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Why LA Sheriff Villanueva Is Closing Patrol Stations And Bureaus

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L.A. Sheriff Alex Villanueva is closing the Altadena and Marina del Rey patrol stations and making other cuts totaling nearly $200 million, saying the County Board of Supervisors is shortchanging his department.

The La Cañada station will take over patrolling the area covered by the Altadena station, and the South L.A. station will cover for the Marina del Rey station, the sheriff said at his Monday briefing.

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Altadena and Marina del Rey are two of 23 patrol stations; they tend to be less busy than the others. Closing them will save more than $12 million a year, Villanueva said.

The sheriff is also closing the Parks Bureau, the Community Partnership Bureau, and specialized detective units that focus on sexual assaults, gangs, major crimes and cybercrimes.

No one will be out of a job, he said, adding that affected deputies and civilian staff will be transferred to other parts of the department. He said the closures will reduce administrative costs, but didn't provide further details on how savings will be achieved.

The Community Partnership Bureau works with residents to identify crime trends and quality of life crimes. Shutting it down will save $30 million a year, Villanueva said.

The Parks Bureau has roughly 200 employees, including about 100 deputies who patrol nearly 200 county parks, trails and golf courses. The sheriff said its closure will save $32 million a year.

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Shutting down the four specialized detective units will save a total of nearly $98 million a year, he said.

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Villanueva had asked the County Board of Supervisors for $3.9 billion for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Last week the Board approved $3.5 billion, saying the sheriff ran up deficits his first two years in office. In addition, the county is expected to see a $1 billion drop in sales tax revenue because of the coronavirus.

Supervisors suggested the sheriff reduce the number of training academy classes from 12 to four to address his shortfall. But expanding the department is one of Villanueva's priorities and he said he'll continue to operate eight classes, which would generate savings of nearly $22 million a year.

During his briefing Monday, Villanueva projected images of the supervisors' faces along with their office phone numbers onto a screen, and urged the public to call them to complain about the cuts.

Overtime spending is one of the main drivers of the sheriff's deficit. He has insisted the county simply give him more money.

Last week the supervisors unfroze $83 million of $143 million in Sheriff's Department funds they had frozen last fall over his deficits, saying the money was for capital expenses and "unforeseen" coronavirus-related costs.

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The sheriff had wanted the Board to release all the money. In addition, the supervisors ordered a freeze on promotions in the department.

UPDATES:

May 6, 2:30 p.m.: This article was updated to correct the number of patrol stations before the closures of the Altadena and Marina del Rey stations. We regret the error.