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Sheriff slashes number of deputies going to Obama inauguration

December 16, 2008 |  1:30 pm

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies will be on hand to police President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration -- although in much smaller numbers than initially hoped.

The county's Board of Supervisors narrowly voted today to send 112 sheriff's deputies to carry out crowd control and other duties during the inauguration ceremony and related festivities. The District of Columbia Police Department requested 500 deputies.

The decision to send 112 deputies followed more than a week of controversy as Supervisors Mike Antonovich, Don Knabe and Zev Yaroslavsky complained that the trip would unfairly deprive county residents of law enforcement protection and cause unnecessary expense to local taxpayers.

Knabe brokered the compromise of 112 with the assurance that the trip would be fully reimbursed by Washington's police department. Supervisors Antonovich and Gloria Molina joined him in support of the deal. Yaroslavsky opposed sending any deputies at all, and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas abstained after failing to gain support for his compromise proposal to send 250 deputies.

"I think that we could and should have done better than this," Ridley-Thomas said. "We will be making many requests of the Obama administration, and it is important to get off on the right foot. ... We need to be smart about change."

Still, Los Angeles County will be one of the largest outside contingents in Washington. Ninety-six agencies are sending 4,000 officers for inauguration events, according to a District of Columbia police spokeswoman. The city of Los Angeles will be sending no officers after the LAPD decided the trip would be a "logistical nightmare," according to county Undersheriff Larry Waldie.

-- Garrett Therolf