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Cudahy to contract with the Sheriff’s Department

June 25, 2010 |  5:52 pm

In an emergency meeting Thursday night, Cudahy city leaders agreed to contract for police services with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

For almost seven years, Maywood police have patrolled Cudahy, a 1-square-mile city with a population of about 25,000. But on July 1, Maywood's police agency will be no more: That city's leaders approved a plan this week to dismantle the department and contract law enforcement and other services with the city of Bell.

"We could have saved them from this if they had approved the police contract," Cudahy City Manager George Perez said of Maywood's decision. "None of this had to happen. It's sad."

Last summer, Maywood officials were put on notice that the city would lose its insurance coverage unless it met a list of conditions, which included hiring a city manager and renewing a renegotiated police contract with Cudahy.

The contract, approved in December 2004, became one of the most disputed topics at many of Maywood's City Council meetings after an outside audit showed that Cudahy was not being billed for some services, such as administrative, vehicle maintenance and insurance. The firm concluded that Maywood was losing about $620,000 a year, or a total of about $4 million over the last six years.

The Maywood council ordered then-interim City Manager Paul Philips to negotiate the contract. Perez said he and Philips would come to an agreement, but the Maywood council would send Philips back to continue negotiating.

"They left us hanging," Perez said. "We strongly felt, with their financial woes, that they were trying to make up everything they felt they had lost with this contract."

In late May, after repeated warnings, the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority notified Maywood officials that the city's insurance would be canceled by June 30. Since then, Maywood leaders have been unable to obtain coverage either because municipal insurance agencies consider the embattled city too high a risk or the costs are too high for the city to pay.

As a result, the city will disband its Police Department and contract its city services with Bell. A total of 100 people will lose their jobs.

Deputies from the Sheriff Department's East Los Angeles station will begin patrolling the area July 1, Perez said.

This is not the first time Cudahy has contracted with the Sheriff's Department. The last contract ended in September 2003 over such issues as costs and response time, Perez said.

Cudahy is one of the smallest cities in Los Angeles County. Bordered by Bell on the north, South Gate on the south, the Los Angeles River on the east and Huntington Park on the west, Cudahy is made up mostly of Latino immigrants.

-- Ruben Vives