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Westside Digest

Santa Monica : City Workers to Aid Police

January 26, 1989

Police powers will be granted to numerous city employees as a way to step up enforcement of local laws.

The City Council late Tuesday gave unanimous preliminary approval to an ordinance that allows 18 categories of employees--primarily building and sanitation inspectors--to write citations for misdemeanors.

The employee would have to see the misdemeanor being committed, and the violated law would have to be under the employee's jurisdiction. A building inspector, for example, could write tickets for violations of city building codes; animal control officers could write tickets for violations of animal regulations.

The measure is designed to make it easier to stop lawbreakers more quickly and to relieve busy police officers of nuisance violations, such as too much noise on construction sites.

City Atty. Robert M. Myers emphasized that the employees granted the new powers will be writing tickets and not making physical arrests. They will be trained to avoid hostile confrontations, and all must receive certification from the Police Department.

"They will not be trained in the art of making physical arrests," Myers said. "They will be trained in the art of retreat."

The only public objection to the law came from landlord attorney Tom Nitti, who said he feared the city was creating a "private police force."

The law will come up for a second vote in February.

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