Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sierra Madre Weekly: Sierra Madre Police Department Seeks Outside Help - Dept. Has Lost Half of its Force

Mod: Strong article from Terry Miller of the Sierra Madre Weekly on City Hall's latest crisis du jour. It hit their website yesterday and has yet to be published in the paper edition, which is distributed on Thursdays. For the original setting click here.


According to a press release sent out by Sierra Madre last night “Staffing levels within the Sierra Madre Police Department (SMPD) have reached a level where there are insufficient personnel to provide safe and reliable police services twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.”

This in itself, of course is extremely alarming for any city but especially one that has been recently plagued with residential burglaries, yet ironically was also just named one of the safest cities in California by a survey company.

The troubles at the Sierra Madre PD have been long and serious, including multiple lawsuits both aimed at the dept. from citizens, and from within the department itself. Additionally, the tiny city has little sales tax base unlike neighboring cities such as Arcadia.

A tough time indeed for this embattled little city.

Elisa Cox, Assistant City Manager, told the Sierra Madre Weekly Friday that the city is actively seeking new police recruits from the police academy but freely admits other cities pay considerably more than the SMPD. This is key in the dilemma this city’s chief executives face. Cox also said the election and the UUT tax will, of course, also play a crucial role in deciding the fate of the police.

A Sierra Madre Police Sergeant was dismissed during closed session at a City Council Meeting held on July 14, 2009. In response to a request for information related to this dismissal, City Manager Elaine Aguilar said that “personnel matters are confidential, and we really can’t say anything. People have a right to privacy.” No further information was able to be obtained regarding the dismissal.

According to Federal District Court filings, John Ellins, a SMPD officer, filed a lawsuit against the City of Sierra Madre and Marilyn Diaz. The suit was filed on June 3, 2009 under the category of “Civil Rights – Employment.” Marilyn Diaz was the police Chief of the Sierra Madre Police Department at that time. She was the first female police chief in L.A. County.

Also in 2009, at Approximately 3:30 a.m. Jan 30, a Sierra Madre police officer discovered a Nissan SUV within the city that had been reported stolen. The Nissan was towed back to the rear of the police station on Sierra Madre Blvd. To their surprise, officers opened the hatchback of the SUV and found a man in the vehicle’s cargo area where he had allegedly been sleeping under a blanket.

Why the officer(s) didn’t see the individual before the car was towed has been the subject of much speculation and supposition. 46-year-old Jason Jensen had allegedly been living in the car that had been reported as stolen. The SMPD’s Henry Amos then shot Jensen with a single round to his upper torso.

An internal investigation was completed and the now Detective Henry Amos is back on duty.

The city has been divided over the possibility of outsourcing for police services. On one side are residents who believe that their police officers do not appreciate their recent pay raises and generally have a negative attitude about working in Sierra Madre. They call for the police services to be outsourced, which would save the city money and potentially receive better service.

A central comment on both sides of this question relates to the salaries of the police department. Some say that the SMPD already receives too much money from the city, while others believe the SMPD remains one of the lowest paid departments despite help from their recent raise funded by the now-controversial Utility Users Tax increase passed in 2008.

At their Tuesday, January 26 meeting, the City Council will review an agreement with the City of Arcadia to temporarily provide police patrol services, seven days a week between the hours of 6:00 pm and 6:00 am beginning Sunday, February 7, 2016.

Over the course of the last few months, the Sierra Madre Police Department has lost nine of its twenty full-time employees, three part-time Community Service Officers, and one part-time Police Officer. There is a good possibility that the Department may lose a few more employees in the coming weeks.

Employees are resigning for a variety of reasons including retirement, an opportunity to work at higher paying departments, a perceived lack of job security in light of the scheduled decrease of the Utility Users Tax and the pending revenue measure on the April ballot.

According to City Manager Elaine Aguilar, the “No on UUT” measure did qualify for the ballot by getting a sufficient number of qualified signatures. However, it was too late to put it on the April 2016 ballot per both Election Code and the City Clerk.

The proponents did not request a special election so pursuant to the elections code the measure would technically go on the April 2018 election. However, the City Council could decide to consolidate with a County Election, for example in June 2016 or November 2016. The Council has not yet decided to consolidate with the County – they will be discussing their options during the February City Council meetings.”

During the term of the temporary contract, the Sierra Madre Police Department will continue to staff a dispatcher in the Sierra Madre Police Station during the nighttime hours. This will allow the Dispatcher to greet and assist walk-in lobby traffic, answer routine business calls such as overnight parking permits, and lessen the temporary impact to citizens who call the Police Department. All non-critical reports and calls for service will be handled by SMPD officers during their daytime shift.

The Sierra Madre City Council will review the contract at its regular meeting on Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at 6:30pm in the City Council Chambers, 232 W. Sierra Madre Blvd. The Arcadia City Council is scheduled to review the contract at its February 2, 2016 meeting. The temporary supplemental policing services for nighttime patrol is anticipated to begin on Sunday, February 7, 2016 and be in effect until June of 2016.

For additional information, the Sierra Madre staff report is available on the City’s website at: http://www.cityofsierramadre.com/

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

67 comments:

  1. Stop the madness, hire the Sheriffs.

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  2. Adios Sad Mini Police Dept.January 23, 2016 at 4:33 AM

    At this point can anyone seriously argue that the quality of police services offered by SMPD exceeds that which the Sheriff would offer under the 20/20 proposal?

    Though to be fair, what young, energetic and ambitious cop would want to build a career in a town with no real crime? Where your job consists of aimlessly cruising our two square miles hour after hour, day after day?

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  3. How will the 2 Johns & a Gene deal with this at Tuesday evening's City Council meeting?

    1) Admit that Sierra Madre has a serious law enforcement crisis and recognize that the only viable solution is to bring in the Sheriff's Department.

    2) Turn this into a UUT hike sales pitch.

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    1. It's already happened. Notice Elisa Cox's comment in the article about how difficult it is to hire police officers when there is the specter of low pay hanging over their heads. Nice spin, Elisa.

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    2. Elisa Cox should be fired herself. She should not blame it on low pay. Who is she working for anyway? The pay in Sierra Madre is what it should be for a town that has the crime rate of Mayberry RFD. Its time to bring in the Sheriff's.

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    3. How $160,000 total compensation can be considered low is beyond me.

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    4. When people are leaving the department in droves, its not about low pay. Its about leadership or the absence thereof. Elisa Cox does not know what she is talking about which is part of the problem.

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    5. This is not about the pay. We pay too much as it is for what they do. Sierra Madre is not South Central. Come on. For the public employees like Elisa Cox, its only about the money. They always point to the neighboring city that pays more and tell us that's the "going rate" of what we have to pay our people. Well, that scam has been exposed. Following that philosophy is how these salaries keep leapfrogging ahead. All it takes is one city to play fast and loose with the taxpayers' money and now every union points to that city's pay in their negotiations. Its a scam and that's why municipalities all over the country are having severe financial problems. The number one problem for every city and state is the unfunded pension liabilities and the extravagant pay and benefits to the government employees. Do you think any of those employees or policeman in Sierra Madre care if we have to cut services to pay for all this or raise our taxes to pay for all this. They don't care a bit. They are opportunists who are always looking for a job and waiting to leave at the drop of a hat to join the next city that will give them a better deal.

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    6. Let's not forget that Arcadia, as well paid as they are, outsource to the Sheriff for a lot of things. My question to Elaine is, why Arcadia, why not just recommend the Sheriff WITHOUT the chief as a highly paid liason/

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    7. the simpleton lazy argument is to raise taxes

      give us more money

      protect our pensions first

      it's obvious that John C is confused and angry - he panders down to us like John B does

      Goss can no longer pretend and play Councilman for his research project, he actually has to get off his arse and do something

      Make the decisions but to tell us we have to pay more in taxes cause we "can't" get out of Calpers is insanity

      if we sue Calpers there might be allot of cities that would support us and join us, why is Calpers such a big bad scary entity?



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  4. I'm betting on #2.

    Too bad no one will take my bet.

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    Replies
    1. John Capoccia is already on record stating that even if the 10% UUT passes, it is not enough. Well, looks like Arcadia PD will fill the gap until the Sheriff's dept. can be brought in. Which should be much sooner rather than later.

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    2. Its never enough. The expenses and salaries will always rise to meet the income you give government. That's the way it works and always has. The only way to rein in the abuse and have reasonable salaries, benefits and pension for the workers is to starve them of money. No other solution will work because the system is corrupt.

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  5. What if John Capoccia blames the residents for the SMPD skedaddle for doing what he told them to do in 2012? Vote against the utility tax hike?

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  6. it made the 11 :00 news on tv last night

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    Replies
    1. What channel?

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    2. Maybe the TV news vans will be in town today getting some interviews.

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    3. We need to have the lowest UUT possible. This is all a smokescreen to scare the residents.

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  7. Wow..great story Terry Miller.
    We are lucky to have superior reporters like Crawford and Miller.....unlike the mainstream media.
    Kudos Terry and John

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    Replies
    1. I wonder what Susan Henderson's spin on this one will be.

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    2. The spin will be whatever the City tells her to say. She makes money from the city so objectivity goes out the window.

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  8. Lock and load Sierra Madre...we're on our own until they sheriffs get here or the Arcadia Police.
    Call 912 if you have a serious problem, otherwise call the mayor.

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    Replies
    1. Is 912 even better than 911?

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    2. Its one better due to inflation

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    3. I called 912 and got the PD station. They said nobody was there.

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    4. 'lock and load'? paranoid

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    5. Living in a city where the police cannot provide adequate overnight coverage will do that to people.

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  9. Did Detective Amos leave?

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    Replies
    1. I think he's down at the range practicing his aim.

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    2. the vehicle the dude was sleeping was a Murano. Our Keystone cops claimed that they couldn't see inside of it. That was either a lie or bold face incompetence cause I own a Murano, it has multiple windows in the rear and easy to see in. Our cops just towed the car and when the guy tried to get out Officer Amos literally freaked out, pulled out his weapon, took the bullet from his front shirt pocket, loaded and shot the dude.

      and then gets promoted?

      only in the SMPD and it's union

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    3. What is worse is that the full story and it's cost will never be revealed to those who will pay for it - we taxpayers !

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    4. The consequences of what MaryAnn MacGillivray called the shenanigan years are now here. Of course City hall won't talk about it. They were in on it!

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  10. May half the force be with you.

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    1. Is the half of the force that left the dark side?

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    2. only working during daylight hours

      still able to write parking tickets and roust skateboarders

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  11. Miz Henderson has flown the coop and moved out of town. Who is running that paper anyways? As to Eliza Cox she is a good example of our city employees. Does a poor job and blames limited resources. Look to the building her office is in and tell me she would still have a job in the private sector.
    It all starts with leadership hers and Elaine Agulair's. Both should be shown the door...if it still works

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  12. Re: Is half the force that left...from the dark side? One can only hope. It's TIME! As far an unfunded retirement and heath plans, maybe it is better to say Underfunded...I know that my pension and health care came from a diversion from my salary...so I did in fact pay for it, prorated over time to the point I am collecting it now and paying income tax on it now as it is part of my "income." No rich life-style afforded but I am happily comfortable living the mantra of my depression era parents: when times are tough, live well below your means. PS.. Vote NO on the UUT...help the city live well below its means. There is a fancy-pants library down in the Culver City area that will no doubt be closing its door as the Casino falters and that tax revenue drys up. When will the city leaders ever learn? Never?

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    1. Culver City has an 11% UUT. It's never enough.

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  13. Then we must teach them a lesson they will learn, no more taxes. No on the UUT measure.

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    1. my reason is because until this city, school district, county and the state does something about Calpers, I don't care what the issue or cause is, I'll always vote NO.

      Calpers is a rip off to taxpayers. If it were profiled on American Greed it'd be a ponzi scheme

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    2. CalPERS is a big city pension plan that a handful of idiots brought to Sierra Madre a few years back. That they were city employees who wanted to pad their pensions is no coincidence. Their self-serving greed has now put this city into grave financial jeopardy. SMPD cops bailing out for other cities is an obvious consequence of that. You'd have to be a fool not to see it.

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  14. The "Civility" crowd slam the zero UUT call but actually it is the best hope of saving Sierra Madre. If we continue with incompetent and overspending City management it will end in BK. So there is a choice before us...

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  15. Agreed. This is our chance to deal with the police services costs preventing us from investind in things that will improve our civic lives.

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  16. Look how fat that one guy on the left is. How could protect or serve anyone when he can't even take care of himself.

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    Replies
    1. He's in charge of the Donut Bureau.

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    2. Great mature comments. I bet both of you are the perfect picture of beauty.

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  17. I must feel that Elaine has known this for months. If the CC is just now being made aware of this than they are lacking. Somehow I think they all knew this was a problem. I also feel that the PD is as poorly managed as the city manager. I'm at a loss for words.

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  18. SIERRA MADRE TAXPAYERS ARE GETTING MISINFORMATION FROM THE CITY COUNCIL & CITY MANAGER!!!

    UUT BALLOT - If Sierra Madre City Hall chooses NOT abide by CALIFORNIA STATE LAW, and choose not to place the UUT TAX ON THE BALLOT BY NO LATTER THAT JUNE 2016, then our city hall is in violation of California State Law.

    Mr mayor, its not your choice, April 2018 is not an acceptable date!

    Howard Jarvis, our friends in Sacramento have been notified and have stated that June 2016 is the latest date for Sierra Madre City Council to comply with California State Law.

    If city hall fails to comply, It appears that there will be more legal issues for city hall to deal with. at more expense to the taxpayers!

    As we speak, Howard Jarvis office is writing new law to protect the taxpayer! and further states that most of the cities in the state of California are insolvent, its all about the unfunded liabilities & Pensions which all cities will be forced to deal with sooner than latter!!

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    Replies
    1. Calm down - you don't understand. Elaine does not care about complying with any law nor Mr.Jarvis. That is is the fundamental problem - never a consequence to her for any incompetence,negligence or worse.

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  19. we have NO LEADERS, WE NEED A LEADER TO MAKE SIERRA MADRE "GREAT AGAIN"

    City hall must reduce its spending, that means lawsuits, salaries, Pensions, health and death benefits.

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    Replies
    1. "Make Sierra Madre great again"... Let's get Donald Trump in here. Or Palin...she doesn't seem to be doing much these days, would fit in well at City hall.

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  20. It's a results of incompetence! Our city has continued to have bad leadership and has continued to make poor decissions. ItS no different that the mayors speach at the last city council meeting.... I let those guys have it, they did not know that they stopped at the mayors house to request UUT petition signatures, they lied and told me that the Sierra Madre head libraryian has a package of $157 K a year. Jon your in denial, your part of the problem!

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  21. This topics theme "SIERRA MADRE TAXPAYERS ARE GETTING MISINFORMATION FROM THE CITY COUNCIL & CITY MANAGER!" is a all to common to so many cities in SoCal or even California it's time to stop this run away spending madness.

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  22. As a taxpayer, I am requesting that each cc member make a statement on the tattler an sign their name to it. O by the way, cc has failed to notify the taxpayers of the content of lead in our water, what is it John?

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    1. I am requesting that each cc member make a statement on the tattler an sign their name to it. That's not gunna happen lol CC members don't usually troll blogs

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    2. The Librarian/Community Servicea Directory salary is probably $157K with benefits and Calpers figured in, salary ranges up to $105 so it is basically a corrrect statement.

      Also at the Library you have a Services Manager $61-76K, Librarian $49-59K,, and Lib Tech $32-39K before benefits and Calpers.

      Not sure what the high paid director does, but with the others I find it hard to believe the what is doled out to those involved in checking out books, selecting new materials, and providing reference help to the public.

      I'm not sure a good employee requires a bachelors degree, rather than a few years working at Barnes and Noble

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  23. Silly boy. Do you really think they will tell the truth about the lead?
    They lie about so many issues, why would lead content of water in Sierra Madre be any different?
    Just buy a simple lead testing kit. $10 at Home Depot "Pro-Lab" brand ,Aisle 31, Bay 12.
    The only way to force the lead issue is with truth and data. If 10 Tattlers all tested their water and published the results here, we would have the evidence required.

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    1. Sounds like Flint, Michigan. Lead?, but our Public Works Dept. wouldn't lie to us, WOULD they?

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    2. Great idea 1:14
      Those water testers work.

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  24. Jon co po co, we we would like to hear from you. We are looking for more statements that everything is fine and that you and staff are doing s fine job.

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  25. Maybe our cc members and our city manager will be forced to strap on a uniform and gun, walk the streets, in order that they can keep our city safe???

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  26. Dear SMPD, can we revisit that whole "response time" debate?

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    Replies
    1. You mean the big fib where the Sheriffs will take a long time to get here because they'll be in Temple City?

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    2. Yeah, that one. I mean (setting aside the fib part) they might have mentioned they would only be faster than the sheriffs if it wasn't dark outside.

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  27. It's about leadership from City Hall to the Police. A place where low level supervisors and officers are messed with and sold out. Many caring, good people who worked with SMPD for years were forced out. The few who are left won't talk because they're afraid to loose their jobs; those who have left don't want to talk and jeopardize their new careers. As to the whole shooting incident, there are many aspects to that matter: a man in a stolen vehicle who hid under items and did not respond to the police orders to come out or show his hands did not hold a weapon. Even in Mayberry, police work is not always the safe, nothing happens place; it has been dangerous, at times, for the police who have put their lives on the line for the Foothill Village; you just don't hear about the real crime.

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