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L.A. County Sheriff's Department might be booted out of Compton

June 1, 2010 |  4:33 pm

The Compton City Council is voting on a controversial resolution Tuesday night that would reestablish the city’s police department, a decade after the beleaguered force was disbanded in favor of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. Opponents say the resolution has been rushed by the city’s elected officials.

Residents have expressed concerns that a local police department would not be able to match the services provided by the sheriff, which includes access to homicide and narcotics units and a fleet of helicopters.

They point to the high rate of violent crime during the final years of the old Compton police department, particularly the department’s last two weeks, when eight people were killed. Violent crime, though still high, has decreased during the sheriff’s decade-long tenure.

There were 55 murders in 1999, when Compton police were in charge, compared with 37 last year. But city leaders say a local police department would return jobs to the city and a sense of ownership.

Council members have hosted town hall meetings across the city in recent weeks presenting the idea to residents.

A citizens commission took a fact-finding trip to Citrus Heights, a comparably sized city near Sacramento that recently formed its own local police department, and reported back favorably. Though not committing to support the switchover, the mayor and the City Council have expressed support for reclaiming control of local law enforcement.

"The Compton Police Department had a heart for the people because they were the people," Councilwoman Yvonne Arceneaux said during a recent interview.

-- Robert Faturechi