County Sheriff Response Times

From the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, January 8, 2006:

Hampered by budget cuts and a shortage of officers, the time it takes for Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies to respond to public calls for help - including life-threatening emergencies - is increasing, according to Sheriff's Department data.

Since 2002, average response times to emergency calls have risen 4 percent to five minutes in cities that contract with the department. In unincorporated areas, average response times have increased 3 percent to 6.4 minutes. The time it takes deputies to respond to "priority" calls for such things as robberies, burglaries and domestic violence has increased 19percent in contract cities and 17 percent in unincorporated areas, according to the data. Response times to "routine" calls like stolen vehicles, missing people and vandalism have increased 12 percent in contract cities and 18 percent in unincorporated areas.

Read the full story at:

That link is dead.  A cached version of this story is currently available at:,+average+response%22&hl=en

[edited 1/22/2006]

Putting the Story in Context

     I suppose I ought to put this story in context.

     During the March 2005 municipal election in Rosemead, a number of city residents expressed concern about county sheriff response times and responsiveness.  Rosemead is a "contract" city.  Under the "Lakewood Plan," many incorporated cities contract with Los Angeles County for some of their services, particularly public safety.  Rosemead contracts with the county for both fire and police services.

     By contrast, most of the surrounding cities [San Gabriel, Alhambra, Monterey Park, Montebello, El Monte, Arcadia, etc] have their own police departments, and at least a few of them also have their own fire departments.

     In recent years, the county has had to dramatically increase the price they charge to contract cities for police services.  As a result, a number of cities have studied the feasiblity of either creating their own police departments, or contracting with someone other than the Los Angeles County Sheriff.  Rumors that the city of South El Monte is in the process of switching from the county sheriff to the city of El Monte for police services continue to swirl.

     Shortly after the March election, councilmen John Tran and John Nunez suggested that the city of Rosemead also study the feasilbility of creating our own police department, or otherwise changing our arragement with the county sheriff.  As I noted in an earlier letter to the editor, Tran and Nunez weren't saying that the city SHOULD create its own police department; they were only asking for a study.  Nonetheless,  councilmembers Margaret Clark, Jay Imperial, and Gary Taylor all voted against their proposal.

     The issue of public safety remained, of course.  This past fall, councilmembers Clark, Imperial, and Taylor joined in appropriating something like $300,000/annually to add three additional sheriff's deputies to Rosemead's pool.  As I understand it, this went against the recommendation of both the city manager and the representative from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.  Both said that their were cheaper ways to improve public safety in Rosemead.

     This action struck me as an act of pure political calculation.  They knew from the public opinion poll paid for by Wal-Mart that public safety was an issue of concern to Rosemead residents.  They knew they were vulnerable for refusing the study of alternatives to the county contract.  So they basically just wasted a ton of money so that Taylor and Imperial could claim to have done something about a serious problem.

     So the tribune story I mentioned above was simply meant to remind folks that the question of contracting with the county for public services is a recurring issue for everyone concerned about efficient public administration.  It was also meant to remind folks of the crass political calculations going on in the minds of certain long-standig incumbents in Rosemead city hall.