Mono County’s top prosecutor has officially gone on record in a written memo to say that the Mammoth Town Council’s plan to cut seven police officer positions will result in “nothing but negative consequences.” (See entire memo below story.)
Mono District Attorney Tim Kendall sent that memo to the Mammoth Town Council October 23rd. In it he says that he appreciates the Council’s difficult financial situation, but Kendall said he is “gravely concerned” about the proposed elimination of police positions. The DA says he sees “nothing but negative consequences resulting from this proposal.” Kendall says as DA it is his responsibility to protect the community and crime victims.
DA Kendall points out that when officers can not immediately respond to crimes due to a lack of manpower, law enforcement attention can not be given to a victim and “crucial evidence will not be collected and will be lost.” Kendall said that quick response to a crime scene is “paramount to any successful prosecution.” The DA went so far as to say that “almost 100% of crimes get solved, prosecuted and result in convictions when there is a quick law enforcement response.”
Kendall writes to the Mammoth Town Council that “A gutted police department will have neither the time nor bodies to complete a timely investigation. Crimes will go unsolved,” he said, “and victims (a large percentage of whom are tourists) will never see justice or be made whole again.” The DA says that visitors will walk away dissatisfied with the system and with Mammoth. Said DA Kendall, “This is not the image for Mammoth Lakes.”
Beyond that, Kendall wrote that the lack of safety is “one of the primary reasons why cities, towns and neighborhoods decline. If a neighborhood is unsafe,” he said, “people don’t buy there. If your business is located in an unsafe area, your business will fail. If our town is unsafe,” said Kendall, “people will not come here.”
Kendall said his office already assists the Mammoth Lakes Police Department as much as possible on case investigations and will continue to do so, but he states that elimination of Mammoth police positions will “task my office with a tremendous increase in case investigations and the difficulty of piecing cases together.”
The DA said his office will do the best they can to serve Mammoth, but he does not see his office hiring additional investigators. The DA concludes his letter by saying that crime will always exist and the question is how will Mammoth handle it. Said Kendall, “Eliminating positions and reducing your police force is not the answer.”
MONO DISTRICT ATTORNEY TIM KENDALL MEMO:
October 23, 2012
Mammoth Lakes Town Council:
Re: Proposal to eliminate positions at the Mammoth Lakes Police Department
Honorable Town Council:
Thank you in advance for considering my comments in this very difficult situation that you now face. I know your priority is to serve the overall best interest of the town and I for one greatly appreciate the difficulty of that responsibility. That being said, I am gravely concerned, as I know you are, to the proposed elimination of positions to the Police Department. From both a law enforcement perspective as well as a community perspective based on our tourist destination, I see nothing but negative consequences resulting from this proposal. I know the town council has to juggle many issues but unlike the council, I, as your District Attorney have only one top priority and that is to protect the community in which we live by giving victim’s a voice and serving justice for our community.
The impacts on my office and the justice system will be consequential if additional positions are eliminated. When officers are unable to immediately respond to crimes that are committed because of manpower two things occur. First, immediate law enforcement attention cannot be given to a victim and second, because officers cannot immediately respond to a scene, crucial evidence will not be collected and lost. Quick response to a crime scene is paramount to any successful prosecution. Almost 100% of crimes get solved, prosecuted and result in convictions when there is a quick law enforcement response. Less than 50% of cases get solved, prosecuted and result in convictions when a case is investigated days or weeks after an incident.
Investigating a crime days or weeks after its occurrence takes a tremendous amount of time, money and bodies to gather necessary information needed for a successful prosecution. A gutted police department will have neither the time nor bodies to complete a timely investigation. Crimes will go unsolved and victims (a large percentage who are tourist) will never see justice or be made whole again. The justice system will have failed them and they will walk away dissatisfied with the system and dissatisfied with Mammoth Lakes. If any member of the council has been a victim of a serious crime you know what I am talking about. This is not the image for Mammoth Lakes that we want people to walk away with. The lack of safety is one of the primary reasons why cities, towns, and neighborhoods decline. If a neighborhood is unsafe, people don’t buy there. If your business is located in an unsafe area, your business will fail. If our town is unsafe, people will not come here.
My office already assists the police department as much as we possibly can on case investigations and will continue to do so because the safety of Mammoth Lakes is our first priority. Your safety is our priority. Elimination of positions will task my office with a tremendous increase in case investigations and the difficulty of piecing cases together. At this time, I do not see my office hiring additional investigators to help in all the additional investigations, however, I will assure you that we will continue to do the best we can to assist the Police Department. One factor that will never change is that crime will always exist. The question becomes how does the town handle it? Eliminating position and reducing your police force is not the answer.
Thank you for your time and consideration to this very important issue.
Mono County District Attorney