Sheriff Villanueva Announces LASD Budget Underfunded by $400 Million
During one of his weekly press conferences, broadcast Monday, May 4, 2020, from the Sherman Block Building, Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced the Board of Supervisors’ release of a portion of frozen service and supply funds, and discussed the impact their recommended 2020-2021 budget would have on our agency and the services we provide. The $3.9 billion it costs to provide law enforcement services, subtracted from the recommended budget of $3.5 billion, would leave a staggering $400 million gap.
The Sheriff outlined what underfunding would mean for the Department and its financial impact:
· Reduction of academy classes from 12 to eight, to offer an approximate $21.9 million savings per year;
· Patrol Division cuts. With 191 positions already going unfunded, 137 of them would be integrated into funded line positions in two phases; first with 35, second with 102, to provide a yearly saving of around $22.8 million;
· Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST) cuts. Instead of the intended increase of team members to 40 positions, the currently unfunded ten positions would be slashed to six bodies, which are funded through AB-109. This offers a yearly cost savings of $1.4 million;
· Altadena Sheriff’s Station would be closed, garnering an annual $6.3 million savings;
· Marina del Rey Sheriff’s Station would be closed, garnering an annual $5.9 million savings;
· Elimination of other unfunded full-time patrol positions, including:
o Youth Activities League (YAL)
o School resource deputy
o Vital Intervention and Directional Alternatives (VIDA)
o Nuisance abatement
o Community Relations Team
o Search and rescue coordinator
· Parks Bureau would be eliminated. Slashing law enforcement services presently dedicated to providing a safe and drug free environment at all Los Angeles County parks, golf courses and special venues will offer a $32.5 million savings. The areas would become the responsibility of the patrol station in which they lie;
· Community Partnership Bureau (COPS) would be eliminated. COPS teams provide supplemental services to residences in our unincorporated areas, specifically addressing the unique and individual needs of each area by identifying crime trends, and quality of life and crime trends. Cutting this bureau would offer a $30 million savings;
· Curtailment of Detective Division positions. Personnel who investigate some of the most heinous crimes, identify dangerous trends, and create new and updated ways of protection against them would be reassigned to fill a funded vacancy elsewhere in our Department. The savings are clearly substantial:
o Special Victims Bureau, $23.5 million
§ Human trafficking
§ Child abuse
§ Sexual assaults
o Operation Safe Streets (Gang Investigations Bureau), $38.8 million
o Fraud and Cyber Crimes Bureau, $13.4 million
o Major Crimes Bureau, $22.1 million
While some of these positions are not directly patrol-related, they are part of programs proven to make the communities we serve safer, improve quality of life county-wide, help us sustain life, keep us in direct contact with the public, and help us meet their needs. With a shortage of monies, however, personnel currently assigned to the aforementioned positions will be reassigned, to fill line patrol vacancies and meet basic staffing needs.
With an already-existing vacancy of 712 sworn positions, a budget reduction would reduce academy classes and shrink our agency by an average of 160 deputies per year. “These are not negotiable positions,” said the Sheriff. “These are the line jobs on the Department. These are your deputies working patrol, the deputies working in custody, the detectives out there in the field doing investigations. These are not positions we can just wish away because they’re inconvenient.”
Deficits exist because of large mandatory costs, such as trial court security ($77 million), worker’s compensation ($72.3 million), retirement payouts ($22.7 million), federal lawsuit compliance ($34.9 million), SB-1421 compliance ($3.8 million), and custody mandates ($49.6 million), as well as additional costs for essentials such as helicopter fleet maintenance ($23 million) and mobile radio replacement ($27.4 million).
Sheriff Villanueva covered a variety of topics, with a heavy emphasis on the effects of what a reduced budget will bring. We can tighten our belt and creatively shuffle personnel to alleviate the sting of a fiscal deficit, but ultimately, it is the public who would be impacted by a compromised allowance. And there is no benefit in that.