By Terry Miller
Sierra Madre Weekly has learned that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will likely be entering into a contract with the city of Sierra Madre for temporary deputy patrol services between February 28-June 30.
The news came swiftly after Arcadia council last week turned down Sierra Madre’s request for assistance. Deputies will patrol the foothill city streets between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
According to numerous sources, the 12-hour shift contract was approved by the Sheriff’s dept. and is under review by Sierra Madre’s city attorney and will probably be on the next Sierra Madre council meeting agenda on Feb. 23 just in time for the service to begin that following Sunday, Feb. 28.
A phone call to the Sheriff’s Dept. Contracts Law Services confirmed that a contract has been drawn up and executed and is now under review with Sierra Madre’s city attorney. Lieutenant Squire told Sierra Madre Weekly that a contract has been drawn and is under consideration and as far as he knows, is in the hands of city officials to review.
The troubles at SMPD have been long and serious, including multiple lawsuits both externally, towards the department from citizens, and internally, from the department against the former chief of police, Marilyn Diaz. Additionally, the tiny city has little sales tax base, unlike neighboring cities such as Arcadia. It is a tough time indeed for the embattled little city. Assistant City Manager Elisa Cox told Sierra Madre Weekly on Friday, Jan. 22, that the city is actively seeking new police recruits from the academy but freely admitted, “other cities pay considerably more than SMPD, so this is key in the dilemma the city’s chief executives face.”
Cox also said the election and the Utility User Tax (UUT) will, of course, play a crucial role in deciding the fate of the police.
Elaine Aguilar had this to say in an email comment on this story: “The City of Sierra Madre has not entered into a contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. However, an update regarding Sierra Madre’s police services was provided at the February 9th City Council meeting. Here is the link to the staff report: http://cityofsierramadre.hosted.civiclive.com/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=2547870
“As was indicated in City’s the February 9th staff report, Sierra Madre officers are currently patrolling the streets 24/7, but they are working overtime at a pace that cannot be sustained, so it is necessary to secure supplemental, temporary assistance. The staff report indicated that the Sheriff’s department had been contacted. The report also states that the contract for supplemental services would be on the Council’s February 23rd agenda and the contract would most likely be with the Sheriff’s Department, because similar to Sierra Madre, other San Gabriel Valley Police Departments are also not at full staffing levels. Sierra Madre City Council agenda and staff reports are available on the City’s website at least 72 hours before the meeting.”
Mayor John Capoccia also commented via email, “At Tuesday’s Council meeting, Public Safety Director Giannone did advise the council that a contract for supplemental services will be presented at our next meeting.
“I agree with Assistant City Manager Cox. The upcoming measure to set our UUT at 10% will be crucial for Sierra Madreans to keep our own independent Police Department.”