Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Our safety. Our police.

Pomona City Council voted last night to move forward with a Phase I study to evaluate some of the costs associated with outsourcing Pomona's police work to the LA County Sheriff.

I'm a fan of data. Good data can help make good decisions. However, after listening to nearly 40 speakers from the community and to the Q&A between Council and city staff, I have strong reservations about the quality, and hence the usefulness, of the data this Phase I study will provide.

First, the Sheriff's department will be playing the dual role of evaluator and evaluated. They are conducting the study on themselves. As speakers pointed out last night, this is a conflict of interest. We are taught to be suspicious of drug trials payed for by pharmaceutical companies for a reason. This "study" is a basic sales job. A pitch for a product/service.

Second, the Phase I study will offer insufficient data. The city will get to see broad-stroke estimates of, for instance, salary costs. The nitty-gritty costs -- for facilities, buying out pensions, cop cars, etc -- wouldn't become available until the Phase II study, which would cost our financially strapped city $25K to obtain. [I heard citizens say after the meeting that the Phase I study is only free IF we subsequently pursue the Phase II study -- does anyone know if this is true?]

Thus, we won't get access to sufficient data to make even purely financial decisions. And, counter to what Councilmember Atchley asserted in his comments concerning rationality, I see no reason why this should be a purely financial issue.

Third, the Phase I study, the Phase II study, and evidently many members of the Council are focused on just one type of cost: financial costs. Although the nearly 40 speakers at last night's meeting presented a multitude of angles from which to consider this issue, the vast majority of the council members' comments focused on fiscal concerns (I know money matters, but it certainly isn't all that matters -- even in city government). Frankly, they didn't seem to hear our concerns about the value of a stable and accessible police force that knows the streets, the issues, and people of the city.

I agree 100% with Councilmember Saunders, "Even though [the Phase I study] is free, it isn't worth the price."

7 comments:

  1. Good post. I'd really like to know if it is true that Phase I is free only if we pay for a 25K Phase II. I am so sad that only Saunders voted against this.
    Also I left at 9PM so I never found out about the item in which it seemed like the council was giving money set aside for the Police HQ to the County Fire HQ. Did this happen? Is that why there were so many fire fighters there? Why would the city give our money to the county?

    Pomona Joe

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  2. Anyone on the council who voted for this should have the self-serving brains to know that they will be voted out as soon as they come up for re-election.

    Can we get a council roll call vote posted here?

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  3. I don't recall who motioned and who seconded. That said, only Saunders objected to the motion.

    Pomona Joe, I know the council voted to head into escrow on the property that could potentially be used for a new fire house. Being in escrow will allow the city to hold public meetings about the property. That said, I do not recall what happened (if anything) with the item about the funds moving from PD to FD -- John Clifford, can you give us an update on that one?

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  4. Well, yes, Saunders voted against it straight. Paula Lantz also said she will look at the numbers, but would not vote to remove our PD regardless. So she's at least another NO to the Sheriffs.

    I think it needs to be fixed from within, but to threaten such a historic and personal part of Pomona with Sheriffs is a no-no, even just a study. We might as well be unincorporated.

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  5. The thing is that this is a budgetary reaction with permanent ramifications to economic cycles that do not last forever. Yes, this has been a tough recession but it will pass... then what will we be left with...

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  6. I agree with ANON......and all the others. Lantz should have voted with Saunders. Big mistake.

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  7. I understand what the City is trying to do. It is responsible to look at other options to save money. But how fast we forget the mistake they made when the got rid of Pomona Fire. The $25k for the study will only be free if they decide to go with LaCo services for Police. It sounded like they had already made up their minds about going ahead with the study. That was a long meeting and really nothing good came out of it. I was mad that they really didnt listen to the public. They should be held responsible for the moral issues that the PD is going through. They should be ashamed on how they are taking it out on the employees of the city all because the spend too too much over the year. History will be made and hopefully people in this city dont suffer at the hands of their decisions. But I am sure we will. I am afraid of the future of our safety and well-being.

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