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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Local Review

Residents Protest Proposal to Disband Compton Police

May 17, 2000

COMPTON — About 200 Compton residents, angry about a proposal to disband the city's Police Department and turn law enforcement over to the county Sheriff's Department, marched through town Tuesday night to demand a citywide vote on the issue in November.

"Let the people decide," said protest organizer Lorraine Cervantes, an ardent critic of the council's decision last month to pursue a contract with the sheriff. The proposed contract is under study for a possible City Council vote this summer.

Father Stan Bosch, a priest at Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church, also attended the rally.

"Our sole motivation in marching tonight is to awaken in the people the knowledge that they can fight for justice," he said.

Council members said they favor the move--which would make Compton the 41st city in the county to contract with the Sheriff's Department--because the city needs the extra police services the county can provide to fight crime.

The contract would cost Compton $12 million, significantly less than the $20 million the city now spends on its own department.

But police union officials, who joined the protest, charged that the contract plan is fueled by Mayor Omar Bradley's desire to retaliate against police officers who were involved in a recall campaign against him, said Ed Aguirre, president of the Compton Police Officer's Union.

At the City Council meeting, the subject of the protest shifted to include complaints by Latino residents that they are not included in city government, and that this decision is another example.

Sheriff's officials say they have entered into the talks without regard to potential financial or political issues.

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