Pomona decision

Cheers greet council vote
Monica Rodriguez, Staff Writer
Created: 08/03/2010 06:32:35 PM PDT

POMONA – After weeks of uncertainty, the City Council has decided to leave the responsibility of policing the city to its Police Department.

Council members voted unanimously Monday night to follow the recommendation of city administrators and not place a measure on the Nov. 2 ballot asking voters whether they wanted to contract for law enforcement services with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Council members also directed city staff to cease further research on contracting with the Sheriff’s Department.

The vote came after a number of residents spoke in favor of maintaining the Police Department.

But before the council began to hear residents’ comments, Councilwoman Paula Lantz made the motion the council eventually approved, drawing cheers and applause from the audience, which spilled outside the City Council Chambers.

Supporting Lantz’s motion was Councilman Tim Saunders.

“Without question or a doubt I want to keep our Police Department,” Saunders said, prompting Mayor Elliott Rothman to ask if he was supporting Lantz’s motion.

“It certainly was a second,” Saunders said.

After taking comments from more than a dozen speakers, council members voted in support of Lantz’s motion. That prompted another burst of cheers from the audience.

Following the decision, Pomona Police Officers’ Association President Rob Baker said it’s now time to rebuild relationships with council members.

“We already have such a fantastic relationship with the community. We absolutely have to work together to survive,” Baker said.

During the meeting, the consultant who participated in the review of the Sheriff’s Department estimate for law enforcement services addressed the council.

Joseph De Ladurantey, senior vice president of the consulting firm Willdan Homeland Solutions, said it was difficult to compare the Police Department and the Sheriff’s Department.

“You have a large economy of scale,” he said, referring to the Sheriff’s Department.

In making a decision the council had to consider several matters, including local control, De Ladurantey said.

A municipal police department tends to have much stronger ties with the community it serves and the level of accountability is greater because a police chief reports to the city manager, he said.

“In the Sheriff’s Department a captain provides information to the city manager but answers to the sheriff,” he said.

The city could opt to contract with the county but should a future council wish to revert back to a municipal police department, doing so would cost a considerable amount, De Ladurantey said.

Among those who addressed the council Monday was Deborah Clifford, who said that in more than two decades as a resident of the city this issue has done something to the population.

Residents from across the city have come together to oppose converting to the Sheriff’s Department, Clifford said.

“You have a constituency that’s not going to forget this issue,” she said. “It’s time to declare this issue dead on arrival.”

Stacey Cue, labor relations representative with the San Bernardino Public Employees Association, spoke on behalf of the city’s general services employees, which the union represents.

Switching to the Sheriff’s Department would mean significant reductions in civilian personnel that provide services to members of the public, she said.

The city would be giving up a great deal and “contracting may cost more money,” she said.

What the city must do is prepare for the future, Cue said.

“It’s time to look forward and rebuild Pomona,” she said.

Councilwoman Cristina Carrizosa expressed concerns about costs.

“Are we going to be financially able to sustain the department and personnel,” particularly if the economy does not improve, Carrizosa asked.

City Manager Linda Lowry said concessions negotiated with the Pomona Police Officers’ Association, along with other employee groups were part of year-long agreements.

In preparing for the next budget, labor negotiations must begin early this fall, she said.

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