The Lynwood City Council has refused—for now—to approve a proposed 5.57% budget increase from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department which provides law enforcement services to the City.
“There are a lot of reasons why the Council took this action,” said Lynwood City Manager Jose Ometeotl. “We have previously expressed concern about the quality of services the Sheriff’s Department has provided. Paying more without resolution to those issues is not practical.”
Ometeotl has met with Sheriff’s representatives in recent weeks to express concern about some incidents in the community where actions of the deputies seemed excessive.
“We need to intensify that dialogue and create a pathway to real change,” said Ometeotl who described the conversations as not yet productive. “In addition, the budgetary impact of COViD-19 has hit all of us very hard. These proposed increases don’t reflect that reality.”
Lynwood is one of 42 cities in LA County that contracts with the LA Sheriff’s for law enforcement services. Those cities pay in excess of $360 million every year to the Sheriff’s Department. It’s believed Lynwood is the first city to reject the Sheriff’s Department proposed increase.
“Cutting public safety services in Lynwood doesn’t solve the problem,” said Lynwood Mayor Aide Castro. “The proposed increase is due to pay raises and liability insurance premium costs. We call on the Sheriff to freeze its pay increases and work to reduce the skyrocketing rising liability costs.”
Law enforcement costs comprise 57% of the Lynwood city budget and increase every year. These increasing costs are simply not sustainable for cities like Lynwood.
The City of Lynwood is too small to fund its own police department. According to one expert, a city should have more than 200,000 residents before it would be able to afford its own department. Lynwood has 70,000 residents.
“The quality of our services received, the continuing increase in costs and the impact of the pandemic on budgets should all be on the table,” said Mayor Pro Tempore Jorge Casanova. “Our Sheriff and Fire officials need to better understand our realities and our needs before we consider paying more.”
Both Mayor Castro and Mayor Pro-Tem Casanova pointed out that Lynwood city employees are not receiving a pay raise this year due to the impact of COVID-19 on the city’s budget.
The California Contract Cities Association is putting together a working group of city managers and elected officials to work with the Sheriff’s Department and LA County officials on this important issue.