A Solution to LASD-County Fracas?

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

Re: Signal editorial, Feb. 12.

What if L.A. County and the people running it had found their mission to deliver high-quality services had become impossible, and the service provided had become substandard, or their ability to control such services had been politicized and public employee unions had attained a degree of power that was not in the interest of the county nor its citizens? It is a hypothesis. It is speculation, and it is not necessarily factual. 

Maybe, though, it is a reflection of the kind of speculative rhetoric so common in media, and in opinion-driven cultural belief tribes. So, let’s take a flight of fancy so beloved in modern rhetoric.

Consider: The mere fact that there is a power struggle ongoing evidences something very wrong with the service, and those who run the enterprise are duty-bound to address problems.

Were this a private or corporate problem, we members of the public might never get visibility to personnel problems like this one. In that sphere the investors, owners, or board of directors would seek to resolve the matter through internal policy or employment law.

In private enterprise, the “at will” nature of employment is a utility that makes for MOSTLY peaceable and quiet employment discharges.

However, the various objecting opinions of public employee unions definitely demonstrate that “at will” is non-applicable in union-represented public employment.

The skirmish/power struggle between the elected sheriff, Alex Villaneuva, and the elected Board of Supervisors, who are technically the equivalent of a board of directors, is an example of one group of politicians dealing with another politician who is technically an employee of their enterprise. Rough equivalent in corporate structure might be a serious disagreement between a division vice president and his corporation’s board of directors.

There is a relatively simple solution to the fracas.

The 42 cities that contract with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department could form their own constabularies and stop contracting with the county to provide the service. Two things COULD happen that are positive resolutions to the problem.

1) Local constabularies achieve local control and perhaps even select members of their own communities to enforce the law.

2) The county is relieved of duty and responsibility for citizens whose locale may have divergent opinions or needs from what the county service can provide.

As an example, Supervisor Kathryn Barger has abstained from the current fracas. It may be hard for her to be objective because she is not a consumer of LASD services. San Marino, like many locales throughout her district, has its own constabulary. Even the modest city of El Monte has its own police department.

Now, this is all speculative and hypothetical. Yet, this solution is already demonstrably proven as possible, and widespread, and maybe even desirable. It might appeal to emotive feelings brought about in the iconic “good old days” when the local cop was caring and in touch with the community, like the Andy Taylor character played by Andy Griffith on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

It may be that supervisors have already concluded the same, and are hoping other elected officials get some insight to problem solving, especially solutions that may be beneficial to all involved.

Christopher Lucero


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