Arthur A. Jones, J.D., Dr.jur.
Robin Wiseman, J.D., Dr.h.c.
International Human Rights Law and Policy
email to: Arthur@lacp.org
SUMMARY, POSITION PAPER
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
SAFETY AND COUNTY POLICY:
OBJECTION TO PREFERENTIAL BUDGETARY TREATMENT
OF CAPITAL PROJECTS AND/OR REFURBISHMENTS
OVER PUBLIC SAFETY REQUIREMENTS,
SPECIFICALLY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT BUDGET, 2002-03.
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 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:
Survey (Law Enforcement Management and Administration Statistics)
conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and released
in February 2001;
Foundation Report on Community Policing Services Grants
and their Impact on Violent Crime Rates, June 2001; and
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.
A. Jones, J.D., Dr.jur.
Robin Wiseman, J.D., Dr.h.c.
Los Angeles, California
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:
Devastates Community Policing
and the Sheriff has a real fight on his hands
For additional information or a complete list of references, contact: