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West Hollywood votes to reduce number of deputies; adds more private security

West Hollywood votes to replace several deputies with private security
West Hollywood votes to replace several deputies with private security 03:05

West Hollywood passed a proposal to slash its funding for deputies and to instead bolster its law enforcement with unarmed security ambassadors amid a spike in crime. 

"They're able to de-escalate situations without any violence, without any issues," said West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tem Shepi Shyne, who submitted the proposal. "This works. It's proven successful."

Shyne's proposal, which passed with a 3-2 vote, will reallocate funds for five deputies and replace them with 30 unarmed security ambassadors. The change came as a surprise to Mayor Lauren Meister, especially after the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department released a report in April comparing crime rates between 2021 and 2022.

"Sheriff's have one role and unarmed security ambassadors have another role," she said. "The truth of the matter is if there is a criminal they cannot arrest a criminal... They're unarmed so they can't even defend themselves and they just don't replace deputies.

According to the LASD report, crime rose 137% in February 2022 compared to last year. 

With safety still a priority, Shyne said that the "Block by Block" program has helped lower crime and has been part of the city's law enforcement since 2013. 

"This is how we reimagine public safety," she said. 

The proposal will gradually reduce the department's footprint in the city by removing two deputies in six months and then the three more by next year. 

"They should be increasing funding, having people in every corner is great but why not have more police as well?" said resident Tom Zarega. 

Sheriff Alex Villanueva objected to the move and also thanked residents who opposed the vote. 

"They want to experiment with your public safety," he said during his weekly Facebook Live address. "They might want to start reimagining another line of work than being elected officials if they're not going to represent the wishes of their own constituents."

The City Council will reevaluate the decision in nine months. If the project is successful, supporters said that could result in further cutbacks.

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