The City of West Hollywood responded to accusations made by the City of Compton alleging “rampant” fraud by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, claiming the agency routinely charges for patrol work that is not being done.
The Los Angeles Times reports allegations were made today, Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in a legal claim filed with the county, which is a precursor to a lawsuit. Compton attorneys say the alleged deception has led to “major understaffing” and “a lack of responsiveness” to calls for service in the city. Compton pays the Sheriff’s Department more than $22 million a year to police the city, and in exchange sheriff’s deputies are obligated to spend a certain amount of time each month patrolling Compton’s streets.
The TIMES reports that Jamon Hicks, an attorney representing the City of Compton is accusing deputies of saying they’re at locations when they are not, and that deputies are falsely saying they’re patrolling the streets that they are not.
The fraud allegations surfaced earlier this year when a lawyer representing an anonymous deputy assigned to the Sheriff’s Compton station contacted city officials.
According to the report, West Hollywood, which has contracted with the Sheriff’s Department since the city was incorporated in 1984, pays the agency roughly $20 million a year for law enforcement services.
A deputy told The Times that while working at the West Hollywood station, he was asked to fabricate records to show a deputy who was stuck at home because of an injury was out in a patrol car to “burn” minutes.
“I refused,” said a deputy during an interview. The Times states that the deputy asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation. “That’s straight-up fraud. It’s so rampant that it became the norm. At the end of the day, we know it’s stealing, and I’m not a thief.”
A statement posted on West Hollywood’s official website www.weho.org, reads as follows:
“The City of West Hollywood is aware of serious allegations from the City of Compton, California, against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva in a Claim for Damages announced today by Compton City leaders.
In its Claim for Damages, the City of Compton alleges that the Los Angeles County Sheriff overbilled its city for Sheriff’s personnel time. A news article today additionally reported a Sheriff’s Deputy’s allegation in a media interview that, while working at the West Hollywood Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, he was asked to fabricate records.
The City of West Hollywood has a regular monthly internal review process for its public safety billing in coordination with its local station’s leadership. This review process ensures checks and balances and serves to monitor how the City is billed for Sheriff’s personnel time. The City of West Hollywood looks to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and to Supervisor Sheila Kuehl for a full and transparent process regarding billing discrepancies and misappropriations alleged in the Claim for Damages.
The City Council of the City of West Hollywood will, at its next regular meeting on June 7, 2021, consider adopting a Resolution calling on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Inspector General to work with the California Contract Cities Association to audit the billing with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for all contract cities.
The City of West Hollywood refers all press inquiries to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Headquarters at (323) 526-5541.”
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the department is conducting a thorough audit during a news conference today.