From the Los Angeles Times to the Mono County Sheriff, more than a few seriously question the severe police cuts proposed by the Mammoth Town Council. The Times, in Mammoth’s major market, reported on fears for safety without police. Mono’s Sheriff said he can’t understand why the Town Council “is not engaging law enforcement to find out about officer safety.”
It’s a controversy that seems to go up a notch every day. Wednesday the Los Angeles Times headline read “Mammoth Lakes proposes laying off half of police force”. The story quotes Sergeant Paul Robles, president of the Mammoth Polices Officers Association. Robles said the main concern of the police is public safety and backup for officers. He said, “The town should worry about that too. If people don’t feel safe they are not going to come to a place that depends on tourism for survival.”
Police Chief Dan Watson has made it clear that he believes the proposed cuts would leave everyone vulnerable. Sheriff Rick Scholl thinks so too. He said the Town has not talked to him about their cuts or if they want Mono to fill in or back up their department. Scholl issued a memo to his staff to “support the police department with their difficult challenges.”
Sheriff Scholl said, “I don’t think the Town Council realizes that if they chase their officers away, it’s not easy to hire new ones, and how many would want to come to work in Mammoth with current conditions?” said the Sheriff. Scholl said there have been no conversations between the Town and County about a law enforcement contract.
The Sheriff has talked with Police Chief Watson who asked if the Sheriff’s Department could supplement the Mammoth Police. Scholl said he told the Chief there’s no guarantee since he’s down three patrolmen and leaning heavily on overtime as it is. He said the CHP has no officers out after 10pm. And, even if Scholl would contract to cover Mammoth, he said, “I would never allow fewer than two officers to be on duty.”
Of a seven-officer cut, Scholl said it would “create liability for the Town and put people in unsafe situations.” Mammoth Councilmen have not named any source of information or research that led them to their police proposal of a ten-officer department for the Town of Mammoth Lakes. Sheriff Scholl, who worked in the Mammoth Lakes Police Department in 1986 when there were 15 officers, said he doesn’t see how the department could function with any less than 26 years ago.