Dear Editor: Once again, we have a serious issue raising its head threatening the independence of this city. (“An Open Letter from Downey Police Officers,” 3/20/14)
Dissatisfaction with the level of municipal services provided by the county in the 1950s was a strong driver of the move to incorporation resulting in the formation of the City of Downey in 1956. That dissatisfaction was so strong that one of the first steps of the city was the formation of its own police and fire departments.
With that in mind, just what is the driving animus within the Downey Fire Department leading to this never-ending quest to dis-establish the department and to contract with the county for fire service? Has any survey of members of the Fire Department been made by an outside group where responses can be kept truly anonymous? Do we have the results of such a survey, and is it publicly posted?
If the answer to these questions are “yes,” where can this information be accessed? if the answers are “no,” why has this been ignored?
This has developed into a major problem, and without knowing and publicly discussing the basis of the problem, it is nigh on impossible to devise a rational solution that the taxpayers can afford. If such a survey has been made, did it also include members of the Downey Police Department, and if not, why not?
Over the years there have been a handful of controversies surrounding the Downey Police Department, but if you think the Sheriff’s Department is going to make your lives better, think again.
Here are some fact: the reader need only look to Wikipedia under “L.A. County Sheriff” to see the monolithic titan that would be coming our way. They have over 18,000 employees, with a budget of over $2 billion. They serve three regions and more than 42 cities. They have a jail system that houses over 200,000. And their organization has been embroiled in numerous controversies and criminal allegations.
Their powerhouse of a boss, the former Sheriff Lee Baca, had to step down from his post after an FBI investigation of sheriff’s correctional officers at their jail.
If we keep Downey PD, we have a better opportunity to hold them accountable for any lack of professionalism. They are like a small but elite corporation. As an organization, they have a statistically better reputation than that of their sheriff’s counterparts. (In fact, I encourage the Downey PD to publish their statistics so that the voters can compare actual numbers and see for themselves how the Downey PD compares to other organizations.)
The Downey PD will not please everyone. And there may be good reason for that.
While the Michael Nida shooting is unsettling regardless of the district attorney’s letter of explanation, the fact remains that the level of corruption in the sheriff’s department is a factor that cannot be ignored. We need to keep our police force in tact. We must not let the sheriff take over.
Likewise, I would suggest to the Downey PD that in these times of political wrangling if they sincerely want to keep their jobs, a new era of transparency and accountability, as well as zero tolerance for rogue cops, is their best bet.
Lastly, I would like to remind the voter how this charter came to be on the ballot in the first place: the firefighters union and their insufferable greed. In a time when so many Americans are struggling economically, firefighters are some of the highest paid professionals in the nation. As an example of this greed I would point to their use of political extortion and their willingness to sacrifice hundreds of police employees to accomplish their own ends.
Published: March 27, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 50