Compton to Vote on Reviving City Police Force
CHRISTINA HOAG (Associated Press Writer)
June 1, 2010
COMPTON, Calif.—The defunct Compton Police Department may be making a comeback a decade after being disbanded under a cloud of corruption and politics.
The city council is set to vote Tuesday night to start the process of forming a local police force. Councilwoman Yvonne Arceneaux said she expects the motion to pass.
“It’s always better to have your own,” Arceneaux said. “We’re at the mercy of the county now.”
Once notorious as hub of gang activity, Compton has seen largely declining crime rates since 2000 when the police department was disbanded and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department took over.
“The city can do whatever they think is best,” said Steve Whitmore, spokesman for Sheriff Lee Baca. “But we’ve done a remarkable job of policing the city of Compton, and residents know that.”
Some in the city, including Mayor Eric Perrodin, a former Compton police officer, have long yearned to bring back the local police as a sign of civic pride, although residents have not always agreed. In 2004, 68 percent of voters defeated a ballot initiative to revive the city police.
The latest push grew out of a feasibility study on the issue that the council authorized in 2008. The study, headed by former Compton police chief Joseph Rouzan Jr., found the police department would cost about $18 million to run with 85 officers in its first year. It would take about 18 months to ramp up to full force.
The city currently pays the sheriff’s department about $17 million a year for about 75 deputies. Compton also has free access to sheriff’s services such as helicopters and tactical units that specialize in gangs and other areas of law enforcement, Whitmore said.
Besides getting more officers for less money with its own police force, the city would also reap about $1 million in fines, forfeitures and grants, the feasibility report said.
The council recently renewed its five-year contract with the sheriff. If the city council authorizes the city manager to start the process of forming a new police department, it’s unclear how the city would terminate that contract.
Arceneaux said both forces would operate during a transitional phase.
Last August, the city council set aside $20 million for startup costs for a new police department and last month held four town hall meetings for public comments on the issue.
Royce Esters, who heads the local chapter of the National Association for the Equalization of Justice in America, said his group has worked well with the sheriff’s department in the past.
“Whoever is here, we’re going to make them accountable to the community,” he said. “We’re going to monitor them.”