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Bell police angry at a possible elimination of department; residents say proposal is premature

Members of Bell's police union said the proposal to disband the police force to help stave off bankruptcy is "a slap in the face" to officers.

That proposal is one of a number of options on the table tonight as the City Council considers drastic ways to help close a nearly $5 million shortfall that threatens to push the city into insolvency.

Kurt Owens, vice president of the Bell Police Officers Assn., said officers are angry and dismayed and that disbanding the police force and contracting with the Sheriff's Department is "against everything" that Pedro Carrillo, the city's interim chief administrative officer, told police officers in informal discussions.

"We're just flabbergasted and surprised," he said.

City Council candidate Nestor Valencia, founder of the Bell Resident Club, said these major decisions should be made after the March election and recall, when a new council is seated.

Valencia said the city is making agreements that will bind the new leadership. "Certainly this stuff can wait," Valencia said. "They're going to crunch everything into one meeting. That's real dangerous."

Carrillo did not immediately return a phone call Thursday.

Cristina Garcia, a leader of the activist group BASTA, agreed with Valencia that the decision whether to disband the Police Department should be made by the new council.

Although Garcia agreed that action to balance the budget must take place soon, she suggested creating a commission to study the issue so the new council can move forward quickly.

Several people also alleged that the city had violated the state's open meeting law by not posting the agenda in a public place the required 72 hours before the council meeting begins. The Brown Act requires that a hard copy of the agenda be available. The city is not required to post it on its website, said Terry Francke, general counsel of the nonprofit Californians Aware and an open-government advocate

The agenda was posted outside City Hall at about 3 p.m. Wednesday when a Times reporter stopped by, but Owens said officers did not see it when they checked as late as 9:30 p.m.

On Wednesday afternoon, Carrillo said the city "had a glitch" and that the hard copy was available and the city was working on getting it online. The agenda and about 300 pages of supporting documents were e-mailed to The Times at 5:25 p.m.

Garcia said the agenda and supporting documents were posted on the city's website about 10 p.m.

Many residents have also been highly critical of Carrillo because he worked for the city under former Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo, who has been charged with corruption along with seven other current and former city officials.

The tardiness in posting the agenda has led them to compare him to Rizzo, who was less-than-forthcoming about his salary, city finances and other issues in Bell.

"For too long Rizzo and his people did what they wanted with no warning or community input," Garcia said. "How is this decision the council might take today any different? We are just now finding out about this item on the agenda. Bell residents when informed can make decisions for themselves. But the current administration has done nothing to discuss with the community what these options mean."

RELATED:

State Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris still mulling future of Bell prosecution

Bell mayor loses bid to have city pick up his legal costs to fight fraud charges

Cash-strapped Bell to consider disbanding police department, cutting salaries and benefits

-- Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives

Photo: Pedro Carrillo in October 2010. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (13)

Who cares what a union says??? If firing the cops and closing the pd helps BELL then DO IT!!!!

What? Lay off the scumbags who helped the city council stay in office?

The police force should have stood up for the people, and protected them from the politicians who were intent to use the police force as it's own ticket and tow piggy bank.

I have no sympathy for any of them. When one of their own tried to stand up and do something, the rest of them shut him out and continued covering for the council and Rizzo.

These options, meaning the disbanding of the Bell Police, mean that the city could save a substantial amount of money, over two million dollars. Whether or not the officers would be absorbed by the Sheriff's department would most likely be on a case by case basis, which is the reason for the "outrage" among the Bell POA.

Yet it wasn't a "slap in the face" to those who had their cars towed or ticketed by these same police to meet the financial demands of the city?

I am afraid it is not a slap in the face to the police, small cities cannot afford the cost. There are two choices, the L.A. County Sheriff of band together with other smaller neighboring cities to eliminate the redundent overhead applicable to all small cities. The free ride is over.

This is hilarious. Not only does the Bell PD need to be disbanded due to the budget, but they DESERVE to be disbanded for being Rizzo's personal collection agency.

Here it is Bell PD, you are not actually a PD, but a collection agency with the goal of collecting as much revenue as possible thru tickets, towing, and god knows what else.

Now step aside, let real police go into Bell to do the job police are suppose to do.

What a joke!

I'm tired of the cops playing victims.

You know what's a slap in the face, Officer Owens? Nearly $3million in towing. That's a slap in the face.

You know what's a slap in the face, Officer Owens? You're buddies in blue intefering in elections! That's a slap in the face - and a slap in the face of democracy.

You know what's a slap in the face, Officer Owens? All the officers who put their head in the sand or turned away while you're buddies were electioneering?

You know what's a slap in the face, Officer Owens? You're colleague violating the civil rights of Jane Doe.

You know what's a slap in the face, Officer Owens? You're giving special privileges to Pete Werrlein and his main man and your buddy in blue, Darryl Roth?

You know what's a slap in the face, Officer Owens? You calling Henshaw a bad apple, but not calling out Miranda for taking loans from Rizzo.

You know what's a slap in the face, the lawsuits you've filed against the City of Bell.

City police make big mistakes of judgment...
its time to dismantle the bell police department.

This goes way beyond disbanding the police department. The entire city should be dis-incorporated because the people that want to control the city now, are absolutely no better that the ones that are getting the boot. This is all about a bunch of small town political want-a-be's in a power grab situation.

Its funny how everyone comments on bell police but those same people either don't live in bell to.know how much crime there is or either is the lowest form of life on this earth and criticize te policr for any stupid reason ...THE TRUTH IS WE NEED BELL PD NOT SHERIFFS (JUST LOOK HOW BAD THINGS GOT IN MAYWOOD AND CUDAHY ONCE THEY.TOOK OVER) and for the people that got their cars towed, I can bet they were not drivers safe and sound and had their cars towed for nothing (half of them had hit and run people because they had no insurance )


People we need public safety more than ever now in bell not disband it!!

get rid of the police dept
they are crooked and a waste of my money

I say keep the PD, and dismantle the city. Pretty ghetto!


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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.
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