Tag: Reserves

McDonnell Pal Said To Get County Ride for Raising Campaign Cash

The head of Jim McDonnell’s secretive 2014 political independent expenditure committee was rewarded for steering McDonnell nearly $400,000 in campaign cash with a take-home patrol car and status as Queen Bee of LASD’s reserves, an LASD watchdog reported Friday night.

In fact, we understand Skobin may be the only reserve to have a county car, regularly gassed up at Santa Clarita Station.

Full credit to Surruo.com for breaking this news. We cannot independently confirm it, though we do understand there is photo and documentary evidence. We also understand from county sources the vehicle is either assigned to Skobin personally or is assigned, on paper to the Taskforce for Regional Auto-Theft Prevention but that Skobin gets virtually exclusive use of it and has often been seen driving and gassing it. (How many full-time TRAP deputies get a county ride?)

This, six years after the LA Times reported similar corruption afoot under Sheriff Baca.

Alan Skobin, whose day job is General Counsel of Galpin Motors (a huge donor to McDonnell and other politicians under the Galpin name, the Skobin family name, as well as the Boeckman family which owns Galpin), first became chummy with McDonnell when Skobin was an LAPD commissioner and McDonnell a member of the LAPD brass.

Skobin has been an LASD reserve deputy for many years. Though LASD.News doesn’t know him, we know he is generally well liked and none of this is to take away from whatever he has legitimately done on the department. But he also has outsized access and influence, which is directly related to his political and financial relationship with Sheriff McDonnell.

In fact, Skobin ran McDonnell’s secretive 2014 political action committee, the “Friends of Jim McDonnell 2014“. He has also been active in supporting McDonnell this cycle.

In 2004, after all the pay-for-play that went on during the Baca years, McDonnell touted his refusal to accept donations from department employees or vendors (though he gladly took money bundled by such characters). Generally, vendor and shady money instead flowed through Skobin’s PAC, which spent it on billboards (see below), radio ads and even more radio ads. Such donors were then rewarded with access to McDonnell at his election night bash, swearing in ceremony and other fancy events.

Examples of questionable donors to McDonnell’s PAC include:

IMG_3600

Once McDonnell was in office, Skobin was made Chief in charge of the “Reserve Leadership Team,” with direct access to McDonnell, often outside the chain of command.

Indeed, just three days ago, after LASD.News reported on how Sheriff McDonnell has destroyed LASD’s reserve program, we understand the Office of the Sheriff gave Skobin special access to send all reserves a defense of McDonnell through county systems to their personal email addresses. In the letter, which you can find here, Skobin defends McDonnell’s abuse of the reserve program and quibbles with a couple inaccuracies in our reporting to dismiss our overall conclusion that the reserve program is far weaker than it was four years ago.

In fact, LASD.News spoke with several reservists recently, with one saying of the current mood among LASD’s reserves:

“Everybody is laying-low, trying not to get fired.”

Sounds about how the regular deputies feel.

So, what did we get wrong in that article (with no access to official department resources)?

  • LASD reserves have decreased about 25% in three years, not 50%. However, this was after about 60 reserves were terminated by Interim Sheriff John Scott just prior to McDonnell’s taking office, so figuring that in, it’s about 30%.
  • Skobin quibbles with how many reserves are assigned to patrol versus search and rescue. But our numbers were clearly approximate. The real point was that out of 600 reserves, how many are actually, regularly going 10-8 and serving the community in a meaningful way on patrol? We think that number is pretty low. Figure each station has maybe 2-3 adding real value, so figure maybe 50 countywide. Morale and engagement are far lower now than they were 3-4 years ago.
  • And while Skobin suggests the approximately 200 reserves who have left in the last three years were bad/political apples, he fails to reconcile how many hard-working reserves have left or been forced out with how many ones with political juice (like himself or McDonnell donor Onnik Mehrabian) remained.
    IMG_3596
    Skobin With Sheriff Baca At The Height of the Pandora’s Box Federal Investigation (2013)

    img_3597.jpg
    Skobin Receiving An Award on Behalf of Donor Galpin Motors (2012)
  • We’re also not sure about LAPD’s reserve CCW issuance rules today. The LAPD reservists we know say they did not need CCWs because department policy allowed them to carry without it. Skobin says that’s not true. We’re not sure. Frankly, we don’t really care. LASD’s reserve program has been the leading program in the country for decades and LAPD shouldn’t be a model.The point is that we are hearing from numerous duly sworn and trained reserve deputy sheriffs that it’s gotten far harder to legally protect themselves off-duty in the last six months.Is it true or is not true that reserves are being made to meet a “good cause” threshold to receive a CCW, despite the fact that they are deputy sheriffs? And are peace officers being told they have failed to articulate “good cause” and are being denied?And if CCWs are not being issued to deputy sheriffs, what is the likelihood they are essentially being forced to carry illegally?

The reserve program is far weaker than it was four years ago. And we bet the state of the program and how it can be made better has gotten a lot more attention in the last two weeks since our reporting than in the four years before it.

(You’re welcome.)

 

Advertisements

Bob Lindsey Lands Endorsement of California Reserve Peace Officers

Shortly after we reported last night that Jim McDonnell has utterly destroyed LASD’s reserve program in just three years, we learned that the California Reserve Peace Officers Association just endorsed Bob Lindsey to be Los Angeles County’s next sheriff.

Like many of us, CRPOA endorsed/voted for Jim McDonnell four years ago…but they’ve seen how LASD’s reserve program has been decimated, how its reserves and community are being abused, and have taken a stand.

The organization represents California’s approximately 6,200 reserve deputy sheriffs and police officers, including by representing reserve issues in Sacramento, updating reserves on news/law/policy issues effecting them, through legal protection, through significant training at their annual conference, insurance, and numerous other benefits.

CRPOA’s endorsement of Bob Lindsey is a testament that they get it.

If you are an LASD reserve deputy, you need to protect yourself–from LASD.

First, you need to vote for Bob Lindsey to be sheriff–and get everyone else you know to do the same. Don’t just tell them. Don’t just ask. Make sure they do it.

Second, you need to join CRPOAThey’re standing by you when LASD and its unions haven’t.

Third, you might also consider becoming a reserve member of the Professional Peace Officers Association (PPOA). If you get into something, McDonnell will still fire you because he’s a terrible person, but until then at least you’ll get some discounted uniforms from PPOA’s in-house store.

Don’t join ALADS. They cost three times as much as CRPOA and won’t do anything for you. They won’t let you vote in their elections, you won’t get discounted uniforms, and if you get in trouble they’ll shrug and say you’re S-O-L. Several sources have told us this from personal experience. And after their failure to endorse Bob Lindsey despite the wishes of 93% of their most active members, they may not even be around in a year anyway.

Thank you to the CRPOA for standing with LASD’s reserves, and for standing with everyone fighting to make LASD great again.

McDonnell Destroys LASD Reserve Program

Update: Shortly after this article was posted on Monday, the California Reserve Peace Officers Association endorsed Bob Lindsey for Sheriff. Every LASD reserve should join CRPOA for protection from the Department and for reserve-focused representation, both in court and in Sacramento.  Now back to the article…!

———————

LASD’s Reserve Program is one of its most valuable assets. Or, it was.

LASD’s reservists were the engine behind $10 million per year in free labor to the county and contract cities before Jim McDonnell took office, and the backbone of our county charter-mandated search and rescue capability. At my station, I often saw reserves show up to fill spots in the schedule–they handled calls of all kinds, backed their partners, and got into some good police work. Some were always “getting on the patch”. They were always happy to be there, even when we weren’t. But those days are over. Given McDonnell’s lack of interest in all the things that have made LASD great, and the ability with which he is manipulated by people with their own agendas, he has managed to obliterate a proud and valuable asset it took the county 50 years to build in a little over three.  Consider:

  • The size of the reserve program has been cut in half since McDonnell took office between retirements, resignations and at-will terminations.The program stood at about 800 members before McDonnell took office, was at 657 in fall 2016, and is around 450 today. Of those, how many are actually, regularly working patrol?  50?  Maybe?
      • [EDITOR’S NOTE: We are working to validate the true number of current reserves. Some sources have said ~450; others have said it may be around 600. In either case, it’s down big time and people are working less than ever.]
    • With 250 or so reserves and volunteers assigned to search and rescue, the number of reserves patrolling (for free) the county and contract cities is probably the lowest its ever been. This at a time the department is down roughly 1,500 deputies with no end in sight.

Who are we talking about here? Reserve deputies are academy-trained volunteer deputy sheriffs. They serve for $1 per year work across the department based on their expertise and interests. The reserve program is a huge free labor pool–and a massive opportunity for the department to build bridges with the community.

Each one of these reserves is an ambassador of law enforcement and of LASD to their families, social and professional networks. They, and their power to influence and build bonds within the community, should be respected, not abused.

  • Is this a case of quality over quantity? Nope. Many of the reserves who have quit or retired did so because they were demoralized. Many have also been fired (without cause or due process), typically for the crime of doing police work.
  • Numerous reserves have also left LASD to become reserves–or go full time–at other agencies. In fact, one recent LASD Reserve of the Year can be found over at Glendale now. Given all the hassle and risk involved in starting someplace new, why would somebody do that…?

Now we have learned, reserves are essentially unable to obtain concealed weapons permits. When they apply to renew their existing permit, virtually 100% have been denied for lack of “good cause”–the same excuse McDonnell uses to refuse them to the public. To be clear: he is refusing CCWs to police officers. This comes just a month after LASD.News exclusively reported that McDonnell was also revoking CCWs from retired deputies. Obviously all the deputies he’s fired for nonsense are on their own, too. Who’s next?

  • It should be noted that state law does not require reserves to even obtain a CCW. LAPD simply allows its reserves to carry off-duty and it’s written on the back of their cards. LASD has chosen to require CCWs and is now making it impossible to get them. This puts deputies’ lives in danger. Indeed, given that several LASD reserves have saved lives through off-duty incidents, it puts the public in danger.
  • We are not talking about politically-connected Level 3 reserves/McDonnell donors here. We are talking about people who are fully trained, have put in their time and been pushing an LASD radio car since before McDonnell was a motor at LAPD.
  • McDonnell has also refused to extend Peace Officer Bill of Rights protections to reserves. Despite the fact that they do the same work as regular deputies and take the same risks, McDonnell has chosen to treat them as seventh-class citizens. He could extend POBR protection but has chosen not to.
  • LASD’s historic Reserve Forces Bureau was also recently marginalized from a Bureau to a “Detail”, losing the captain position that gave it internal credibility. Now it’s got less managerial firepower than a DUI checkpoint.
  • Its Operations Sergeant and several civilians recently retired all at once and the clerical staff have not been replaced. Now, reserves themselves are being asked (according to a May 8, 2018 email) to come in perform clerical work. Talk about a valuable program withering on the vine.
  • Seemingly the only person still hanging around Reserve Forces is the guy accused of manufacturing fake IDs for politically-connected donors!
  • As a result of RFB’s marginalization, reserves are unable to get training, including for things as basic as how to use in-car computers (MDCs) or continuing training on firearms, use of force, first aid or other basics.  This is what the reserves at my station tell me!  This as we now know desk personnel have long been unable to get training on how to handle 911 calls.
  • The Reserve recruitment website goes to an error page.
  • Ditto, the website for Reserve Forces Bureau.
  • Meanwhile, the last online issue of the reserve newsletter is from 2011.

It’s always darkest before the dawn–yet there is light at the end of this tunnel. On June 5, you (and everyone you know) will have the opportunity to elect Bob Lindsey to turn this ship around before McDonnell steers it even further into the rocks.

While we have not heard what Alex Villanueva’s position on the reserve program is, Lindsey often talks about the importance of “rebuilding” LASD’s reserve program and using its resources to better serve the community. And that’s exactly what LASD’s reserves, LASD as a whole, and the communities we serve need.