Mammoth Police Chief responds to news of cuts to his department


Mammoth Lakes Police Chief Dan Watson 

Last week, Assistant Town Manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez finally revealed how Town officials plan to come up with $2 million per year to pay off the big lawsuit debt. Two closely held services topped the proposed list of cuts – 7 police officers and the Whitmore Pool and Park, along with six other town positions.

The Town Council plans to invite the public in to comment on these plans and offer suggestions at their regular meeting Wednesday night. The last item on the somewhat brief agenda says, “discuss the settlement agreement and proposed options for the financing of the settlement.”

When contacted by Sierra Wave Media for his view of the proposed plan to finance the debt, Mammoth Police Chief Dan Watson said, “I’m still analyzing the Council’s restructuring plan that was released last Thursday. My staff and I are trying to determine the impacts of a 46% reduction in sworn strength and a 67% reduction in supervision.”

The Chief said if this plan goes into effect the losses will include the School Resource Officer, MONET task force, and five patrol personnel. Chief Watson said this will mean times during the week when there will be only one police officer on duty. The Chief said, “Being in a remote location without other law enforcement services nearby, I’m concerned about what this will mean for the safety of our residents, visitors, and officers.”

Chief Watson added in his response that “The Town Council has the very difficult challenge of determining how to pay the settlement. The plan that was presented,” he said, “is the beginning of a process and the Council is seeking public input. The plan provides a starting point for discussion and there will likely be changes.” The Chief said he encourages all residents to become familiar with the plan and then offer their opinions on priorities by speaking at future meetings or by forwarding their thoughts via email to Town Clerk Jamie Gray. That email is

The Town’s plan includes no cuts for housing, tourism, and transit.


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53 Responses to Mammoth Police Chief responds to news of cuts to his department

  1. Too many cops October 1, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    There is no reason to be so top-heavy in policemen. All you need is a couple of cops hanging around at last call at the bars in tourist towns.

    • Benett Kessler October 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

      From covering the news in Mammoth Lakes since 1979, we can says there are many other needs for police besides dealing with drunks.
      Benett Kessler

      • Rural vs. Metropolis October 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

        But why so many, Benett?
        Mammoth ain’t no L.A.

        • Tim October 1, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

          One of the problems with staffing for law enforcement is that when you need the cops, you never have enough and when it is slow, you always have too many.

          One aspect that the Chief stated was that there would only be one officer on duty at various times. This is a concern because it is near impossible for one officer to control certain situations in a non-violent manner. So the question comes up: do you want a smaller force that may be forced to be “heavy handed” for their safety or do you want to have a few more officers who’s mere presence deters the need?

        • Steve Swisher October 1, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

          It’s not just bar fights?

          People with significant mental illness end up at Mammoth Hospital, as do people injured in fights and belligerent drunks. Potentially violent patients are sometimes admitted to the inpatient medical service.

          MLPD has always responded quickly to the hospital. What will happen if there’s only one officer and he’s tied up at a bar fight–or worse, driving to the Bridgeport jail?

          Yes, the hospital could hire a 24/7 security service, but the community would end up paying for the new services in the form of higher hospital fees. And the security guards would not provide any services for the community at large.

          It makes more sense to maintain an adequate police force.

          • Ed Cesnalis October 2, 2012 at 12:13 pm #


            Most people that I know drive hundreds of miles for medical treatment because the fees are already too high at Mammoth Hospital. You are asking these same people to pay more in taxes to provide police security for a hospital that they cannot afford anyway.

          • CAt October 2, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

            Hire a security guard.

        • Big Rick OB October 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

          Cut 7 cops from the force and it won’t take long before it IS L.A.

        • Jeff B. October 2, 2012 at 12:07 am #

          Mammoth is LA on the weekends and holidays. Apres ski leads to excessive drinking, drugs, fights, etc. And LA or not, Mammoth like any other town has assaults, burglaries, thefts, and worse. And though the rates are lower than elsewhere, it may well be because of the police coverage. According to the 2010 census, the rate of officers per 1000 residents is just below the california average. With 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week, those officers are spread thin already especially during peak periods.

    • Anita October 1, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

      Respectfully, “Too”–I do not believe you know what you are talking about.

  2. upthecreek October 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    Sounds like the TC is just building its case for MORE taxes …They threaten cutting police/Fire and infrastructure and settle with New Taxes. Get ready Mammoth

    After all the Sheeple love paying new taxes.

    The system is Rigged.

    Hawaiian shirts and expensive cigars and Pensions for everyone..
    Life is Great


    • Mammothite October 2, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

      Upthecreek, I think you are partially right. In order for council members to get elected, council members make a lot of promises to a lot of people. They have all made these back door promises tonet cut pet programs such as Arts, Transportation, Housing, Parks & Rec, Marketing etc.

      This is all political theater. I don’t think they are stupid enough to think that ten sworn officers can service our community. They know that the threat to cut 7 sworn positions will fire up the community and that the people will demand a police depertment that can adequetly service the community. The outcry that they themselves generated, will then give the council the political cover to break the political promises that they made to all the special interest groups that got them elected.

      They really think we are that dumb. When the dust settles, I am betting three police layoffs.

      • johndoeml October 3, 2012 at 2:49 am #

        Agree. And Whitmore Pool is recreation and probably will receive recreation funds. In the end very little will change.

  3. Ken Warner October 1, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    I sent the following to Town Clerk Jamie Gray.

    “Assistant Town Manager Martinez said there would be no cuts to Tourism, Housing and Transit.”

    Public safety is the first priority. Tourism, Housing and Transit should be funded if and only if there is money left after FULLY funding any and all organizations necessary for public safety.

    It is beyond me how Tourism can be considered more important to fund than the Police Department when we regularly get influxes of 15,000 to 20,000 people on weekends.

    We have a fairly safe community because we have a good and effective Police Department. Don’t let the effectiveness of the Police Department make you think that we can get along with fewer Police Officers. That’s a fools analysis.

    • Trouble October 1, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

      Ken- if you were talking about the fire dept. and paramedics I would agree with you more on the public safety issues. I’m really debating the benitfits the police bring to the town over the sheriffs. It sounds to me like Mammoth and Bishop are paying for both , but only using one.

    • Well alrighty then October 2, 2012 at 11:19 am #

      Hit the ole nail on the head Ken. Without an effective force, it is just gonna be all sorts of bad.

  4. Greg October 1, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    Mammoth gives mono county a very large share of sales taxes. Maybe the sheriff should take over the town and eliminate the mammoth pd altogether.

    • Trouble October 1, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

      Benett- I saw a list of crimes reported in Mammoth a while back. What can I look that up under?

      • Benett Kessler October 2, 2012 at 11:58 am #

        Not sure what you’re talking about, but you can type in a key word on our search bar on the top right.

    • Big Rick OB October 1, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

      Greg,do you REALLY want the ” good ol’ boys ” running amok in TOML ? The “us against them attitude” that is prevalent in the Sheriff’s Dept. won’t fly in Mammoth.

      • Mark October 2, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

        Good ol’ boys or Clown Council. Pick the lessor of the two evils, just like we vote for POTUS.

      • Mammothite October 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

        Big Rick, I am very impressed with your knowledge of what is really going on. Your commens are spot on!

  5. Trouble October 1, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    I haven’t heard anyone complaining about the pool and park closure. How much would closing it really save?

    • Anita October 2, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

      I don’t think it will save nearly enough money to make a difference.

    • MeadowGal October 3, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

      It costs approximately $200,000 per year to operate the pool/park complex. Half of that money comes from the County, half from TOML.

  6. MeadowGal October 1, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

    Maybe Assistant Town Manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez could resign, thereby freeing up more than enough money to operate Whitmore pool each year.

  7. MJA October 1, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    The town wants to get rid of the police and the pool and who knows what else so they can pay Ballas one hundred sixty thousand dollars a month for the next twenty three years.
    What exactly did the town do to this guy that would deserve even a small part of that.
    Keep the police and the pool and tell Ballas to get a real job.


  8. steve October 1, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

    I think the best way to resolve this issue is to make a salary reduction across the board. Share sacrifice since this is a “community” and everyone should share the pain.

  9. Sean F October 1, 2012 at 11:34 pm #

    As a former cop I can tell you when a bar fight breaks out in the Village the last thing Mammoth will want is deputies who live out of the area coming in and kicking ass. They will bust heads and not give a crap. All the Mammoth hippies will freak out. I have worked for a Police Department but before that I was a Reserve Deputy in my home town. The town was a sheriff contract city. There is a different degree of policing and relationship with citizens when comparing a city PD to a city that outsources police services to the Sheriff. Yes the Sheriff is cheaper to go with BUT you will get WHAT YOU PAY FOR. The Deputies of Mono County are good guys and good cops but many do not have a direct relationship with the people of Mammoth. The local cops DO know the locals and this makes a difference in the way calls are handled.

    If you want to see people and drunk tourists getting their heads cracked open at the Village on a Saturday night to ahead and contract out police services. Deputies can transfer to other areas if they get into trouble in a contract town or get bad press after kicking some ass. This impacts their thinking and their response to calls. It can become something like an occupying army vs a police/ community partnership you get with a local PD.

    When I was a cop at a PD in a city ( vs a Sheriff contract situation) I went out of my way to make residents feel good and protected and I went out of my way to make sure criminals from out of the area never came back. When you are a cop at a PD you know you may be there for 30 years. You take a much more active roll in solving problems vs a occupying army mentality where you just solve the problem for the shift.

    As a former cop and business owner I am assure everyone the grass is not greener on the other side. Keep a local PD. There is a reason one was created in the first place.

    Residents of Mammoth- stop bitching about how we got here and work to keep things rolling. If you don’t like Mammoth then leave. Complaining about how great the 80’s were and how bad the TC is serves no purpose and is lame.

    We have to move past the judgement. We still need city services ( like cops) and those service are not free.

    I say add some super small % tax to whatever so the city can maintain services and let’s put all this to rest and move forward. People won’t notice some small tax that mainly hits tourists wallets.

    Dear Mammoth PD – I see you guys out on the streets and I know it must suck not knowing the future of some of your careers. Keep your heads up and keep doing the best job possible. Many of us are fighting for you!

    • Mark October 2, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

      We the tax payer haven’t got WHAT WE PAY FOR in a long long time. I still gave you post a thumbs up.

    • JeanGenie October 2, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

      Sean F
      This hippie won’t give a damn cause I won’t be hanging out at the bar when a fight breaks out. And, back in the day, there was no MLPD or “Town of Mammoth” yet there was a ton of tourists on weekends and holidays, and very few problems. bartenders shouldn’t keep serving drunks.
      The Sheriff did a fine job of keeping the peace back then, without being heavyhanded.

      • Sean F October 2, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

        Just for the record I like hippies, hippie music and I even voted for Obama (and will again). Go hippies!

  10. C.Hansen October 2, 2012 at 7:56 am #

    There have been numerious comments on both this blog and “Mammoth TC talks cuts of Police Dept, Whitmore Pool and More.” I would suggest that everyone in the community attend tomorrows council meeting in Suite Z to show your concern about the future of Mammoth Lakes. Even if you feel uncomfortable with speaking in front of the Council and/or community, just the support within council chambers will speak volumes. I plan on being there.

  11. Steve St. Louis October 2, 2012 at 8:02 am #

    I’ve stayed away from expressing my feelings on this site for awhile now, but I think that butchering our fine Police dept is a horrible solution.
    You need a Police Dept of the size we have, because of the amount of people who now reside here in town.
    And I’m sorry to say, mostly young, drunk and drugged up.
    Just think how fast that crowd will grow without MONET and only one Cop on the beat!
    Our Childrens safety is at stake here dammit!
    We need tourism, but get rid of the damn buses and empty units with weed filled yards at the affordable housing first.
    That’s where a lot of the crimes happen anyways.
    And the laborers can walk to work or take one of the taxis in town.
    After all, we all know their not lazy.
    Dont spend anymore money on those banners on main street.
    I cant believe they cost us so much money to change out every 4 months.
    Turn some lights off after 2AM on some of the streets.
    We dont get to have street lights in the ghetto!
    We need more volunteers to help pick up the trash blowing around and maybe even patrol the streets looking for bad doers.
    I dont want to make anyone paranoid here, but get your pepper spray, stun guns and real guns ready if you live in the ghetto.
    The decision makers live in nice plush areas of the town, and I would bet a pay check, that they all have a gun handy even in those nice neighborhoods.
    I think we all understand the hard decisions our leaders have to make these days, however, I dont think they are looking at the big picture as close as they should be.
    There has got to be a way at least, to keep the School Resource Officer and a portion of the MONET task force in place.
    If the leaders in this town allow Mammoth to be awash in drugs, gangs, graffiti and crimes, and it kills the tourism here bad enough for the honest hard working people here to eventually just move, then they would have caused more damage than the airport screw up by far!

    • JeanGenie October 2, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

      Steve SL, Since when do you need a gun in Mammoth, thats just silly.

      • Steve St. Louis October 2, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

        Hopefully no time soon. Really!

    • Wayne Deja October 2, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

      Steve St.Louis…..In a lot of cases,and with a lot of people,that is exactally how they would like it up there….feeling they would be fine,not only with a smaller police force and presents,but,preferably,no police force at all….to do and go as they please 24/7…the only difference from the old west days would be instead of a bunch of rough and rowdy cowboys coming in town for the week-end,it would be,as you said,young people all drunk and drugged up and acting stupid…and the heck with the people like you and your families…The last time I “had” to go to Mammoth was to do a dish-net install at the village…at 11 A.M…and not only did I witness drunks walking around acting all stupid and high, I also had to deal,and work with someone that was obviously drunk and high on the job and acting like a know-it-all foreman trying to tell me what to do.

    • Big AL October 2, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

      I agree with a lof of what you say Steve, and the feelings you have. but I have to say, the comment about most of the people in Mammoth being young drunked up drugged up junkies, that’s stretchin it, i get the message there but the number there is not that high, I don’t think. A lot of people don’t see it how you’re saying.

    • kaat October 3, 2012 at 10:20 am #

      “The decision makers live in nice plush areas of the town, and I would bet a pay check, that they all have a gun handy even in those nice neighborhoods.”

      Steve- the “plush areas of town” will most likely be the target of robberies, not people in the Sierra Valley Sites….down south and in the nice resort areas of Hawaii, it is the wealthy parts of the communities where crime is going up! – I guess there are more valuable things to steal in those homes and condos?

      So, decision makers, think about your plan to decrease the police force, because you need them more than anyone else!

      I think all of the officers should stay and that the town managers should take a pay cut.

      I also find it interesting that our MUSD has shortened it’s school year by one week this school year! I guess the district employees didn’t want to decrease their benefits, so now the kids will have to get by on one week less of school! I don’t think that is a good selling point for wanting to make our school district a “world class” education experience. Very, very sad,

      New town marketing angle: Visit Mammoth: where we can do without a full police force and our school kids get a really LONG summer vacation!

      Those that run the town need to stop, breathe and rethink what is important for our community! And yes, we the citizens, must speak up AND make ourselves heard!

  12. Jeremiah's Alter Ego October 2, 2012 at 8:32 am #

    Our system is rigged!!
    You make a bed you fill a bed. That is the prison and jail theme. There is a elite few that profit from imprisoning our people for ridiculous reasons.
    We do need Police and law enforcement, not to the point they nit pick any violation just to show demand for the enforcement.

  13. MJA October 2, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    That’s 40,000 dollars a week for 23 years!
    Hey can I build a condo at the airport next?


  14. Its the union that we cannot afford! October 2, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    We can afford all the police, and town staff that we need, its the union costs that we cannot afford. If we hired a new non-union staff including new police and paid them the mean wage in Mono county the savings would be far greater then firing 13 people.

    • Mammothite October 2, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

      What union are you talking about? Employees do not belong to a union. They have formed their own employee associations. Their retirement is through CalPers not a union.

  15. Small town Girl October 2, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    I worry about less cops in Mammoth, not because I think we need more enforcment at our local bars, or more cops hasseling people for DUI;s. I worry about what happens to us if there is no one there to protect us when we need them I worry about rapes and robberies, Assults and domestic violence. I worry about what happens when I need some assistance in a matter, and there is no one there to help me because of staff cuts. I worry that the recent drug busts will look like small numbers when the big fish come to swim in our small pond and theres no one to catch them. I worry about what our local Middle and High school kids will be able to get their hands on, and who will be there to correct them.

  16. Employee associations - fine its still the cost October 3, 2012 at 7:06 am #

    It doesn’t matter if its an employee association, a union or just being generous the fact remains that high paying jobs in Mammoth are no longer in the private sector. There is no longer a balance between tax-eaters and tax-payers.

    Didn’t Karen Johnston get fired because it was too expensive to have a high paid assistant town manager? Now Town managers cost us something like $500k/year and doesn’t the police chief make even more?

    Many citizens that do not work for the local government are struggling, losing their jobs, losing their homes yet we continue to pay the tax eaters at a far higher rate.

    We can have all the cops and employees we need if we don’t pay them more than the mean wage. There are a lot of well off people in Mammoth the mean wage is still pretty high.

    • Benett Kessler October 3, 2012 at 8:25 am #

      FYI – the Police Chief makes $183,574 plus benefits, according to the Assistant Town Manager.

      • Devout Liberal October 3, 2012 at 11:41 am #


        How much are the “total” benifits for the Chief?

        • Benett Kessler October 3, 2012 at 11:51 am #

          Not sure. Marianna Marysheva-Martinez said the PERS contribution is out of Town control. Previously, I used to calculate benefits as 30% of base pay. It’s probably more than that now.

          • Mark October 3, 2012 at 11:56 am #

            Pretty sweet deal for the Chief. Bet he absolutely loves living in Mono County too. Who wouldn’t?

          • Elected officials October 3, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

            Let us not forget who Marianna’s bosses are.
            Our elected officials.
            Why should she bite the hands that have been feeding her (and quite generously, might I add) and make her bosses look like fools for paying everybody quite well. Some say too much.
            She works for our elected officials.
            Not John Q. Citizen of Mammoth Lakes.

      • Willie Nelson October 3, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

        Mommas, don’t let your babies grow up to be ski bums.
        Make ’em be doctors and police chiefs and such.

  17. Really October 3, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

    I agree with the gentleman’s above comments that this town is not looking at the big picture.
    Years ago we had the Sheriff’s department at that time the population was about 3,000. This town now has over 7,000 permanent residents not including busy weekends that can bring over 40,000 tourists. I’ve been a victim of vehicle theft at the market, domestic violence and the Police Department showed up within minutes. Who’s to say this will happen with the Sherriff’s department since they don’t work 24/7. It is a good feeling knowing we can be safe.
    I think the town really needs to see where the cuts really should be coming from or how we could gain the revenue back.

    1. PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: This town could and should charge a daily, weekly, and monthly fee for passes, or just get rid of it all together. I have been at other resorts where you pay for transportation.

    2. TOURISM: I think that Rusty Gregory (MMSA) needs to step up and be part of the community not just MMSA.

    3. THE BEAR WHIPERER: Why are we paying Steve Searles 60k plus benefits? He also receives revenue ($$$$$) from Animal Planet that was filmed here in Mammoth Lakes (our Town).

    Let MLPD, DFG AND FOREST SERVICE handle the bears like they have been since the town was incorporated.

    4. TOWN MANAGER: Why do we need two town managers? I don’t see them taking any cuts
    5. TOWN COUNCIL: There are two town council members that have been in office for years. They are part of the reason why the town is broke.

    MAMMOTH LAKES needs to re-evaluate why we live here.

  18. Trouble October 3, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    Maybe if our legal system wasn’t so gun-ho for so long now, they would have more support when they need it.


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