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Metro Board Delays Transit Policing Contract For Three Months

5:07 PM PST on December 1, 2016

Seated in the front row at today’s Metro board meeting are LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, and LBPD Chief Robert Luna. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Seated in the front row are LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, LA County Sheriff Jim xxx
Seated in the front row at today's Metro board meeting are LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, and LBPD Chief Robert Luna. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

At the end of today's nearly 6-hour Metro board of directors meeting, the vote on the staff-recommended $547 million multi-agency transit policing contract was pushed back three months. Metro's new transit policing arrangement would scale back the L.A. County Sheriffs Department's current role in favor of a majority of the work being done by LAPD, with a small slice also going to Long Beach PD.

The vote broke down mostly along city-county lines. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, alongside his appointees Jacquelyn Dupont Walker and Mike Bonin, urged for approval today. County Supervisors Don Knabe and Sheila Kuehl led the charge for a delay. They were joined by directors John Fasana, Ara Najarian, Diane DuBois, James Butts, and Garcetti-appointee Paul Krekorian. Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis were not present for the vote.

Outgoing County Supervisor Mike Antonovich voted against the delay. Antonovich also introduced a motion to retain LASD policing of Union Station.

Director James Butts, the current Mayor of Inglewood and the only boardmember with extensive law enforcement experience including as the former chief of Santa Monica's Police Department, questioned the accountability model in the proposed contracts. Alex Wiggins, Metro's Executive Officer for System Security and Law Enforcement, tried to reassure that the new contract includes "only paying for services received" and thus is an improvement over Metro's past LASD contracts. Butts still pushed for stricter contract accountability.

Testimony included the heads of the three law enforcement agencies under consideration: L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, and LBPD Chief Robert Luna. LAPD and LBPD are understandably eager for the new arrangements which would contract for their services. LASD is understandably reluctant toward a policing contract that would diminish their role.

With LASD and LAPD essentially facing off over their respective slice of the pie, it is unclear what new and different compromise might emerge by February. What will be different in February is the presence of two supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn, who replace Antonovich and Knabe respectively.

Other Metro board actions today included:

Metro CEO Phil Washington also announced a planned stakeholder advisory committee to draft Measure M spending guidelines, expected in early 2017.

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