Letter to the Editor: Loss of public safety

He pulls on his bullet proof vest and buckles his gun belt. He does a final check of his equipment before he eases his patrol vehicle out of the parking pad and starts his shift, not knowing what’s in store for him during the next 10 to 18 hour shift.

Waking up to the sound of glass breaking is an experience that won’t soon be forgotten. You hear every piece as it clinks onto the floor and suddenly you’re frozen. There’s a feeling of helplessness that consumes you, your breath catches and then you close your eyes and pray its a dream. When you hear the familiar sound of the dead bolt click and the turn of the knob, there is a swelling in your throat, your mouth goes dry, you’ve just woken up to your worst nightmare. Soon there is a figure standing over you…..

There is a faint rumble of footsteps and shouts in the darkness. More glass breaking and soon the unmistakable sounds of guns being fired. It’s a thunderous sound that echoes through your mind. A siren wains through the night, the blood soaked blue uniform material has been cut open. Tubes everywhere, bleeps of machines fill the air. In the early morning hours the officer that was shot in the mist of a foot pursuit succumbed to his injuries.

He was a father, a husband, a son, he was a brother, and a friend.

An officer puts on his/her uniform, a bullet proof vest, a badge, and a gun belt. They get into a patrol vehicle that might as well have a big red target painted on it. But, they do this everyday. Risking their lives, they don’t ask for a thank you and they seldom receive one.

The Town Council says they get paid too much, they say the benefits are too great. What price do you put on someone who knowingly and willingly puts their lives on the line everyday?Officers at Mammoth Lakes and everywhere, say, ” I will do everything in my power to ensure your safety on my watch.”

The Town Council wants to reduce the number of officers at Mammoth Lakes Police Dept. They want to reduce their salaries and take away benefits. Essentially putting residents, visitors, and the officers themselves at risk.

Cuts need to be made to fulfill a debt, no one is disputing this, but before you take positions, before you demand more compensation, picture if you will, knocking on the door of the now widow of an officer. Look into the eyes of her fatherless children and tell them that their dad won’t be home for dinner.

Yes, cuts need to be made but public safety should never be on the chopping block. Is the Town Council saying that public safety means nothing to them? Are they willing to risk the safety of residents and visitors? Does the oath that the Council makes mean so little to them?

I recently read an article online entitled, “When your dad is a cop every police death is personal” written by, Travis Mayfield. Making cuts to public safety is personal. It’s personal to the residents of Mammoth Lakes. It’s personal to the visitors, it’s personal to the families of the officers who lay their lives on the line everyday.

I write this as a resident in the town of Mammoth Lakes, as a sister in the Law Enforcement field, as a friend to those who work at Mammoth Lakes Police Dept, and as a victim of a violent crime that has forever scared my memory.

Michelle Anderson

Mammoth Lakes


33 Responses to Letter to the Editor: Loss of public safety

  1. Sean F October 9, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    Great letter!

  2. Bret October 9, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    Why can’t the police union band together and take a pay cut to save each others jobs. In this economy everybody has suffered and made cutbacks. Law enforcement should do the same since their moto is to Serve And Protect.
    I’m sure I’ll be given a lot of thumbs down for this, but when don’t have any money, you JUST don’t have any money.

    • Mike J October 9, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

      Did you read the letter published by the MLPOA? They have been giving up salary and benefits for years to the town. When does someone finally say enough is enough. I’m sure they have bills and families to feed just like everyone else.

      • Steve October 9, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

        So what happens when there is no money to pay salaries?

    • Jen October 9, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

      I can’t hit enough numbs up for this comment!!!

    • Big AL October 9, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

      Yes I understand Bret, it’s tough to tell someone to take a cut in pay, you’re right though .. so many have had too I know I have, and looking at another cut soon. It was raised at work .. we will either cut pay or lay off! My vote was cut pay, as much as it hurt in the bank account, but I did not want to see anyone laid off.

      Some that I told that, were like .. no way, no pay cuts! Lay them off even, just don’t cut my pay!


      My job entails danger every day, I never know when I might not come home. I have come close to being taken out a few times over the years, but I guess it isn’t my time, I have had friends killed, and coworkers killed. I even had to deal with a friend committing suicide due to stress.

      I traded a lot of family time when my kids were growing up, to work long hours, working nights, days, even days and nights, sometimes for weeks straight. Working in all sorts of weather.

      I put 33+ years of my life into my job, I enjoyed it for the most part, I loved what do, I still do, but the years have taken some toll on me, and my attitude, it is harder for me to take it in the shorts with respect to how people feel about what I do.

      To do a job for public safety, to make their life more convenient, safer. Only to be told how much of a piece of crap I am for doing my job. Yeah, that has happened, but the only way I have been able to deal with that over the years with a good attitude about myself and my job, is that there are those that say thank you for what you do.

      For the last 13 or so years, I have not had a pay raise, yet the cost of living has increased. I see the same happen to friends in the public sector, so I never complained, we dealt with it, Never owning but one bran as new vehicle, which was bought on a shoe string budget after our first child was born. Having to give up one house, that was tough to do. And with our present house, a second pay cut will kiss it goodbye too!

      I have no regrets for doing what I do .. it was what I do, like anyone else. So yeah .. people need to do what they need to do, if a pay cut, you have to choose. These are hard times. As I stated in another post on this thread .. safety comes first until it costs money!

  3. Dee October 9, 2012 at 11:31 am #

    Hard to fathom what goes through the minds of those that want to cut essential funding for ALL first responders. It’s a shame to hear about a town counsel trying to cut such important services, do they really want the chaos that will surely come about with such drastic cuts in law enforcemnt? If this does happen for Mammoth Lakes everyone should realize how much more difficult it will be for MPD to do their job and NOT blame them when the dung hits the fan!!
    Excellent letter.

  4. JeanGenie October 9, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    Is this editorial about a crime victim, or did you lose your husband in a shooting? Did this happen in Mammoth?

  5. CL October 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    Thanks Michelle, I wrote a similar letter to the town council. Here’s hoping they listen.

  6. Bemused October 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

    Sorry, but this unnecessarily dramatic letter is more of less valueless. Any insinuation that Mammoth will degenerate into a crime den if MLPD cuts go through is just absurd.

    There is really no argument to support MPLD’s current full-time staffing levels. What we should be exploring/discussing, is the potential to employ a unique staffing schematic to match our unique local L.E. need patterns…which are primarily characterized by a small number of peak-need weekends/holidays and special events. The utilization of part-time/seasonal/volunteer is absolutely a reasonable potential alternative that could substantially lower local L.E. costs, while still maintaining adequate need-based staffing levels.

    And the notion that L.E. can reasonably be expected to reliably PROTECT the public is illogical. The fact is, the mostly do suspect apprehension, mop-up, and documentation. Those concerned about personal protection should implement plans and procedures to provide their own first (and usually last) line of personal defense.

    • Bill October 9, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

      Bingo… Bemused… These are true words:

      “And the notion that L.E. can reasonably be expected to reliably PROTECT the public is illogical. The fact is, the mostly do suspect apprehension, mop-up, and documentation. Those concerned about personal protection should implement plans and procedures to provide their own first (and usually last) line of personal defense.”

    • Jesse October 10, 2012 at 9:52 am #

      Yes almost as absurd as people who like to leave provocative comments, but hide behind some clever Alias.
      I was living in Mammoth in 1976 and boy was it a different place; lots of cocaine back then but not like now. The drug problem is off the hook now and the drug trade alone has many off-shoot crimes like burglary, assault, overdoses, hazmat concerns, broken families, etc. We didn’t have 10 and 12 year olds using marijuana in school then, no gangster wanna-be’s, the list could go on. The big difference between then and now; we have cell phones and Facebook and twitter, all make it easier for criminals to network and expand their predatory enterprises. Mammoth was more remote back then, now we are just a suburb of southern California.
      You are delusional if you think Mammoth will just stay the safe sleepy little town that it once was. To illustrate, where would you rather go, Disneyland or Magic Mountain? Some might prefer Magic Mountain but for most of you who have been both places, you know what I mean.

      • Pharmacology October 10, 2012 at 10:45 am #

        It’s a supply and demand thing. Legalize pot, tax it if you want, but you will have the bootleggers who grow their own anyway. So what? But control the stuff you put up your nose or inject into your bloodstream (clearly dangerous stuff).

      • Bemused October 10, 2012 at 11:57 am #

        A bit tough to follow you, and I can’t figure out where I said that Mammoth is/will/could stay the sleepy town it once was?? But anyway…

        Here’s where your logic, and the logic of the larger “war on drugs” for that matter, goes awry:

        You assert that the drug problem here is currently “off the hook,” and growing worse. Well, if so, this has developed in the face of the (costly) implementation and expansion of MONET, MLPD, the SRO program, etc. So, while I do understand the impulsive conclusion that without these efforts, things would just be that much worse…and that therefore more of the same can only be a benefit, the fact is that this logic is flawed. It is this exact thinking that has grown the national war on drugs into the gigantic, impossibly expensive, deeply corrupt, bureaucratic failure any reasonable person can see that it is…one that imprisons our citizens for non-violent, often simply possessional crimes an an unprecedented rate.

        It is really this simple: Where there is demand, there will be those who seek to supply it. Couple this with our human tendency to want that which we’re told we can’t have, and you’ve got an un-winnable war. Therefore, as a society, I submit that we should shift our attitude/efforts/resources towards demystification, education, diversion, and rehabilitation.

        I’m pretty sure we all support maintaining a local L.E. presence adequate to suppress gang-like activity, known violent individuals, and the like. But what I’m not for is 3-unit multi-agency pull-overs of some 22 year old girl in a purple Bug on Main St. at 6:30PM on a Friday (we’ve all seen it)…or MONET tactical teams kicking-in the door and shoving rifles in the face of some kid over selling an 1/8th of weed to a fellow 22 year old snowboarder (it’s happened).

        We CAN afford, and should demand, a PD of a scale adequate to focus on real crime and public safety. What we can’t afford is fighting un-winnable wars, and over-response “show of force” tactics for the sake of themselves.

        Like so many conversations in today’s society, this local conversation has too quickly polarized into “No Cuts” Vs. “Deep Cuts.” What we should be taking about is reasonable PD budget reduction, which I submit can be achieved through a customized deployment protocol that puts the manpower on the street when we need it, and gets it off the clock when we don’t.

      • Jeremiah's Alter Ego October 10, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

        Yes the Drug trade is going through the roof in our current system so what good did any of the past efforts do to keep it from being in the state it is in right now? Serious question!
        And how many people have been dying on the Mexican border in the last 10 years and do you remember when the story broke that our own Government sent thousands of guns to Mexican cartels to find where they are getting their guns (from the US people and Government obviously)
        And if the officials we elect aren’t willing to admit to being wrong how are we to fix anything.
        Too much corruption and money in politics and too much laws that people will always break when there is no real deliverable to the people only to annual budgets.
        Thumbs up or Thumbs down I could care less.

      • Big AL October 10, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

        Jesse, it’s the way the world is going, society is getting so self indulgent. How can it not be when it is all it sees is the junked crammed down it’s throat?

    • Bemused October 10, 2012 at 10:00 am #

      Let me add that I greatly respect and support the MLPD, and believe the department has gone a long way in the right direction over the past few years under Chief Watson, et al.

      This isn’t about the MLPD per se. It’s about the public (taxpayers) getting proper value for their tax-dollar. We are, quite simply, paying too much for our PD for a town of our size. And being as that we have a state hwy running through the center of town, and an interstate passing just outside of it, it’s an insult to the taxpayer to hear recent assertions that Mono Co. Sheriffs and CHP resources can’t be tapped during our limited peak visitation times…when our L.E. call numbers can swell massively, but the rest of the county more or less remains the sleepy rural area that it is.

    • JeanGenie October 10, 2012 at 10:10 am #

      I agree with Bemused and Bill, but my clicker doesn’t work.

  7. Wayne Deja October 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    Great letter by Michelle Anderson…but it happens to be true,the last sentence that “Bemused” has to say….It’s all good that Law Enforcement is there to protect and serve, but,usually,when it comes to personal protection,if something gets to that point,it would be a good idea to be able to provide that yourself,if it’s ever needed.A good example of that ,on a large scale,would be Hurricane Katrina a few years ago..and what an out-of-control mess that was when Government tried to control that.On a smaller,but more likely scenerio, is safety where we live…I used to live in Salem,Oregon…a city over-run with drugs,crime,gangs and violence and a police force that could do little about it besides ,like what “bemused” said,apprehension and arrests after the fact.In a 6 month period,I was robbed at gun-point, had 2 break-ins at my house,as well as an assault at my job. After that period of time,and realizing what I was dealing with where I lived,my answer wasn’t to carry the phone number of the Salem Police close at hand…it was to apply for,and get a concealed weapon permit.

    • Ken Warner October 9, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

      …and what better slogan for Mammoth than, “Come Armed”…

      • JeanGenie October 10, 2012 at 10:13 am #

        No Ken, the slogan is “come on vacation, leave on probation”.

    • JeanGenie October 10, 2012 at 10:12 am #

      I agree Wayne.

    • Wayne Deja October 10, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

      …and another answer to the problems up there in Salem.Oregon that I was dealing with ?….move to where I used to go hunting and fishing back in the 80’s when I was living in Lancaster… Sell everything I owned,pack up, start over and take my chances…. move to Lone Pine…which I did in 2001.

  8. Big AL October 9, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

    As I always say, safety comes first until it costs money, then it is second or third.

  9. Alex October 10, 2012 at 8:01 am #

    This amounts to extortion, ether you pay for the cops, or they may not even respond. Fear mongering the people should not get them anything but exposed for what they are, armed thugs shaking down the very people that pay them for their protection.

    My father in law was a Inyo Co Sheriff in the sixties working in Lone Pine. He had one fellow partner and one patrol car for the both of them to share. We had bad guys then also. Charles Manson for one was arrested and first jailed in Inyo Co.

    We can not afford the sacrifice all other programs to keep an over built force. We all have had to cut back.

    • Mammothite October 10, 2012 at 9:59 am #

      Overbuilt Force? The California Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) in a very recent, extensive study of MLPD says that MLPD is understaffed when compared to similar agencies around the state.

      Please expand on your “expert” analysis.

      • Alex October 10, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

        Please check out this site on Inyo Co. budget for 2012/2013, page 31. Chart showing the largest hit to the Inyo Co budget is Public Protection at 30.99%. Education & Parks is only 2.17%.

        That is why I say it is overbuilt. And needs big cuts like the rest of us.

  10. Nelly October 11, 2012 at 7:27 am #

    if law enforcement is cut who will you call when you need police assistance… your council ?? heck since some won’t even go on a ride along they are clueless to the working of a police department!

    • Truth Check October 13, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

      Nelly, great point. Another question would be is how will they be able to hire anyone, now that over half the department is retiring or have applied for jobs elsewhere?

      No one in their right mind would apply to MLPD knowing that there is no possibility of job security working for this council.

      We should know by January or February if it is possible for a 10 man department to cover Mammoth. It could get ugly.

  11. Big AL October 13, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    Really sad to see how self serving our elected officials have become, I mean, there always has been a certain degree in it, but now .. it is pretty much why people seem to take office, to serve themselves and agendas of others, rather than to make a difference for the people.

  12. Just making a buck October 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    Big Al, you are correct.
    It’s not “How can I serve the community’s wants and needs?”
    it’s an in-your-face “Let’s see … what parcel can I develop today to make a bundle for myself and my pals?”

  13. concerned October 13, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

    Actually Tahoes slogan is ” arrive on vacation, leave on probation”. Mammoth is going down the tubes, and long time locals predicted this day would come.

    • Inherent in the system October 14, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

      The only criteria you need to be a councilman power-broker is that you received the most votes.
      And when that happens, you can control everything, do exactly what you want, look after yourself and your business associates, … on and on.
      Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Especially what the economy takes a turn for the worse.
      And there is nothing The People can do about this. Councilmen refuse to police themselves or their fellow Councilmen. They will not rat on each other when their hands are clearly dirty. It is truly a hopeless situation.


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