every day. Under an identical arrangement La Canada has experienced Sheriff’s Department response times of 3.7 minutes, despite being over twice as large as Sierra Madre (LA Times, 7/2/14). In other words, the Sheriff is more than capable of policing our town in a professional, timely, and efficient manner.
While the Committee is to be thanked for its efforts, it was not tasked with considering our police service costs in the context of our civic needs and the budget as a whole. That is the Council’s job. In performing it you will have to make choices. I urge you to choose the civic improvements identified above over the continued devotion of an excessive proportion of our public funds to the purchase of police services.
Thank you each for your service to our City, Rick De La Mora
Richard G. De La Mora
We will have more on this story as it develops.