POST and Mammoth’s Chief lay out policing needs, service cuts

MLPD 3-23-10Mammoth’s Police Chief and POST, the state commission known as Police Officers Standards and Training have now issued analyses of Town officials’ proposal to cut 7 officers and minimum needs for the town protection. These reports were just going on to the Town website at about 4pm before Wednesday night’s Council meeting. Few citizens would have had time to absorb the data.  See the Chief’s statement below this story and see all the new documents, including the POST report here –  .   Go down to October 3, 2012 documents and click on them. MLPD Management study is the POST report.

The POST report on the Mammoth Police Department recommends “no fewer than 17 sworn officers” this fiscal year. Their report says freeze things as they are and develop a service delivery plan to determine future needs of numbers of police based on real data. POST recommends a base of 20 sworn officers as a starting point for creating a staffing profile, with a long-term goal of 25 sworn officers and 4 non-sworn. Their report details numbers of calls and crimes and requirements on current police.

POST notes that in comparison cities, population does not triple and quadruple with skiers as Mammoth Lakes does. POST also notes that Mammoth Lakes Police operate in a remote location where immediate back-up is not available from other local agencies.

Mammoth Police Chief Dan Watson issued a two page statement of impacts from restructuring. He says that 15 of Mammoth’s 17 sworn staff are assigned to patrol. This means two on duty, 2am to 9pm. From 9pm until 2am, four officers work the busiest hours of the day.

Chief Watson says the proposal to reduce the MLPD to 10 sworn personnel will mean 7 officers for patrol instead of 15. Only one officer will be on duty a number of days of the week. Chief Watson says it is his opinion that this scenario “puts the safety of visitors, residents, and officers at risk.” The cuts, he says, will mean delays in response and some incidents won’t result in a police response. Watson goes on to say, “We can anticipate an increase in illegal drug activity, juvenile crime and at-risk behavior by youth.” He says there will be less preventative patrol and less visibility of the police throughout the Town. Traffic enforcement and DUI enforcement will be reduced. Service responses of all kinds won’t happen. Neither will current protections for Mammoth Hospital, Mammoth School District and Mammoth Mountain Ski Area.

More was expected at Wednesday night’s meeting, but it’s not until the last item on the agenda.



24 Responses to POST and Mammoth’s Chief lay out policing needs, service cuts

  1. Tourbillon October 3, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    Wow, that was fast! Who says public unions can’t react with vigor and speed?

    • Mammothite October 3, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

      Chief Watson is simply smart enough to look down the road and see which way the wind is blowing. He asked POST to do the study several months ago and it recently came in with the actual facts that will be difficult for anyone to refute.

      The primary responsibility of government is Public Safety (Police and Fire), Water/Sewer, Schools and Roads.

      Parks, Transportation, Arts, Marketing, Trails, Housing etc. are nice but optional and should be the first to go. The town should stick with the basics.

      There is not one Law Enforcement anywhere that would allow one officer to respond alone to a domestic violence call, suicidal person or fight call which Mammoth has plenty of. In fact, if an officer did respond without backup he would be diciplined and if he kept doing it he would be fired.

      Any officer who loves his family and values his own life would not respond to these types of calls alone. With one officer working, the call would have to wait until someone could be called out, most likely from Bishop or a CHP or Deputy who could be up to an hour away responded. There is no way an officer could be diciplined for refusing to respond to these types of calls without backup. I would make sure that my wife had an attorney lined up ahead of time to sue the town if I was killed or injured because the town put me at risk by requiring me to work without backup. 23 million would seem like peanuts.

    • Jon Boyer October 4, 2012 at 11:21 am #

      Did I miss something, Tourbillon? What in the world did this story have to do with unions@

  2. Trouble October 3, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    I’d like to hear what the police chief thinks they really do to help at “at risk kids”??? I don’t see it.

    • Jeremiah's Alter Ego October 5, 2012 at 9:31 am #

      I agree 100 % with that statement and would love to hear the response if there ever was one.
      It only sounds like fear mongering to me to state ” we anticipate a increase in illegal drug activity, and juvenile crime and at risk behavior by youth”.
      So then I take it the best response people agree with is putting the kids in handcuffs and scare them with threats of their freedom when in this day and age it is part of peer pressure to act like the tough guy and that it doesn’t scare you.
      Most I feel are just stuck in a negative downward spiral that only if they where fortunate enough to get a good education and a chance to do something different for themselves they would do what it takes to follow through with their own goals and dreams.
      I don’t agree with how the justice system conditions the youth into being what they become in incarceration when they haven’t even figured out who or what they want to be or do!
      Our youth deserve a better chance.
      Not everybody is born as fortunate as you may have been and may have had bad circumstance’s in their lives so why let the justice system be more like the house betting against our troubled youth.

  3. cat October 3, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    Wow, is POST going to help fund the increase?

    Not to be a jerk Tourbillon, but the Chief is admin and not union. He got it done so quick because it is to his benefit.

    His Union Officers have been trying to issue a renewal permit to Mammoth Wellness for close to a year now. That tells how and why we need so many police, one permit renewal……one year to do it.

    • Ken Warner October 4, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

      If you watch the Council Meeting, Chief Watson said he asked for the POST report in the Spring of 2011 and just received it a few days ago.

  4. Sean F October 3, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    As a former cop if my agency tried to make me work alone without back-up available ( or close by ) I would leave that department. If I were killed or hurt on duty as a result of low staffing I or my wife would have a legal case against the city. Especially considering the position of POST on the matter.

    The PD is already understaffed.

    • Trouble October 3, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

      Sean- what’s your opinions on how the shriff dept’s ability to take over law enforcement in Mammoth?

      • Sean F October 4, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

        I am 100% for keeping the PD inplace. The officers know the people who live in the city and have more of a personal investment in keeping things safe. It is counter intuitive but the better job a local PD does the lower the crime rate will be. Cops need to stop gangs and at risk youths before the gangs are formed for example. It is hard to clean up a crappy area, but it is easier to keep it clean and safe before it goes to crap. A proactive, firm, and fair PD is the way to go.

        My experience with sheriff contract cities is with Ventura Co and Los Angeles co. I never felt as connected and responsible for the cities I worked in or around as I did when I eventually worked for a city police department. At a PD it was “my town”. In other words I “owned” whatever problems came up in my area of patrol. The sense of ownership means you are responsible for keeping your little area safe. You knew the people who worked and lived in your area and you felt connected with them.

        When I worked in sheriff contract cities I never had the same connection to the community as I did when working a PD with only one station (key point there. Don’t confuse a small town PD with one station with a large department like LAPD where officers move between stations regularly and thus may not have the same level of connection to an area).

        So to answer your question – yes going to the Sheriffs would probably save money, however, there would probably be delays in response times when Deputies might get called over to June Lake on a big incident. Or to Crowley.

        There is also the issue of control. The Sheriff is elected by people throught the county not just Mammoth. So if we in Mammoth are unhappy with something to do with law enforcement and want a change, we the community don’t have as much leverage over the Sheriff as we do over the TC and Cheif Watson. Does the Sheriff live in the town of Mammoth? I think the Cheif is required to. That means he is going to be more focused on Mammoth issues. The Sheriff has the entire county to think about, plus the jail and court security services. His attention is divided if you see my point.

        So if the Sheriff did take over the sky would not fall, however, I don’t think people in Mammoth would be as happy with their law enforcement services.

        One more point. I hear moms in town complaining about school drop off. They say a cop sits on the street and just looks for violations. Traffic backs up badly. They ask why doesn’t the officer get out of his car and direct traffic to make the flow go better at drop off. It is a valid question from the parents. I told the moms to form a small group and request a meeting with Cheif Watson. He will listen and then make a decision if something should be changed. My point here is don’t be afraid of the police. They are rated on “customer service” among other things which means they need to listen to your concerns. They will hear you out and either try to help you or explain why they can’t or who you should talk to. And if they don’t act helpfully or in a manner you except ( think how would you want your mom treated ) then talk to the Cheif. If you are a reasonable person and not 5150 you will probably be surprised that the cops are here to listen to you and help you within what the law allows then to do. God I type too much sorry

        • Trouble October 5, 2012 at 5:23 am #

          Thanks for answering Shawn. I agree with a lot your opinions more so now.

        • Mammothite October 5, 2012 at 9:26 am #

          The reason the cop sits there is for the safety of the children that are walking to school, in the path of scores of moms who are late, dropping the kids off at school in their SUVs. If he is not there, they will blow through the stop sign and endanger the kids that are walking. It is simply accident prevention.

          • Louise October 8, 2012 at 9:00 am #

            What happened to the crossing guard lady who used to control that intersection?

  5. Scholl Bowl October 3, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    Now that is a chief! He knows facts speak for themselves! Too bad sheriff Scholl doesn’t have one tenth of his intelligence! That is me being polite.

  6. MJA October 4, 2012 at 8:22 am #

    Rather than loosing any more police simply don’t pay Ballas,.
    That is what bankruptcy is for.
    The town doesn’t have to loose here,
    Unless of course it decides too.
    Best wishes to Mammoth.


    • Bemused October 4, 2012 at 10:30 am #

      You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about MJA…

  7. tm October 4, 2012 at 10:55 am #

    This is a good opportunity to clean house and cut the positions of those officers who have demonstrated that they are troublesome to the Department.

    • wrong October 4, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

      Just a little info for you tm,

      The officers will be let go from the bottom up in order of hire date.

      It won’t necessarily be the ones that you feel should go.

  8. Concerned Citizen October 4, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    Council Members are so concerned with what an officer’s wage and benefit package is! Law enforcement is an essential funtion and high priority for the Town of Mammoth Lakes. These officers face danger every day of their lives and then some. They deserve a decent living. They walk into suicides and deaths more than you know, like the one who blew their head off. Walking on blood and guts is not a pretty site. The comparison council is looking at for wages and benfits is five years old. Alot can change in five years. Council is also looking at other states which does not have the same cost of living as California. There are alot of agencies in California small and large that make higher wages and benefits that Mammoth Lakes Police Officers make. Do the homework if you are so concerned with MLPD. The Community and MLPD Officers deserve protection and safety and that should be our number concern for our community!

    To hire a police officer takes anywhere from 6 months to a year. Extensive backgrounds are required. Alot of officers are already looking to relocate to provide for their families. Council will be left with officers who will retire in a few years and MLPD will not exist as you know it!

  9. Sean F October 4, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

    Hey concerned citizen – good points. I still remember the taste of a crazy person who cut his ear off and was flinging blood at me as I had to take him down (I didn’t have a taser 🙁 but wish I did). As I was giving him orders his blood flew into my mouth. Yuk! Plus then you are wondering if you just got HIV from the guys blood in your mouth. Or Hep. I didn’t luckily but it happens.

    Hiring cops is also competitive meaning the best, most educated and trained cops tend to go work for the highest paying police departments. So again you get what you pay for. Luckily Mammoth is an awesome place to live so cops will come here for less than down south pay levels.

    • Ken Warner October 5, 2012 at 3:34 am #

      When I hear concern that police officers make too much money, I think, yeah but they risk serious permanent injury and death every single day as part of their job. That’s not something one should do for minimum wage. And do you really want to arm the guy who’s willing to work for less and give him the responsibility for your safety?

  10. john Delgado October 5, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    I’d Cut 10, I mean come on,, now that Jack Colby is in the Bridgeport waterloo, I feel safer already 🙂

  11. Worried in Bishop October 5, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    I think the general public should understand that the ramifications of the decision made to let go of 7 officer is going to bite them in the butt. These officers are trained to serve and protect. Mammoth has more problems than Bishop when it comes to drugs and crime. Without these Officers in force, Mammoth will have a “HUGE” problem. Bishop will suffer as the trickle down effect will begin. I GUARENTEE IT! The issue is, that as a result of that decision, 1/4 of the MLPD is going to retire, in an effort to save jobs for those who are younger and less experienced. You Mammoth Citizens are losing!!!! Losing big time!!!! These officer’s who rank as high as Lieutenant, are walking encyclopedias and dictionary’s in the “Law Enforcement Community.” Simply, they are Irreplaceable. It takes years and years to absorb the amount of knowledge to lead a department!!! Plese reconsider your decision!!!

  12. concerned October 8, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    Mammoth will become a HAVEN for drug and violent criminals without the police force. Think about what youre doing Mammoth.


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