Sheriff's Budget Cutbacks
to LA County Board of Supervisors


Arthur A. Jones, J.D., Dr.jur.
Robin Wiseman, J.D., Dr.h.c.

International Human Rights Law and Policy
email to:


To the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
---------------------------------- June 24, 2002

Gloria Molina, 1st District Supervisor
Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, 2nd District Supervisor
Zev Yaroslavsky, 3rd District Supervisor
Don Knabe, 4th District Supervisor
Michael D. Antonovich, 5th District

500 W. Temple, Los Angeles, CA 90012



Summary of points contained in full text of Position Paper submitted on May 21, 2002.

Summary of Points:

The purpose of this Position Paper is to articulate our objections to the Board's budgetary policy, which gives greater priority to capital projects than to public safety, by cutting the LASD budget (or by restricting use of portions of the LASD budget by dedicating funds to litigation and worker compensation settlements) in the total amount of approximately $ 100 million in 2002-03.

(We refer to our research paper dated May 21, 2002, in opposition to reductions in funding of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department; our oral presentation to the Board of Supervisors of May 21, 2002; and our editorial page article in the Los Angeles Daily News of May 20, 2002, addressing that same issue.)

Specifically, we refer to that portion of the 2002-03 Proposed Budget entitled "Capital Projects/Refurbishments Addendum". Of the total proposed expenditure contained in that addendum of $480 million, approximately $ 337 million is to be spent on buildings, parks, and recreational facilities. Of that amount, over $ 135 million would be spent on headquarters county administration buildings, Patriotic Hall in Los Angeles, and a lengthy list of golf courses and small local airstrips.

Unlike inner city civic centers that support and encourage sports, activities and mentoring for our young people, the building, golfing and private aircraft facilities do not even purport to contribute to crime reduction or prevention in Los Angeles County.

According to the FBI report published today, June 24, 2002, crime rates are rising generally across the United States, and especially in the West. This places an additional urgency and responsibility upon the Board of Supervisors to meet the requirements of crime prevention as a top priority.

Public safety, being the protection of all lives and property within the jurisdiction of the Board of Supervisors, cannot be sacrificed in favor of building or refurbishing existing real property or restricted recreational facilities such as golf courses or local airstrips. Those amenities are used only by a small portion of the residents, and to fund them at the expense of public safety would be to demonstrate a deliberate indifference to human safety and welfare that shocks the conscience.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is one of the most efficient and effective police forces in the United States. It is an international leader and model for community policing innovations and enlightened crime prevention techniques. The LASD constitutes a seamless web of interlocking, essential components in public safety protection. It is, contrary to the polemic of one Supervisor, a lean and streamlined organism. The Board cannot cut off selected limbs or parts of that organism and still expect the remaining trunk to function successfully.

It has been conclusively demonstrated that funding cutbacks and restrictive appropriations in advanced, community-based crime intervention and prevention programs lead, directly and inevitably, to significantly higher rates of homicide, injuries, sexual assaults, other crimes of violence, gang activity, and property crimes. The same will apply to Los Angeles County as a whole, and will include those cities contracting with LASD for their policing services. All major, recent studies nationwide buttress this conclusion. They include:

LEMAS Survey (Law Enforcement Management and Administration Statistics) conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and released in February 2001;
Heritage Foundation Report on Community Policing Services Grants and their Impact on Violent Crime Rates, June 2001; and
Zhao Report, National Evaluation of the Effect of COPS Grants on Crime from 1994 to 1999, January 2002.

The Board's decision to compromise public safety would have a measurable negative impact on the municipal credit ratings of cities throughout Los Angeles County, thus creating exposure to litigation against the County by one or more of those cities. The Board's decision to compromise public safety would likewise create the possibility of civil litigation against the County of Los Angeles under Title 42 USC 1983 (Civil Rights Act 1979 as amended). Where a municipal or local governmental body, as a matter of policy, causes violations of basic constitutional rights, civil remedies can be exercised.

If a municipality or county government "subjects, or causes to be subjected", another person to the deprivation of federally protected rights (life, limb, property), then 42 USC 1983 specifically imposes liability for the torts of another person if the local government "caused" the tort to be committed. If harm to others is predictable or inevitable, then the government policy or action causing the harm is deemed to be the result of "deliberate indifference" by the policy making body.

(See Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658,691 (1979); Pembaur v. Cincinnati, 475 U.S. 469,480 (1986); Springfield v. Kibbe, 480 U.S. 257,266-267 (1987); County of Sacramento et al. v. Lewis et al., No. 96-1337, 523 U.S. ____, May 26, 1998, citing Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327,331 (1986).)

Deliberate indifference can be demonstrated by the absence of policy justifications of competing governmental interests: For hypothetical example, where public safety budgets are cut --during times of rising crime and financial crisis-- in favor of offices, golf courses and airstrips, thus encouraging criminal tortfeasors to act with impunity.

If the Board of Supervisors should decide to jeopardize public safety in that manner, it would open itself to serious, vociferous and widespread criticism of its choices. It can then anticipate a high level of interest in its processes, both across the nation and abroad. The County's image and its competitive position in trade and investment will suffer significantly.

For the foregoing reasons, we ask for the full reinstatement of the LASD budget for 2002-03, and refer the Board to our accompanying text of the Position Paper, in which our arguments, authorities and conclusions are set forth in detail.

Respectfully submitted,

Arthur A. Jones, J.D., Dr.jur.
Robin Wiseman, J.D., Dr.h.c.

Los Angeles, California
Genoa, Italy
June 24, 2002

Note: This summary is not a legal opinion. It is not intended to serve as legal advice or as a suggestion that any person should engage in, or abstain from, litigation concerning the public policy arguments set forth herein, either at present or at any future date.


--- Arthur A. Jones and Robin Wiseman are international human rights lawyers with legal educations in the United States and Europe. They are consultants and authors on international policing, social policy and human rights.


Note: See also the LA Community Policing article from 5/25/02:

Budget Devastates Community Policing
and the Sheriff has a real fight on his hands


For additional information or a complete list of references, contact:

Dr. Arthur Jones