Although it was not publicly discussed, Mammoth Town officials did ask the Mono Sheriff’s Department how much it would cost to contract for law enforcement services through Mono County. The Sheriff suggested the Town use the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Contract Law Bureau to evaluate the cost of a law enforcement contract through Mono. He also suggested that the Town’s intended staffing levels are unsafe.
On November 7th, Sheriff Rick Scholl responded to Town Manager Dave Wilbrecht’s letter of November 2nd. Wilbrecht’s letter requested that the Mono Sheriff’s Office prepare a cost estimate for services to Mammoth. Sheriff Scholl wrote that “My office and/ or Mono County do not have the expertise in providing a detailed and comprehensive cost estimate relating to your request.” Sheriff Scholl said the estimate would have to examine “every minor detail” for accuracy.
Sheriff Scholl said he recommended the same thing Mammoth Police Chief Dan Watson suggested – that the Town “use the expertise of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office to obtain this specific cost estimate.” Town Manager Wilbrecht emailed us the Sheriff’s letter and said, “The Town is not planning to contact Los Angeles County for additional information.”
If the Town did choose to hire LA County to do a cost estimate, Sheriff Scholl said they would analyze demographics and budget, the police department itself, patrol service hours, deployment practices, community programs, facilities, town crime, arrest and traffic statistics. They would then recommend service levels for law enforcement to be provided by Mono County.
Sheriff Scholl wrote in his letter that the Town Manager expressed interest in a cost estimate for a staffing level of two officers on duty and available for calls at all times. The services now are up to four officers at any given time. Sheriff Scholl said, “I am advising you and the Town Council that I, as the Sheriff of Mono County, do not believe this is a viable option for providing law enforcement services for the Town of Mammoth Lakes.”
Sheriff Scholl goes on to say, “I wholeheartedly agree with Chief Watson and the California Peace Officers Standards and Training when I say you cannot serve a population of upwards of 35,000 on a weekend with only two officers, even if you have other law enforcement agencies that can respond to emergency situations to assist if needed.” Scholl said his office will not entertain the possibility of providing law enforcement services to Mammoth with only two officers on the streets at any given time. He said it would not be safe for the officers or the public.
Scholl did say he is open to the possibility of providing contract law enforcement services to Mammoth and possibly hiring current police “if and when they complete and pass a full background investigation.” Scholl said all of this – a cost estimate and establishment of a contract will be “very time consuming.” The Mammoth Town Council plans to decide on police cuts and other restructuring at their meeting Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, Mammoth Police Chief Dan Watson confirmed that he and Lieutenant John Mair met with representatives of the Inyo and Mono Sheriffs’ Departments and Bishop Police Department Friday morning to “discuss the feasibility of Mammoth Lakes hiring their personnel to fill regular shifts when we are unable to do so because of shortages.” Chief Watson said, “It was a very preliminary discussion and there’s nothing more to report.”
(MONO SHERIFF RICK SCHOLL’S LETTER TO MAMMOTH TOWN MANAGER DAVE WILBRECHT)
November 7, 2012
David Wilbrecht, Town Manager Town of Mammoth Lakes
P0 Box 1609
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
Dear Mr. Wilbrecht,
I am in receipt of your letter dated November 2, 2012 requesting that my office prepare a cost estimate to provide law enforcement services for the Town of Mammoth Lakes.
My office and/or the County of Mono do not have the expertise in providing a detailed and comprehensive cost estimate relating to your request. Operating a law enforcement agency is very complex, thus the estimate must look into every minor detail to be an accurate estimate for both agencies involved.
As I have discussed with you personally on a prior occasion, as Police Chief Dan Watson has done with the Mammoth Lakes Town Council (via memo), I am recommending that the Town of Mammoth Lakes utilize the expertise of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office to obtain this specific cost estimate.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office has a specific Contract Law Bureau that can provide the manpower and expertise needed to deliver a comprehensive cost estimate per your request. They have been providing contract services for decades and currently have more than forty contract cities that they provide law enforcement for. If you so choose to enter into a formal agreement with the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Office to conduct this evaluation, please contact Lieutenant Rick Mouwen at rtmouwen2i~lasd.org or (323) 526 – 5750.
Per the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office manual, during the Phase I feasibility study, crime and requested service data will be collected, existing service levels will be analyzed, and a recommended level of service will be developed, resulting in a contract cost estimate (for law enforcement service to be provided by Mono County Sheriffs Office). The areas analyzed include, but are not limited to: demographics and budget; the Police Department itself; patrol service hours; deployment practices; community programs; utilized facilities; Town crime; arrest and traffic statistics; along with ultimately recommended service levels for law enforcement.
In your letter, you identify an interest in obtaining an estimate for a staffing level of”2.0 officers on duty and available for Mammoth Lakes calls at all times,” with the current level of staffing now providing up to four officers at any given time. I am advising you and the Town Council that I, as the Sheriff of Mono County, do not believe this is a viable option for providing law enforcement services for the Town of Mammoth Lakes.
Police Chief Watson has spoken to the Mammoth Lakes Town Council on prior occasions relating to this topic and how he believes two officers cannot safely provide adequate law enforcement services within the Town. The Chief also related to the California Peace Officers Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.) survey that was previously done which also recommends no less than seventeen officers or staff to provide law enforcement services.
I whole heartedly agree with Chief Watson and P.O.S.T., when I say you cannot serve a population of upwards of 35,000 on a weekend with only two officers, even if you have other law enforcement agencies that can respond to emergency situations to assist if needed.
The Mono County Sheriffs Office will not entertain the possibility of providing law enforcement services to the Town of Mammoth Lakes with only two officers on the streets at any given time. It would not be safe for my deputies, nor would it be safe for the citizens and visitors of the Town of Mammoth Lakes.
In closing, I am open to the possibility of having my office provide law enforcement services to the Town of Mammoth Lakes under contract, along with possibly hiring current personnel from your agency if and when they complete and pass a full background investigation as any new county employee would have to do (they would not necessarily maintain their current rank or assignment).
Please be mindful that the process for the Town of Mammoth Lakes to obtain a cost estimate for law enforcement services as discussed above, not to mention the possibility of my office having to interview, background and hire numerous employees to fulfill such a contract, will be very time consuming.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or my staff at your convenience.
Richard C. Scholl