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November 15, 2014

DHS Public Safety Commission - 11/13/2014

The first part of the November 13, 2014, meeting of the Public Safety Commission meeting was a joint meeting with the City Council. There was a fascinating discussion on the function of the Commission and how it relates to the City Council. Following that was yet another scintillating presentation by Riverside Animal Control and a discussion of licensing and enforcement (nobody's getting fined, so calm down!). It was as scintillating as the other two or three times this subject has come up in the last year. The audio recording has not yet been posted on the city's website, but I'm sure that after it is you will want to spend a couple of satisfying hours listening to it.

I, however, am going to skip over all that good stuff and just go right to the police report delivered by Chief Maynard during the last hour of the meeting after the City Council had left. Fire Chief Tomlinson was not present, so there was no fire report.


Chief Maynard said that the money budgeted by the City Council for Animal Control will run out by the end of March 2015. If their [disastrous] licensing campaign had continued, it would have raised $100,000 to offset the city's costs. [But then, of course, the Carl May would be jammed full of angry residents.] Animal Control is working with the city to try to get us through this fiscal year.

In October the Police Department began using its traffic safety grant to do some traffic enforcement. The grant, received close to the end of the month, was for $124,000. About $70,000 of that is earmarked for overtime. The remainder is for equipment, which will include DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols, traffic enforcement, distracted driver enforcement, pedestrian safety [my suggestion is two big nets arrayed at night in the middle of Palm Drive, one by Stater Bros., the other by Vons, that will be used to ensnare those chronic darkly dressed jaywalkers], and warrant service operations targeting DUI offenders.

In October the DUI saturation patrol on October 22 made 18 traffic stops, issued 17 citations (speed and failure to stop), performed two field sobriety tests, and one arrest for an unlicensed driver. Warrant service resulted in three arrests. While doing the distracted driver enforcement they made 12 stops and issued 11 citations for texting or talking on a handheld phone while driving.

Chair Bowman asked if they turned up any felons with outstanding warrants when making these traffic stops. The Chief replied, "The problem with traffic enforcement in Desert Hot Springs is that you can't make two or three car stops without winding up taking somebody to jail."

He said Mayor Pro Tem Betts participated in a ride-along and praised the professionalism of the officers.

On October 13 there was a midday robbery at MetroPCS. The perpetrator pulled a gun on the employee who gave him cash from two cash registers, a total of $650. The suspect walked away and has not been located yet. He was described as a black male, 6'1", 150 lbs., wearing a black hat with white lettering, a blue Polo-type shirt with a Polo emblem and the number "3" on the right shoulder. There are no current leads.

On October 24 at 9 PM Desert Regional contacted our Police to report that they had a 5-week old infant with rib fractures, a separated shoulder, and a broken clavicle. The child was, of course, taken by Child Protective Services. Charges are being filed on the parents who are on Osprey Lane, according to the Chief.

In the afternoon of October 28 officers responded to a residence on Desert View where a woman had given birth at home. "The newborn had not been seen by medical staff." The mother said the baby was born the day before. The baby was taken to Desert Regional and Child Protective Services took custody. This is the second time this woman has done this.

On October 30 in the afternoon a dad on parole was teaching his son how to use a shotgun. That included mishandling the gun so that it fired while they were inside their garage. Both of them were wounded, but not too seriously. They both went to Desert Regional and Dad was arrested (felon and parolee in possession of a firearm).

In October there were 24 reports of shots fired - but no one was hit. On the night of October 4 a man approached a soon-to-be victim at 1st and Mesquite and asked for a cigarette. When the perpetrator turned around and began fumbling at his waistband (as if grabbing a gun, I presume, not that he was trying to undress) the innocent party ran into his home. After that he heard one shot, but officers could not find any shell casings or impact locations.

Late on October 7, at the apartment complex at 66900 Ironwood, there was a report that three shots had been heard. They did not see the shooter, but the victim was in his apartment asleep when his sliding glass door shattered. The bullet was found lodged in an interior wall. The victim had no gang affiliations, so the police think it was a case of bad aim.

On October 15 there was a shooting in the 66600 of 4th Street. The victim said the shooter was a member of the 12th Street gang who fired from a moving car. The victim refused to provide any additional information, but he is a gang member himself so he threatened retaliation.

On October 23 at Palm and Pierson, a person was stopped on Pierson at the red light. He was approached by an adult black female who said a man was trying to hurt her. While the victim was keeping his attention on the female, a black male approached from the driver's side and put a machete to the driver's throat while demanding money. The female opened the passenger side door and took the driver's cellphone. The victim also gave them $200. Both perpetrators fled easterly.

On November 1, late at night, in the 66700 block of Buena Vista, officers found a stolen vehicle. They conducted surveillance. A man got into the stolen car and drove away. The officers attempted to make a car stop, but the driver did not comply. He was pursued through the north end of the city, eventually stopping on Avenida Ladera where the man was arrested. The "man" was 15 years old.

Late at night on November 8 in the 13400 block of Mountain Top numerous shots were fired. Thirty shell casings and large amounts of blood were found in the road. No victim was present. Witnesses said two rival Hispanic groups crashed a party there and faced off in the road. One victim, a West Drive gang member, turned up at Desert Regional and another (from Coachella) was at Eisenhower. Initially this case was called in as a loud party about an hour before the shooting. Two officers and a Sergeant were on duty that night and they were tied up on calls that had a higher priority than a report of a loud party.

Chief Maynard said this is a city where officers want to work. Despite the challenges and the huge pay cut, we have a contingent of officers who love the city, he said. There are others who want to work here, but the lack of a decision by the City Council as to whether the city will contract with the Sheriff or continue to have a Police Department hangs like a pall over the hiring process. "We are unable to recruit qualified personnel," the Chief said.

The Chief reminded us that the Sheriff's Department had presented a bid to the City Council, but the City Council has not acted on it. More than a third of the sworn personnel left the Police Department. There are six people in the process that may lead to being hired.

The Chief said the Sheriff's bid was not completely comprehensive. Last week our Chief submitted five pages of questions to Chief Deputy John Anderson.

The Chief has developed a budget for the Police Department for 2014/15 so that there will be a real budget to compare to the Sheriff's bid. He and City Manager MagaƱa met with the City Manager of Coachella to discuss the 17% increase in their cost for law enforcement services by the Sheriff's office. The Coachella City Manager said it is not unusual for the Sheriff to require an 8% to 10% increase every year. Often those increases come in the middle of a fiscal year and are retroactive to the beginning of the fiscal year.

Chief Maynard's budget for 14/15 would provide for 29 police officers, six full-time and one part-time non-sworn positions, and would provide a payscale for the Chief and Commander that would allow the city to attract the type of Chief and Commander we deserve. The grand total of all expenses for the police in his proposed 2014/15 budget is $6.5 million. That allows them to put a Sergeant, three officers, and a 2-person roving team on the streets, seven days a week. There would be four Detectives, the Detective Sergeant, and one civilian support services manager (who would be less expensive than a second Commander). That civilian support services manager would be in charge of evidence, CSI, the Community Service Officer, the Community Resource Officer, the records clerks (one FT, one PT) and a full time administrative assistant.

The Sheriff's Department has said their $5.9 million basic bid is out the window. The bid now would be about 12% higher (that would put it at about $6.6 million). The Sheriff's bid did not include the ongoing costs that the city must pay whether we have the Sheriff or the Police Department. Chief Maynard's budget of $6.5 million does include all of those expenses. He said he has a page-long list of these expenses. They include ERICA (until 2023), the police vehicles lease for the next two years at $120,000/year, graffiti abatement also at $120,000/year, and more.

Chief Maynard's budget includes two positions funded by PSUSD: the school resource officer and a Prop 109 probation/parole officer. Those are included in the $6.5 million figure. The full expense of the probation/parole officer is funded by the PSUSD. The school resource officer is also fully funded...at the low pay that our officers now make. If the Sheriff's Department were to provide a school resource officer, the full cost would go up about $40,000. When you look at the full cost (not just salary) of a Sheriff's Deputy and one our Police Officers, the Sheriff's Deputy costs $50/hour more than our Police. That's using our current pay rates (which are severely cut).

Chief Maynard has also asked Chief Deputy Anderson to be present when he makes his presentation to the City Council so that everything is as transparent as possible. He said he wants the council to make a decision soon [before his 960 hour limit is reached, I'm sure]. He will try to bring it to the City Council at their December 2 meeting, but he also would bring it before the Public Safety Commission first, which would mean a special meeting for them later this month. He said both the officers and the community need an answer to this; Sheriff or Police.

Vice Chair Meyer said that when San Jacinto was considering contracting with the Sheriff's Department they had two or three meetings of their Public Safety Commission first, to allow people from the community to come to voice their concerns and get their questions answered.

The Chief said his $6.5 million includes a realistic amount of overtime. He intends to be able to render a genuine apples-to-apples comparison.

Vice Chair Meyer said that the Sheriff's Department has plenty of staff to put together answers to the questions Chief Maynard has sent to them. If they don't have an answer within a week, "then there's a problem," he said.

The Commission informally agreed to hold their next meeting on Thursday, November 20 at 6 PM. They hope to have it at the Carl May Center, but if there is a conflict it may be held elsewhere. Check the city's website for the official location and time.

Moving on to other matters, the Chief said he believes they have a suspect in the tagging of the Orca Mural...now they just need some evidence to prove it.

At a previous meeting Mr. Meyer said he had discussed a line item in the old police budget with Councilmember McKee that seemed to indicate overtime had been budgeted at $1.3 million, which is a figure that is far too high. Chief Maynard has researched that and determined that in previous years OT, comp time, and leave buyout were all rolled into one line of the budget and that could be $1.3 million.

Further, the Chief said that the passage of Prop 47 will cause more problems for law enforcement.

Commissioner Reports

Commissioner Lavy asked to add an item to a future agenda so that the Commission could discuss the parcel tax again, possibly as a non-special tax this time - that is, not designated for public safety and requiring only a simple majority for approval. Chair Bowman agreed.

Commissioner Eastman said the CERT program is really growing among the high school students.

Commissioner Stephens said that she has observed people in the flood channel in Hacienda Heights at night. The fences that should keep people out have been torn down.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs,Public Safety | permalink | November 15, 2014 at 04:38 PM


hey guys..forget me posting this as a "press item"..I was thinking that when an agreement is made that we notify them..clarification.

Posted by: Mike Picardi at Nov 19, 2014 7:55:59 PM

When looking at the numbers, keep in mind there is a departmental budget and then a total budget that includes costs not covered in the departmental budget. Those other costs include legal, mandated benefits, and pension, to name a few. All represent very significant dollar amounts. And the issue of future salary increases in any new contract has not even been touched - and couldn't be with the pending litigation.

At this point the council has asked the finance staff for the total budget. That is being worked up but is not done yet. Until that work is complete, it is very much premature to suggest "citizens need to see these numbers" and press releases should be issued.

Posted by: Russell Betts at Nov 19, 2014 10:56:17 AM

The proposed November 20 meeting is not going to happen. The Sheriff's Department still hasn't answered Chief Maynard's questions.

Posted by: Ron's Log at Nov 18, 2014 10:26:47 PM

Thanks for the numbers on the sheriff vs the police department.
The citizens need to see these numbers so they are aware of the differences. I would like to post this a a press item asa the Commission and the Council set dates for hearings.

Posted by: Mike Picardi at Nov 18, 2014 12:59:58 PM

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