LA County Board of Supervisors LASD Law Enforcement

Are LA County Tax Payers Getting What They've Paid for When it Comes to the Sheriff's Department? Or Are Some Areas Getting Preferential Treatment?


The fact that the residents of the unincorporated areas of LA County appear not getting the patrol services from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department that they have paid for was a cause for angry frustration at last week’s LA County Supervisors meeting. The frustration level shot still higher at Tuesday’s meeting after a newly released county audit showed in hard numbers that sheriff’s patrols had, indeed, been cut substantially in the unincorporated areas when the sheriff was running over budget and needed to snip some spending. As a consequence, the department’s response time for the county’s unincorporated communities was a full minute slower than that of the contract cities the LASD serves, which did not receive cuts.

Last week, Supervisor Gloria Molina had questioned the sheriff angrily on the issue since some of the crime-prone areas in her district were among those the most affected. This week, it was Zev Yaroslavsky who first opened fire (although the sheriff wasn’t in attendance).

“I don’t believe that the sheriff’s department has undertaken a serious effort to prioritize their spending,” said a very irritated Zev. “You cannot tell me that the first place that the department has to cut when they’re overspending their budget is patrol. That just doesn’t make sense!”

LASD sources we spoke on the budget issue said Yaroslavsky is right, that the department has a habit of loaning deputies from patrol and other basic departmental functions to pet projects favored by the sheriff and/or the undersheriff, whether the department can afford to do so or not. They said that inadequate patrols in the unincorporated areas are one of the unintended results. Years of under-supervised jails are another.


The 18-page audit, issued January 25 by the county’s Auditor-Controller, Wendy Watanabe, laid out specifically the amount of policing services the unincorporated areas of LA County are receiving from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, and how that policing compares to the services received by the so-called the “contract cities,” for which the LASD also provides law enforcement.

The supes were understandably unhappy to find that the unincorporated areas (or U/As as the audit called them) were measurably receiving the short end of the stick when it came to LASD patrols, response time, and more.

For instance, there was the aforementioned response time to an emergency call: in the unincorporated areas it was 5.8 minutes, whereas in the contract cities it was 4.8 minutes—a difference of 17 percent, or an average of a minute.

Overall, on a day-to-day basis, the contract cities got an average of 99 percent of the patrol hours and personnel they were promised. Whereas the stepchild U/A’s got an average of 91 percent of the promised patrol services that their taxes were funding. For some unincorporated areas like Santa Clarita, Pico Rivera and Malibu/Lost Hills that figure was somewhere in the 83-89 percent range.

When Sheriff Baca was asked about the discrepancy, he explained that the cuts to his budget in the last couple of years had caused him to have to slash 65 people out of patrol for the unincorporated areas, and that had slowed down the response time.

The sheriff did not explain, however, why the department had not seen fit to make commensurate cuts in the contract cities.

By the end of last week’s meeting, the supervisors agreed to order a forensic audit of the LASD to find out just where in the world the sheriff’s money was going, and what budget items were so essential that they could have necessitated the U/A patrol cuts.


For those of you who don’t remember (or never were clear on the matter in the first place), the policing of the various areas in LA County falls into three different categories: First, there are the incorporated cities that have their own police forces. These include Los Angeles, Long Beach, Inglewood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Pasadena, Gardena and more.

Then there are the many unincorporated areas of the county like parts of Whittier at the eastern end, and Agoura, Calabasas and Las Virgines Canyon toward the west, with a long list of communities in between. The sheriff’s department provides policing for all these areas. In fact, at a core level, policing the U/As is arguably the department’s primary raison d’etre.

Then in a third category, there are the incorporated cities that don’t have their own police departments but instead pay the sheriff’s department on a contract basis to provide their law enforcement services. These are the 42 “contract cities.”

It’s important to note, however, that the contracts are purely discretionary on the part of both parties. Again, the sheriff’s department is required to provide policing services for the U/As, yet not required to agree to police any of the contract cities. He enters into those contracts because he chooses to do so.

Hence the supervisors were upset when they discovered the U/A patrol services were slashed while those provided for the contract cities remained intact.


To make matters worse, according to the auditor-controller’s report, the U/As were not only having their services cut, they were in part footing the bill for the contract cities, which it seems are only paying $371 million for their services, while it costs the county $552 million to actually provide the services.

Part of this was because state law won’t let the county bill the contract cities for non-patrol services provided countywide—things like the Homicide Bureau, the Major Crimes Bureau, Narcotics, Internal Affairs, and so on, even though the contract cities benefit as much as the U/A does.

Nor did the department bill the cities for the shared costs that were related to patrol—like Aero Bureau (the department’s air support service) and Special Enforcement Units, or for the basic shared budget items like the costs of operating the various sheriff’s stations.

All those countywide expenses were charged 100 percent to the U/As, according to Watanabe.


This week, the sheriff reportedly was moving LASD personnel around to rectify the problem. According to department spokesman Steve Whitmore, 22 officers have come out of GET—the sheriff’s gang enforcement unit. Evidently the GET officers had originally been pulled out of patrol and loaned to the gang detail. Now those 22 were being returned to their rightful posts, with more perhaps to follow.

It was floated earlier that another 90 were coming out of administrative posts, but Whitmore said Wednesday that no such large scale moves had, in fact, been made. “The sheriff wants to maximize coverage,” he said, adding that Baca wanted to get a better handle on the situation before making any more big changes.

Sheriff’s department sources say that part of the problem is that, in the last few years, personnel have been pulled in large numbers out of patrol and, as with the GET officers, sent on long-term loan to other units that, for one reason or another, the sheriff or undersheriff personally favored, but which were, in many cases, less than crucial. So, although these people were on the books as being at the various patrol stations, in practical fact they were working elsewhere—and the U/As suffered.

Whitmore admits to the long term loans, but disagrees with the rest.

“There is no fat in this department,” Whitmore said. “So redeployment is a challenge.”


Judging by what Yaroslavsky, Molina and others have said in the last two weeks, the supervisors no longer seem to buy the “no fat,” concept, and are hoping that an audit will give them a more accurate picture than they believe they are getting from the sheriff.

Department insiders, however, tell us that in order to get to get the real figures regarding where and how the LASD spends its $2.4 billion budget, it is essential for the forensic auditors to have guides who know the ins and outs of the department’s finance secrets.

“Otherwise, they’ll hide and disguise the stuff they don’t want you to see,” said a department source. “That’s what happened the last time the supervisors ordered an audit.”

With those warnings in mind, we at WLA would like to respectfully suggest to the Board of Supervisors that it make sure its auditors avail themselves of just such consultants.

Photo by Mussklprozz, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


  • “Sheriff’s department sources say that, part of the problem is that, in the last few years, personnel have been pulled in large numbers out of patrol and sent on long-term loan to other units that, for one reason or another, the sheriff or undersheriff personally favored, but which were less than CRUCIAL”

    Yea…Ok. I guess being “On-Loan” to INTERNAL AFFAIRS is not CRUCIAL. Make up your mind. Do you really want reform or is it all political smoke and mirrors. It’s all becoming clear. Get Real.

    FUND the LASD Gloria & Zev! You are the problem. We think the Feds should knock on your door next.

  • Thank goodness for the audit. Now maybe the Sheriff can quit CARPING his people every week and the Supervisors will FINALLY quit slashing LASD funds to fund their OWN personal projects. I guess we will also see if the Supervisor’s vision with changing the jail culture with Educational Based Incarceration for inmates is worth keeping and funding, since it has been UNFUNDED up to now and paid for out of the Sheriff’s budget. I for one think if it comes to putting bad guys in jail or teaching them, patrol wins…..we shall see….

  • GETREAL, being “On-Loan” to IAB is not necessarily in the taxpayer’s best interest, particularly when those loan items are there exclusively to scrub, whitewash, and shred anything and everything in sight that does not paint a pretty picture of the administration.

    Gloria and Zev have their share of problems, but they pale in comparison to the dynamic duo…

  • It will be interesting to see how much the department leverages its reserve program in response to this. Obviously these issues stem from how regular deputies are assigned and how money is prioritized, but we have 1-2 reserves at my station that make a huge impact to the call volume whenever they come in. The department claims to have 800+ reserves, but my sense is there are probably 50-100 or them department-wide that are pulling the weight. Beyond throwing reserves at unincorporated areas to improve the response time stats, the department should recognize the reserves that are really making a big difference at their patrol assignments and hold the others accountable for putting in their hours (in ways that actually matter). Again, this is just one way of getting at the problem, but if you have one reserve working per shift, that’s the equivalent of a full time body, and if they’re mainly taking the assist on calls it frees up regulars to be more productive and will dramatically increase the average response time as a result.

  • One other thing: I think you also need to look at how many sworn bodies are in non-patrol jobs. Not talking about custody here, but in station admin jobs, SHQ, etc. I don’t know, but perhaps we don’t need deputies working at Fleet, or in the radio room, or wherever else. I can understand how when times were fatter it was easier to justify such positions, but I think those kinds of basically non-law enforcement jobs should be the first to go when we’re tightening belts (particularly as opposed to taking detectives away from their case load, disbanding GET, etc.) To the extent a deputy perspective would be helpful at certain plates (maybe Fleet), that could be a volunteer gig someone does because it interests them or it’s beneficial to their career to have shown an interest in something (as would be the case in the private sector). But if the county meter is running, perhaps those bodies can do more good in a patrol car than behind a desk.

  • You think taking 28 GET people and dividing them up into three regions is going to make an impact? That number does not include IOD or ROD, so it actually is less. Even at 28 that is less than 10 Deputies per REGION. What is that one per station on one shift?
    Showboat, it is all showboat.
    Question if a contract city Deputy calls in sick and the city is below 98% on contract minutes what car do you bust?
    HMMMMM, a County car.

  • Just curious to know if anyone can recount how many millions of dollars that Gloria Molina and the other Supes cut from the LASD budget in each of the last three years? Does anyone have that info?

    Celeste, did any of your sources provide that info? I’m curious to see how that compares with any cuts made buy contract cities? It seems that the LASD provides the patrols that are paid for. So the contract cities would naturally get 100% of the services they paid for. But if Gloria Molina and the other Supes authorized major budget cuts over the last 3 years, how can they expect the same level of service as the 100% funded contracts? I hope someone has this info.


    Curious, Take a look at the audit (the link is in the text of the story), and I think you’ll find most of the answers you seek.

    The contracts are not 100 percent funded at all. Not even close.

    The contract cities are paying $371 million for their services, while it costs the county $552 million per year for the services that the contract folks receive.

    The audit show that it is the unincorporated areas that are getting hit with the cost of the contract city’s services, plus paying for their own services—and in return they get less in the way of service than the contract cities.

    Anyway, there you have it.

  • Celeste, thank you for the quick response, but I still don’t get how Gloria and the other Supes can cut millions and millions each and every year and still expect to receive the exact same level of service? How do you do that? And I believe there is some state law or court decision that mandates all counties to fund and provide “countywide services,” to ALL cities in the county, thus the disparity in the figures. It was mentioned in the Board meeting a week ago when Gloria was busy trying to disrespect the Sheriff with a challenge of him to name the law or decision. When he did she tried to ignore that fact.

    Also, I believe it’s a county department which answers to Gloria and the rest of the Supes that sets the rates that the contract cities must pay for each and every deputy that they purchase. That rate includes overhead costs that is supposed to cover all of the additional law enforcement costs that support the patrol operations. So again, they are entitled to get 100% of what they paid for. If a contract city cuts a patrol deputy out of their contract to save money, then they have one less deputy patrolling their city.

    So again, it would be nice to list the millions that the Board of Supervisors have cut from the LASD budget over the past three years!

  • Here is a simple example:

    If the city of Norwalk pays 10 million, they get 10 million in services. If they cut their Police Services budget by 2 million, then they only recieve 8 million in services.

    Likewise, if the County Board pays for police service, let’s say 5 million. They get 5 million in services. However, if they slash the Sheriff’s budget (as they have been for the last 3 years-to the tune of almost 200 million)then they lose budgeted items. It’s simple math. No secret.

    Now, with all the problems LASD is having and the Jail Commission findings, they need the money. The board of supes have hemoraged the department soo much that detectives are being CARPED to do patrol work, creating a back log in unsolved cases.

    Now, here is the simple solution: Los Angeles County Board Of Supes, show LASD funding. If not, than you too are culpable for the mishaps in their jails.

    Bring on the audit! Looking forward to it!!!

  • I too would like to see the entire picture, which would mean we’d need several years worth of budgets and a rundown on the various income streams, which would include the $$ from the county (Supes approved), the various federal grants, COPS and so on, the Homeland Security money, the AB109 money from the state, which in the last 2 fiscal years could be as much as $200 million, since nearly $400 million was being split between probation and LASD. (But I don’t know who got what in that split.). And on beyond that.

    But a really good forensic audit would be the place to start. Sunshine is nearly always beneficial.

    Frankly, the place that also could benefit from a nice forensic audit is LA County probation. Now there’s a fun agency to try to reform! If you remember, they’re the folks who misplaced a full third of their workforce a couple years back. An impressive feat!

    They’ve improved since then. (They painstakingly located all of the paid personnel.) But Chief Jerry Powers still has a daunting task in front of him. I hope he’s the guy for the job.

    Okay, night all.


  • Ask Santa Fe Springs about their police services. Block pissed the city off years ago and they contracted with Whittier.

    I think many cities would benefit with this partnership as the County, the Sheriff are full of bloat, overun spending and not always the greatest personnel patrolling the streets.

    Like many other states, the county sheriff is responsible for the county jails, nothing more. Maybe the citizens of LA County should be talking to their mayors.

  • Who’s kidding who here? It’s about the sheriff building an empire. Always has been, always will be. The contract cities go with the LASD because it’s cheaper than funding their own PD. Plain and simple. No other reason.
    The reason it’s cheaper for them is because the sheriff “moves things around and makes it work” because he wants those cities, and the people in them under his purview. Each and every contract city is full of potential campaign donors and voters for the sheriff.
    Show me a politician who says “I need to reduce the geographical area of my influence and have fewer people under my umbrella” in order to manage it effectively and I’ll show you an honest politician. Good luck finding them.
    How many contracts has the LASD, with all of it’s attendant budget problems, the ups and downs in funding, etc. added under it’s umbrella in the last 20 years?
    It seems the BOS and the sheriff, ALL elected politicians can’t effectively run what they’ve got, yet they add more every chance they get.
    The reason is simple. Politics. Bigger is better. The more people he can glad hand, the more city officials he can get political endorsements from, the better.
    He is expanding his area of influence in spite of the fact he can’t manage what he’s got.
    The ONLY thing the law says the sheriff must do is run the county jail system and provide law enforcement services for the unincorporated areas of the county.
    So why the 42 contract cities? Why the hassle and problems that go with policing the coontract cities?
    I think any realistic intelligent person can figure that out.
    It means political power, with a capital P, for the sheriff.
    And the LA County taxpayers are the ones who foot the bill, and get the short end of the stick, while the contract cities make out like bandits.

  • Various federal grants, COPS, Homeland Security money and AB109 funds SHOULD NOT be utilized as supplements to the Sheriff’s Budget.

    If the Board Of Supes purposely shorted the sheriff so he could supplement the loss with various grants (instead of a steady revenue stream), stand by.

    The Board Of Supes would be in BIG trouble if they did that under federal law. I agree, a good forensic audit be beneficial.

  • REALLY: Contrary to popular belief, the department’s education based incarceration unit is NOT UNFUNDED. Most of the items are paid for by the Imate Welfare fund, which is funded by… You guessed it, the inmates….. This is done through commissary, phones, and other means. The rest of the unit was funded by AB 109 money…. So let’s get our facts straight. The inmate education programs aren’t UNFUNDED, and are not “out of hide” items like those in GET and other details. And if helping someone better themselves while they’re in jail is wrong, then I don’t know what would be right.

  • Well I guess no one wants to report on all of the millions that the Board of Supervisors have cut from the LASD budget over the past few years. The numbers I have heard are somewhere around a $126,000,000.00 cut three fiscal years ago, followed by about a $96,000,000.00 cut last fiscal year, and I believe I heard an additional $140,000,000.00 this current fiscal year. So if these numbers are even close to being accurate, the BOS have cut over $350 MILLION dollars from the LASD budget!

    And Gloria Molina has the audacity to try to deflect attention by calling for an audit to explain why the unincorporated areas have a slightly longer response time compared to contract cities who fund their contracts 100%? Come on C., even you can see through this political B.S., but then again, Gloria has an agenda and I guess if it fits, then jump on the band wagon, right?

    Anyway, a forensic audit will reveal that the reduced funding that the LASD still receives from the BOS is being still being stretched and spent appropriately. Meanwhile, the other audits continue to comeback clearing the LASD of all of the most outrageous allegations. What does the BOS do with these audit results? They “receive and file” after making all kinds of public statements of “outrage” on the initial allegations and then try to shift to a new subject. Meanwhile, the unincorporated area residents continue to be underserved by the BOS which is why so many want to incorporate and control their own destiny, or annex away from the county into a city, usually a contract city (just look at Santa Clarita), so they can receive the levels of policing and other basic services that their taxes pay for and what they rightly deserve, and without the political agendas.

  • # 16 – RIGHT ON POINT!

    I think a forensic audit would benefit the LASD and straigten out the BOS. I really hope the feds investigate them for not funding the LASD and other county departments suffiently. Gloria Molina leads by politics and not principle. Her inablity to manage her budget and serve county residents have been apparent.

    Thank God her term is up in 2014. Attention County Residents:


  • Knowing that their budget is being cut by the BOS and that contract cities do not fully fund the police services they get, LASD should be making doubly sure that they are not providing service to the contract cities at the expense of the UAs.

    The contract cities may be willing to pay for as many officers as they feel they need, but has LASD ever told one “Sorry, but we can’t provide that many officers without reducing service in the UAs”?

  • The Sheriff tried to help the County and the BOS by making his Detectives and just about every deputy work somewhere else once a week to once a month (CARP) the last couple years. The BOS just took more money from the Sheriff. Most Deputies or Detectives, all the way to the Captains have had to let their regular duties suffer so CARPING can occur. That means search warrants, case filings, administrative duties take a back seat so Gloria Molina and the other BOS can have more revenue and the SHERIFF dosent have to lay ANYONE OFF. The Sheriff should be applauded for not LAYING OFF people during the most difficult fiscal times in recent memory. Gloria Molina likes to throw inflammatory words around like STEAL when addressing the SHERIFF but if anyone has STOLEN revenue it is MOLINA and the BOS who have taken/cut 300 million in three years from the SHERIFF. After the audit, stop the CARPING and restore LASD funding so the men and Wei on can get back to work. AND WLA, WATCH MOLINA CLOSELY AS SHE LOOKS AT WAYS TO CREATE A COUNTY AREA CITIZEN’S COUNCIL THAT SHE CAN BE ELECTED TOO AFTER SHE TERMS OUT…..THAT IS HER TRUE MOTIVES…

  • […] » Blog Archive » Are LA County Tax Payers Getting … – Jan 31, 2013 … … be the first to go when we're tightening belts (particularly as opposed to … However, if they slash the Sheriff's budget (as they have been for the last 3 years- to the tune of … The rest of the unit was funded by AB 109 money… […]

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