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Sheriff's Station Closed in Time of Need

April 29, 1993|ANDREW LePAGE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

SAN DIMAS — If the San Dimas City Council needed any more evidence this week that it should look at new law enforcement options, it got the goods just a few days ago.

A woman sped away from would-be carjackers at a red light in San Dimas early this week, going, as experts advise, to the sheriff's station there--but found it closed.

"I don't blame the city for what happened, but it nearly cost me my life," said the woman, 37-year-old Tina Kirschbaum, in an interview. She had attended Tuesday's council meeting to tell her story.

The council, already scheduled to discuss alternatives to contracting with the Sheriff's Department for patrol service at its regular meeting Tuesday night, appointed two council members to discuss with La Verne officials a contracting arrangement with that city's police department.

Sheriff's officials have told the city that the county budget cuts they anticipate for the next fiscal year will likely result in the total closure of the San Dimas station.

Today, San Dimas pays about $3.5 million a year for sheriff's patrol services. But that does not include the San Dimas sheriff's station, which, coincidentally, is located in the city and is closed from 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. If that facility were closed altogether, the nearest station would be about 12 miles away in Walnut. The La Verne police station, staffed at all times, is about three miles away.

Kirschbaum's close call with the would-be carjackers illustrates that San Dimas cannot do without a nearby police station, nor should it lack one that is open around the clock, according to Mayor Terry Dipple.

"It shows the great potential for tragedy if that station is not open to the public 24 hours," Dipple said. "The city has always felt that was imperative and we've protested vehemently with the county and the Sheriff's Department to keep that station open 24 hours."

Kirschbaum, who grew up in San Dimas but now resides in Lake Tahoe, is visiting her mother. She said she was waiting at a red light near San Dimas Community Hospital at 1 a.m. Sunday when two teen-agers--one brandishing a handgun--demanded she give them her gold Camaro.

"One of them slammed the gun against my window, and my first reaction was to put my foot on the accelerator," she said. "I headed for the sheriff's station."

However, when Kirschbaum got to the sheriff's station, she found the doors locked. The teen-agers hadn't followed her and she was able to speak with a dispatcher by picking up a telephone at the station's entrance. A patrol car arrived several minutes later.

Kirschbaum attended the San Dimas council's Tuesday meeting to encourage the city to find a way to keep the sheriff's station open 24 hours a day. Because of county budget cutbacks, the Sheriff's Department began in early January to close the station between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.

Dipple said that, in a letter to the city, La Verne officials have said they could provide San Dimas with the same level of police protection for about what San Dimas now pays for sheriff's patrol service. The advantage, he said, would be having a police station only a few miles away.

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