October 8, 2007

A Power Grab or a ploy?

I guess the taxpayers have no say in this even though this is likely a just an attempt to give an immediate pay raise to hundreds of "officers". This tactic/ploy has been used again and again. Municipal court judges all became "superior court" judges a few years back and of course in the process boosted their pay significantly up to the superior court level. The government efficiency wizards made all kinds of promises as to how things would be better once the transition was made. Result? What do you think? Nothing. No change in how fast courts process cases or the quality of the results. Also given all the stories on LAAG about Baca's mismanagement, from the jails to Paris Hilton to "arrest contests" how could anybody in their right mind claim he is a good manager? The only good idea comes from the Sheriff's department themselves (not Baca of course): just outsource these glorified security guards to the private sector and save a few hundred million in salary, health and pension costs so we could pour it into the bottomless pit that is Martin Luther "killer King" hospital. Dont forget how much better airport security got once we "federalized" (i.e. boosted pay and pensions) for luggage screeners. Oh man dont get me going...

From the Los Angeles Times
Baca may try to expand department
The L.A. County sheriff, whose agency is already the largest in the nation, assigns a team to explore taking over the Office of Public Safety.
By Stuart Pfeifer
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

October 8, 2007

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, who already leads the largest sheriff's department in the nation, may soon try to make his agency even bigger.

At the request of the county's top administrator, Baca has assigned a team to explore taking over the county Office of Public Safety, a police force that patrols parks, hospitals and government buildings.

Although relatively obscure, it is the fourth-largest police department in the county, with more than 460 sworn officers. It is led by a high-profile chief, Margaret York, a former top-ranking Los Angeles Police Department executive whose work as an LAPD detective was the inspiration for the television series "Cagney and Lacey." She's married to Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Lance Ito.

York's department has been under pressure. It has struggled to keep officers on the force in part because it pays far less than other agencies, including the Sheriff's Department. Veteran county police officers draw base salaries of about $52,000 compared with $76,000 for sheriff's deputies. County police officers recently lost a lawsuit that sought to bring their pay in line with that of sheriff's deputies.

Also, a sergeant filed a federal lawsuit against the department last year, alleging that he was denied promotion because he annoyed supervisors by reporting misconduct by fellow officers.

Among Sgt. Richard Robinson's allegations: that an officer worked security for the Los Angeles Clippers while on the clock as a county police officer, that police executives drove county cars to a bar and drank while on duty and that officers covered up instances of excessive force against suspects.

A sergeant assigned to work for York reportedly said that Robinson was a top employee but "would never be promoted because he reports too much misconduct," according to a declaration in the lawsuit. The case has not yet gone to trial.

Neither Robinson nor York would discuss the lawsuit -- or the outcome of internal affairs investigations into the alleged misconduct he reported. "We take all allegations of misconduct very seriously," York said.

County Chief Executive Officer William T Fujioka said a Sheriff's Department takeover is one of several options he's considering. The county police currently report to the CEO's office, an arrangement that Fujioka finds uncomfortable.

"I'm not a law enforcement person," Fujioka said. "The sheriff is our chief law enforcement officer. He knows how to supervise a law enforcement or security function. It seems to me it would be appropriate to look at that as one of the options."

For the last few weeks, sheriff's employees have been visiting facilities that the county police supervise to determine how much a merger would cost. The Board of Supervisors would ultimately decide whether a merger was appropriate.

Sheriff's Capt. Edward Rogner said the department could save money if it had security guards perform some of the functions now handled by sworn officers. He said he expects to complete a report by early November.

If a merger took place, it would be one of the largest in Sheriff's Department history -- and the third since Baca took office in 1998. He also supervised takeovers of the Compton Police Department and the community college police force, adding a combined 200 deputy positions. The Sheriff's Department has more than 9,100 sworn deputies.

York said she believes her department is performing well, but she is not opposed to a merger.

"I'm very proud of the officers we have," she said. "We have officers who are educated. We have officers who are bright. We have officers who are very committed to public service.

"Whether we become deputies or remain as a separate department, I'd be willing to put my officers up against any officers in the country."


Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | www.LAAG.us | Lakewood, CA
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