Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

O.C. Sheriff's Department grilled over sending 6 officials to help with Jackson funeral

Turns out it's not just Los Angeles officials who are dealing with the fallout from the Michael Jackson memorial. Orange County Sheriff's Department officials were also criticized on various local blogs for attending the pop star's funeral last week.

Six sheriff's officials attended the funeral to provide mutual aid and to observe planning and operations, according to an after-action report. At Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Chris Norby said the incident did not seem to fit his understanding of mutual aid.

"Being the neighbor to the entertainment capital of the world, these mutual aid agreements have to be two ways, and if they expect help in future high profile celebrity funerals, I think we have going to have to take them on a case by case basis, and realize that in the case of this one, the need was not there,” he said.

Sheriff's spokesman John McDonald said mutual aid is not limited to natural disasters and was defined by the state. "Mutual aid is the voluntary sharing of personnel and resources when an agency cannot deploy, sufficiently, its own resources to respond to an unusual occurrence," he said.

Following the funeral, County Executive Officer Tom Mauk requested the after-action report and information on the Sheriff Department’s costs. Sheriff Sandra Hutchens responded with an eight-page report and summary from the six department officials at the event -- all of whom were on duty and were not paid overtime. "These personnel were assigned at my direction and in support of our mutual aid responsibility," she wrote in her cover letter to Mauk.

According to the report, the Orange County Sheriff's Department was contacted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Emergency Operations Bureau on July 2 to request mutual aid for the event. In addition to those who attended, 80 officers and 20 supervisors were on standby to be deployed to the region, said Sheriff's Lt. Mike Betzler.

At Tuesday's meeting, the supervisors grilled Betzler about the event, which was the largest regional law enforcement deployment (3,400 LAPD officers) for an event since the 1984 Olympics. But in the end, it was Mauk who came to the Sheriff's Department rescue.

"I'm a little troubled by the comments," he said. "The mutual aid system that [Betzler] is referring to is a vital part of regional law enforcement throughout all of California, and the way we will be paid is that when we have an event they'll be down here and without compensation. And it's very important, I think, for the county to have a presence there both to learn, and to have a presence for mutual aid…. The payback is when we need them they'll be here."

Los Angeles County Sheriff's officials were deployed to help out in Orange County during last year's Freeway Complex fire. 

--Tami Abdollah

Comments () | Archives (3)

When did we loose a concept of helping out fellow Americans and working as a community?

Law enforcement specifically should exhibit these behaviors, even if the politicians are unable too by their nature.

I was there and it was definitley a grandiose over deployed lovefest of cops and occasional Nation of Islam "men in suits with bow ties."

If law enforcement hadn't been prepared for the worst AND hadn't been on media 24/7 to deter people from showing up if they didn't have tickets, there likely would have been riots like at the Lakers a week earlier -- and llook how bad things got at the previous Lakers win and May Day Mellee, etc.

It's prudent to plan for troublemakers at any event where they have a chance to provoke cops and maybe file some lawsuits. Even one or two big lawsuts, never mind the class action ones ambulance chasing lawyers always find excuses for, would have far exceeded anything spent on law enforcement to prevent it. That's TOO easy to forget by those involved in finger-pointing. I DO think other law enforcement should pitch in and help LA and LAPD. This was a regional event.


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.


Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: