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Cost of sending more than 300 L.A. deputies to Obama inauguration raises ire

December 9, 2008 |  1:21 pm

Bacasmall_2 What's a cross-country plane trip to help out a friend?

If you're the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, county officials said today, it's an estimated $1.6-million proposition. Police in Washington have asked for more than 340 L.A. County sheriff's deputies to make the trip East to assist them during next month's inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

The plan to send deputies has irritated Los Angeles County supervisors, who have questioned why the police in D.C. haven't turned to departments closer to home. They are also raising concerns about exactly how much of the out-of-pocket expenses and salary will be reimbursed. A report presented today at the Board of Supervisors meeting estimated that only about $630,000 of the cost would be recouped.

"The L.A. County taxpayers never voted on donating $1 million in police to the president-elect’s inauguration,” said Joel Bellman, spokesman for Supervisor Zev Yarovslavsky.

Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said today that although D.C. police have requested hundreds of deputies, they so far have offered to pay for only 40. Whitmore said sheriff's officials are in negotiations with D.C. police and inaugural committee officials and have let them know that deputies will be made available only if the department is repaid.

He said the sheriff is willing to spend about $81,000 on cold-weather gear that would be needed by those making the trip, because it can be used during winter by deputies working in cold areas of the county.

--Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Richard Winton

Hennessy-Fiske and Winton will have a full report on this story soon.