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City to compare costs for contract with sheriff’s department

The city council will consider the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department at its meeting Tuesday, February 11.

City Clerk Shelley Desautels, who previously said the issue was tentatively scheduled for the first meeting in February, noted it was not about considering an approval of a contract with LASD.

“It’s to inquire and compare costs,” she said.

Contracting with the sheriff’s department has been a fairly consistent issue that was amplified during the Measure CR election.

Supporters of contracting with the sheriff have said it would save millions for the city, which is in the midst of a continuing budget crisis and is projecting a $2.8 million deficit in 2023.

Supporters of the Claremont Police Department have contended that keeping a local, community-based police department, where many of the officers are Claremont residents or natives, is vital.

The issue dominated public comment during the last council meeting. Frank DeLeo, who currently sits on the police commission, said that while he respects the hard decisions that have to be made during a budget crisis, he implored the council to reject the sheriff’s department.

“I really think going to county would be a long-range disaster,” Mr. DeLeo said. “No disrespect to the county sheriff and his people.”

Barbara Musselman, who served on the police commission for 10 years, cautioned the city council to “look carefully in outsourcing the police.” She noted that after the fatal shooting of Irvin Landrum in 1999, the Claremont Police Department has reconfigured to the community-based policing practices they are known for today.

“For people who think they’re going to save money, I would ask them to look at the mismanagement of the budget of the current sheriff,” Ms. Musselman said. “I would also have them take a look at the kind of hiring practices and the employment practices [LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva] has conducted since he has become sheriff. And we have no control over that once we lose it.”

Sheriff Villanueva has been the target of criticism since winning the sheriff position in 2018. He was criticized for re-hiring Deputy Caren Carl Mandoyan, who was accused of domestic violence and stalking and was fired by former Sheriff Jim McDonnell, according to the Los Angeles Times. The LA Times also reported that the LA County Board of Supervisors voted to freeze a portion of the sheriff’s spending in October 2019 following a $63 million budget shortfall.

Al Villanueva (no relation to Sheriff Villanueva) noted during public comment that the sheriff’s department has a negative track record with communities of color over the years, and the Claremont Police Department is the “premier police department in the Pomona Valley.”

“I urge you not to even consider that, because it would create a lot of problems here in the city of Claremont,” Mr. Villanueva said.

Mayor Larry Schroeder briefly addressed the issue after the public comment period concluded, advising those in the audience to “watch this space.”

“There will be a conversation about law enforcement under our police department and the sheriff at a meeting in the very near future,” Mr. Schroeder said. “Please watch for that and please come out and express your opinions at that meeting.”

The council meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers, 225 W. Second St. A public comment period will be offered.

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

[Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story appeared in the print edition. —KD]

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