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Community Digest

Bell Gardens : Majority in Survey Favor Switching to Sheriff's Dept.

January 24, 1991

A majority of Bell Gardens registered voters who responded to a recent city survey said the city should contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for law enforcement services.

About 59% of the 909 residents who responded to the written survey said "yes" to a switch from the Bell Gardens Police Department to the Sheriff's Department when informed that the city could save $2 million by doing so. Slightly more than 37% said "no" and 3.6% were undecided. City Manager Claude Booker said 3,680 copies of the survey were sent out to registered voters.

Surveys also were sent to about 11,000 Bell Gardens homes in the December issue of the City Hall paper, "What's Happening." Only 86 people responded to the "What's Happening" survey. Of those, 70 people said they did not favor a switch.

In both surveys, residents also were asked how the city should spend the $2 million savings if the switch were made. The top answers were more police patrol, more gang suppression and more drug enforcement.

Booker said the survey was part of an evaluation of the Police Department. A similar survey was conducted in 1987 with much the same results, but he said the results do not mean that the Police Department is in danger of being eliminated.

"One of the largest sacred cows in a city is the police department," he said. "It is a much more emotional issue, and cost is much less a factor."

Results of the survey will be presented to the City Council at its Jan. 28 meeting.

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