District could pay up to $29 million for Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department contract

The district board members differ in their views on the monetary amount that could be given to the department, should the LACCD continue their decades-long partnership.

By Cassandra Nava, Editor-in-Chief

Campus police officers patrol in a squad car on campus grounds. The district’s contract with the sheriff’s department is currently under negotiations, but can cost up to $29 million. (Photo by Griffin O'Rourke/The Valley Star)

The LACCD resumed discussion regarding the fate of its contract with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, which may cost the district more than $29 million for safety and security services at all nine campuses.

In last week’s district Board of Trustees meeting, members authorized a motion to negotiate the price of the contract. The LASD stated that the contract outlined by the district will cost $29,232,779. The district can negotiate a lower price for the contract, which would cut some services.

In November 2020, the LACCD announced that they would end the now 21-year-old contract with the LASD. As previously reported by the Star, the district stressed a focus on unarmed security, with an emphasis on de-escalation training, following a district-wide police reform panel.

However, rather than let the contract expire with no alternative in place, the district extended it, which gave LACCD time to work on a new proposal, a detailed report of security demands made available to police departments and private security companies. The proposal was set to take about a year to complete, leaving the sheriff’s department as the default security system for the nine colleges.

If unable to reach an agreement with the sheriff’s department, the district will select the next bidder. According to Board Member Steven Veres, the next immediate bidder is Allied Universal Security Services, which the district considered hiring in December 2020 before extending the LASD contract.

“The sheriff’s department understands what our expectations are related to the work that we’re expecting,” said Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez in the board meeting. “It’s not the same contract or scope of work that we have seen in the last 20 years.”

The LACCD’s proposal lists 57 requests including, “flexibility to provide armed and unarmed security officer services,” “the ability to provide services to a diverse population” and “body worn camera capability for security officers.”

The basis of the proposal came from a safety assessment conducted by Hillard Heintze, a security risk management firm. A district-wide, student-only Zoom meeting was held last May, where students from the nine colleges spoke about their concerns with campus police, following a tense year of calls for national police reform. According to the Hillard Heintze assessment, “over 76 percent of respondents listed their preferred security services provider as LASD over other options.”

Trustee Andra Hoffman stated that the sheriff’s contract cost about $18 million when she first joined the board in 2015. Hoffman aired her grievances with the amount the district could potentially spend.

“I think that’s absurdly high,” said Hoffman in the board meeting. “I don’t think I would be prepared to approve a contract that’s $29 million. I understand that some of these things built into the contract, that are important to us, cost money. I don’t know if there’s a way we can really take a look and figure out what things we are willing to scale back on.”

Student Trustee Coraima Martinez shared her thoughts in reference to the price as well, stating that she feels a “disconnect” with the cost, given that there are fewer students on campus due to COVID-19.

The LACCD chancellor and administrative team will negotiate the contract with the LASD and bring it back to the board for approval.

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