LACCD extends sheriff contract until June

After initially announcing that their contract with the sheriff’s department would expire at the end of the year, LACCD extended it for another six months.

By Gabriel Arizon, Editor-in-Chief

A sheriff security officer sits in his car at a check-in station in front of the Valley College Administration Building. (Photo by Solomon O. Smith/The Valley Star)

The LACCD Board of Trustees voted on Saturday to extend their contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for another six months rather than let it expire.

“There will be no change to the sheriff’s department providing security services at Valley College or any of the other LACCD locations,” said Valley President Barry Gribbons.

On Dec. 12, the Board of Trustees convened for a special meeting to discuss short-term security proposals for 2021. The board presented two options: a six-month extension with the LASD (with the option for further extensions) for an annual budget of $19.6 million, or hire unarmed private security from Allied Universal Security Services for a 12-month term with a $15 million annual budget. After much discussion, the board voted on the former.

Before the vote, the board took comments from the public to hear their thoughts, many of whom expressed apprehension of unarmed security in place of sheriffs and concerns that this new change would lead to more problems.

“Myself and our cadets will not feel safe there with an 18-year-old unarmed security officer ‘protecting’ us,” said Francoise Rosero, a senior office assistant in the sheriff’s complex at Southwest College. “With all the things that happen on campuses with armed security, imagine what’s going to happen when it's some 18-year-old kid there.”

“If this contract is allowed to expire, I am concerned about … how we will be able to reach out to students in crisis without the support of the sheriff’s department,” said Sonia Lopez, a dean of student services at East Los Angeles College. “Now is not the time to bring in a security company that is not familiar with our campus, our students or our community.”

The LACCD has had a partnership with LASD since 2001, one that was originally set to expire at the end of the year. The district’s budget for the LASD contract was $25.8 million annually, whereas the new approved proposal costs an estimated 24 percent less.

According to LACCD data as reported by LASD, there were 644 incidents in 2019 across all nine campuses; of those incidents, 465 were crimes and 60 arrests were made. As stated by Interim Deputy Chancellor Melinda Nish, the estimate of damages caused by criminal activity to the district was $562,000. Overall, the district saw a 15 percent decrease in crime from 2018 to 2019.

While the private security proposal did not pass, there were some public comments that voiced their support for it, citing problems with the sheriffs.

“What I have noticed … [is] that most of the complaints that have come forward to me regarding the sheriffs are from women or from minorities,” said Ruby Christian-Brougham, the AFT Local 1521 chapter president at Valley, “and I have tried my best to resolve those complaints and the majority of those complaints have never been resolved.”

According to Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez, the district will begin a thorough assessment of campus safety at all nine colleges beginning Jan. 1, and the process will include voices from students, faculty and administrators. The assessment will be the basis for Request for Proposals for long-term security in the district. Rodriguez expects the process to take between six to 12 months.