NORWALK — A little more than a week after threatening to form the city's own police department, City Council members have decided--at least for the present--to stick with protection provided by the Norwalk sheriff's station.
Both sides apparently have patched up their differences to the point that the council is now weighing a $370,000 increase for the sheriff station's annual budget.
The requested increase for the 1985-86 fiscal year--a 14% jump in the local department's current $3.6-million budget--would pay for an additional four deputies, a detective and a new patrol car, as well as extra weekend patrols, said Capt. Lee Baca, sheriff's station commander.
Two weeks ago, council members had complained publicly about the quality of the sheriff's services and had requested a study that would determine if the city would be better off forming its own police department.
But after a two-hour session with top sheriff's administrators April 13, city officials agreed to postpone the study and give the station time to improve services as well as communication with city officials.
After meeting with Baca and Undersheriff Ted vonMinden, new Mayor Marcial (Rod) Rodriguez said, "As far as a study is concerned, it is on the back burner but not forgotten."
Time for Improvement
Mayor Pro Tem Lou Banas, who took office with Rodriguez on Monday, said he would give the department six to nine months to improve, during which time "we (council members) are going to be watching them closely."
"If there isn't an improvement, then it will be time for a study," Banas said.
At the meeting between city officials and sheriff's administrators, council members complained about a lack of communication with department administrators, a need for more patrols and a lack of response by the station on some calls for help.
Afterward, Baca and Rodriguez agreed to meet weekly to consider hiring more deputies and to work together to improve police services.
"A sense of mutual sharing and understanding occurred" after Saturday's meeting, Baca said.
"We all agreed that there are certain things that have to be done to correct the problems that we've got," said Rodriguez, who added that he was willing to pay for more law enforcement protection.
The $370,000 increase requested by Baca will be voted on next month, when City Council members begin drawing up the 1985-86 budget. The department also has requested a cost-of-living increase of $130,000, for a total increase of $500,000. The sheriff's contract is currently $3.6 million.
The cost-of-living increase would include a 7% raise for deputies, which would boost the current top-of-scale salary from $32,000 to $34,240.
The local sheriff's station--which patrols the cities of Norwalk, La Mirada, Santa Fe Springs and an unincorporated area adjacent to Whittier, has 228 deputies. About 48 of those deputies patrol Norwalk on a daily basis, according to the sheriff's department.
Complaints by council members came after a wave of vandalism this month that included tire slashings of 31 cars at the Ramada Inn on Firestone Boulevard and tire slashings in a residential neighborhood adjacent to the Ramada.
Early Tuesday morning, deputies arrested two persons in a house across the street from the Ramada that deputies allege was a neighborhood PCP warehouse. Deputies said that the presence of the house may have been responsible for an increase in vandalism in the area.
Baca said that the PCP warehouse was the first of its kind discovered in the city and that local residents usually get the drug from dealers in South Central Los Angeles.
Shortly after midnight, two deputies who were on Sproul Street to take a crime report of a recent burglary reported they smelled a strong chemical odor. The odor was traced to a house on 12402 Sproul that had bars on the windows and dead-bolt locks on the doors, police said.
Search Warrant Obtained
Two persons seen in the garage were asked to come out but refused, police said. The house was surrounded by 15 deputies, who, after obtaining a search warrant, found 25 32-ounce Listerine bottles and a gallon jug. Deputy Robert Lowery, who made the arrests, said the jug and bottles contained small amounts of PCP.
Arrested were Loriell Anderson, 44, and Carl Shannon, 30, both of 12402 Sproul St. The two were arrested on suspicion of possession for sale of PCP and held at the Norwalk sheriff's jail on $5,000 bail each.
Deputies say that the two dumped gallons of PCP down drains and toilets before they were arrested.