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Audit Shows Sheriff's Response Time Longer In Unincorporated Areas

LOS ANGELES ( — An audit revealed that it takes Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies longer to respond to emergencies in unincorporated areas compared to contract cities.

It took deputies, on average, 5.8 minutes to respond to calls in unincorporated neighborhoods compared to 4.8 minutes in cities that contract with the department, according to the audit.

The findings come a week after Supervisor Gloria Molina accused Sheriff Lee Baca of stealing from residents in unincorporated areas.

"The audit finally confirmed what our suspicions have always been, which is we have been shortchanged in unincorporated areas," said Molina.

Sheriff's officials said the difference in response time was partly because budget cuts forced the department to decrease patrols in unincorporated areas.

Molina said Baca never told the Board of Supervisors that deputies were being cut.

"When you take away police services from any neighborhood, people feel very strongly that they are being shortchanged. I think the sheriff owes a duty and responsibility to those residents, as well," she said.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said, "You cannot tell me that the first place the department has to cut when they are overspending their budget is patrols. It just doesn't make sense."

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said Baca is in the process of taking 22 members of his Gang Enforcement Team and moving them back into patrol to help cover the gaps.

"He's also currently examining 90-plus other deputy sheriff's that can be taken off desk jobs, that are administrative positions, and move them back into patrol," he said.

Molina said, "I don't think that it's enough."

About 2 million people live in contract cities and 1 million live in unincorporated parts of LA County.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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