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.
- Though that’s better than LASD’s own newsletter, which appears to have been taken offline entirely…
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.