Mammoth Police Officers Association lays out serious impacts of proposed cuts


The Mammoth Lakes Police Officers Association (MLPOA) would like to thank the residents, business owners, visitors, and part-time residents of Mammoth Lakes who have been supportive of us for the past twenty-six years. We would also like to express our sincere thank you for your support over the past couple of weeks during these trying times.

The MLPOA is very concerned about the decisions of the Town Council.  We are concerned for your safety and ours if the Town follows through with its plan to lay-off 7 of the 17 sworn officers and eliminate 2 of the 3 field supervisors.  The Town Council’s plan also eliminates the Police Lieutenant position.  This plan will result in a 46% reduction in sworn personnel from 17 to 10. It is apparent that the Town Council would like to have the Mammoth Lakes Police Department be responsible for more than half their annual payment on the lawsuit they lost at the rate of $2 million a year.  Currently the budget for the MLPD is $4,820,415, which represents 27%of the general fund budget.  The Town’s proposed cuts to MLPD would equal 56% of the annual payment this year, 58% next year and 64% the following year.

Some have concluded that Mammoth Lakes doesn’t need so many police officers, and that it’s a nice quiet town with little crime.  Don’t be fooled by not knowing what you don’t know.  The Mammoth Lakes Police Department handles hundreds of felony assaults, rapes, robberies, domestic violence, and burglaries.   In 2011 alone, the department handled 7,422 incidents which required police action; of the 7,422 incidents, 3,154 of them were radio calls. Thanks to our dedicated, skilled, and competent police force we are able to solve many of these crimes. It is only due to current staffing levels that MLPD can handle these crimes and incidents in a timely manner in which perpetrators are arrested.  Such will not be the case with the proposed lay-offs.   Not only will the proposed reduction hamper the MLPD’s ability to quickly and competently solve crimes, other services the public has come to expect from the department will not be possible with a force of 10 officers. Those include but are not limited to:

  • One of many recent examples involved a child molestation case. In this case, officers arrested the suspect as he was leaving the scene at the time of the event.  If services were reduced at the time of this incident, there wouldn’t have been sufficient officers to respond in a timely manner and make the arrest.


  • Officers will be very limited and may not be able to provide regular public service activities such as, helping tourists put on chains and/or pull people from a snow bank, jump starting cars, assist with lockouts, returning dogs to their owners, giving people rides home, and the other daily activities that are part of the reason we live in Mammoth Lakes.


  • Proactive activity that reduces crime will be substantially impacted.  These activities would include bar checks, DUI patrol, and an overall less visible police presence.  We can anticipate an increase in drug activity, thefts, property crime, assaults, drunks, and juvenile crime.

With the proposed plan, there will no longer be a School Resource Officer (SRO), or an officer assigned to the narcotics task force.   In recent years the SRO prevented a planned school shooting by a student in which the student was arrested and handgun was recovered along with other evidence of the pre-planned event.  The drug problem in Mammoth Lakes is significant; however it is curtailed by the narcotics task force.  Without narcotic enforcement, the drug problem will be out of control.  A recent example was when a young person overdosed on heroin.  The narcotics task force was able to work the case and ultimately arrest the individual who had supplied the victim with the drugs that killed him/her.  This will lead to more thefts, more property crime, and more assaults.  Not to mention the gang member drug dealers who will come from Reno, Fresno and Los Angeles area to set up shop in an un-policed Mammoth Lakes.

Some have concluded that officer’s are overpaid and over benefited.  Professional, quality law enforcement service is not cheap.   In comparison, there are many agencies that have lesser benefit packages and many with higher.  The existing MLPOA contract was approved by the Town Council and has been changed several times through negotiations.  The contracts are through mutual agreement.  Nothing has been forced upon Council.  What you don’t hear at the Council meeting is that during the last pre-bankruptcy mediation the MLPOA was asked to concede 24% in salary/benefits/personnel, while the other Town associations were asked to concede 10%.  The MLPOA gave up 23% in salary/benefits/personnel, while the other creditors and associations gave up 10%.   Because of the cuts given up by the MLPOA, the budget was approved by Council and the police department is operating within its approved budget.   It should also be known that the MLPOA and other employee associations voluntarily negotiated with the Town two years ago to help the Town meet their budget.  Again, the other employee groups were asked to concede 10% while the MLPOA was asked to concede 24% to avoid layoffs.  This isn’t about the police department causing the Town to go broke.  This is about a political need to layoff police officers.

The employee associations were told by the Town during pre-bankruptcy that they “just need one last cut”.  We all gave the Town what they wanted, and here we are two months later and they want to cut nearly half the police force?  What about the clause in the MLPOA contract signed by the Town that states that the Town will maintain a staffing level for the police department at 17 officers?

This proposed plan will jeopardize the safety of our residents, visitors, and officers.  The Town definitely has a problem, but the money for the down payment and annual installments already exists within the Town’s budget outside of public safety and other “essential services.” One would have to ask themselves, why no cuts to other departments such as Housing, Tourism or Transportation?  All the advertising in the world or free transportation will not sell an unsafe community, even if the skiing is great.  Who wants to have their skis stolen, car burglarized or become the victim of an assault?  As those problems grow, tourism will shrink.

Whatever the final decision of the Council is, the damage to the police department is already done and may be irreversible.  Many officers are seeking employment with other law enforcement agencies and will likely be hired, while others are retiring early.  These vested officers will be difficult to replace in a Town where public safety and officer safety are not a priority.  Hundreds of thousands of invested dollars will be unnecessarily lost because of the Council’s political decision to continue to attack the MLPOA.

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26 Responses to Mammoth Police Officers Association lays out serious impacts of proposed cuts

  1. Realist October 10, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

    The problem is that the County has no one to spare and is down three deputies. Sheriff Scholl is responsible for policing 1,200 square miles. Help for Mammoth could be over an hour away. The deputies go off duty at midnight and the CHP go off duty at 10:00 P.M.

    The biggest time for fights and drunks is after midnight. There is no one to help MLPD during prime time.

  2. Peter October 10, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    Looks like the city will have to consider contracting with the county for services, because there is no way they can provide for the safety of visiters during the tourist season with numbers that low and in California, thats just asking for a court settlement for preventable damages aka negligence….

  3. Steve October 10, 2012 at 7:13 am #

    MLT before safety… get rid of John Urdi and his crew. They are not needed!

  4. Something smells fishy October 9, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    You know what they say – the fish stinks from the head.
    The honorable thing to do is resign.

  5. Dave Liddell October 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    I don’t live in Mammoth Lakes but having been a visitor for decades, if I did live there, I would be the first one trying to recall those crooks.

    I bet they say that this is their last term. What a legacy to go out on, let the citizens make a real statement, let’s recall at least Wood and Eastman.

    Save the cops and kick out the counsel.

    D. Liddell
    Southern Cal Visitor

  6. Repercussions October 9, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    I hope we don’t start seeing excessive tickets for rolling stops, 5 mph over the speed limit, breathalyzer tests for anyone exiting a bar or restaurant …

  7. tm October 9, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    It’s hard to believe that Mammoth survived all those years before incorporating, with no MLPD at all.

    • Ken Warner October 9, 2012 at 11:11 am #

      There were fewer people coming up here then. The people themselves were different. You can’t compare 1980 Mammoth with 2012 Mammoth.

      • Econ 101 October 9, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

        If you can’t attract the wealthy ski crowd in these terrible economic times – all you will attract are the younger snowboarders who don’t spend a whole lot when here.

  8. MJA October 9, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Rather than paying Ballas anything and the the town of Mammoth losing anything, let him build his proposed garbage out at the airport. And if he makes the 40 million on the deal he told the jury he would have made at least he will have earned it rightfully.
    Let him finish his plan period.


    • Mark October 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

      I’m amazed you don’t get it yet.

      The problem was never Ballas. The problem has alway been and still is the city council.

      The good people of Mammoth need to throw them out, or vote them out, before anything will change.

      • Wake up people October 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

        Two of the councilmen were around since the beginning.
        They are still around.
        And now we have another one who is none other than … A Developer.
        When are people going to wake up?

      • Get Real October 9, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

        Once again Mark has nailed it. Ballas was entiltled to get back the money he invested into the airport thinking that he had a legally valid agreement with the town. When the town council violated the agreement and refused to pay Ballas what they legally, ethically and morally owed him, he got himself an attorney just like any one of us would do. He took his case before a court of law as he is entitled to under our system of laws. Many Americans have died for our right to take these types on matters to a court of law rather than settle the issue with violence. This is what makes us civilized.

        The same councilmen who thought they could out spend Ballas in legal fees and make him go away, are the same ones that voted to violate the contract they signed with the Police Department. Ballas was forced to sell the lawsuit when he saw that these councilmen, one an attorney, were willing to spend any amount of the citizens money, so they would be proven wrong in court. Yet we re-elect them.

        The cops deal with lying crooks on a daily basis. Now they know that dealing with this council is the same thing. They will not be fooled again.

        The council will now attempt to bamboozle the people and say that they have heard the voices of the people and they will keep the cops on until July 1, 2013 and look for other funding options. Of course that is when the MLPOA contract to maintain 17 officers expires. Don’t fall for it.

        These councilmen are like bank robbers who get caught robbing the bank. The robbers offer to give the money back and want to be let go. These councilmen got caught lying to the MLPOA and will say anything to get off the hook. Don’t buy it.

        The only way that the public trust can be regained, is for the three councilmen and two town managers who tried to pull this stunt, resign. Anything less will be business as usual and the citizens will suffer for it.

  9. Jeremiah's Alter Ego October 9, 2012 at 9:01 am #

    First off. Thank You to all public servants who do care and take helping one another very serious!
    We are living in historical times right now in more ways then one. I say that cause I strongly feel our justice system and political system needs to be reviewed in ways that fit the sustainability issues that the younger generations are unfortunately gonna be facing in the future.
    Why do we let the justice system feed off of our own? Yes there is plenty of people that deserve justice for what ever reason and I am all for that. I am not for wasting resource that we continue to take for granted and I am not for continuing to kick the unsustainable can down the road.
    What ever happened to taking care of our own? and Liberty?
    Of all the points I have made on this website this one I am about to share is from the Heart and I firmly believe this:
    In Iceland they encourage all to vote whether you are behind bars or not, if you committed a felony or not. I couldn’t agree with the reason more, that being when those that are in a bad place in life it doesn’t help to be put in a worse predicament due to laws the officers enforce. When you are in jail you are still a citizen of that country. And when you are encouraged to be a part of the issues and what is going and letting your voice be heard you feel a part of the community that you live in rather then be shunned from up town social circles!
    I am a firm believer it takes a village, I know I would appreciate being acknowledged other then be a outcast of society. To add some back up to what I am saying Iceland has a low CRIME RATE!
    We can’t keep putting band aids on arterial wounds and making ourselves believe that it is the only or best option.
    What ever happened to taking care of our own? Or showing Mother Earth appreciation for tending to our high maintenance demands?

  10. mammothlocal October 9, 2012 at 8:50 am #

    I suggest we take funds from the tourism and transit departments. Why do we need so much money going into tourism and marketing? People in CA know where Mammoth is. We dont need to keep spending so much money promoting this town. Charge for transit, or only run it on the weekends and holiday time. There are many avenues to pick and eliminate from besides the Police department.

    • Really October 9, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

      I agree charge for transit!

      The MMSA needs to step up to the plate and kick down, they use our name Mammoth for there advertising. They are the one’s who want the foreigners here anyways.

      We also need to really put one person that already works for the town on TOT. That is a huge amount.

      The police officers are here for us, I would like to see Rick Wood or John Eastman call the police for something and they can’t response in a quick manner due to our cuts. It just may take that to happen sham on you.

      Let hope it doesn’t have to get to that place.

  11. Keeping It Real October 9, 2012 at 7:30 am #

    Greed and Fear thrive in the TOWN OF MAMMOTH LAKES….
    I just paid $5.08 for a gallon of gas on main street today.
    Having 27 LEO’s or dozens of high-speed six-pack chairlifts may be a moot point.
    Our Town Fathers may have just put us ALL out of business.
    Have you got enough food and ammo stockpiled, might be the better question Benett?

  12. reality bites October 8, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    Let us talk Crime statistics. I will refer to the 2010 statistic supplied by the California Department of Justice, they were the last year statistic are supplied for.

    Mammoth Lakes had a total of 46 violent crimes for the year. 8 were rapes, 2 robberies, and 36 aggravated assaults (Domestic Violence, Etc.). Of these 46 crimes 15 were cleared. Mammoth Police have a 33 percent clearance rate for these crimes; they solve one out of three of these crimes. There were a total of 71 Felony arrests and 203 Misdemeanor arrests. This is an average of one felony arrest every 5.14 days and one misdemeanor every 1.7 days. The majority of felony arrests were for assault at 22. The majority of misdemeanor arrests were for drunk in public at 78 followed by 55 DUI, 19 for battery and 19 for failure to appear, the rest were spread about.

    Mammoth Lakes Police Dept. made a total of 14 narcotic arrests for the Year 2010. 9 were for misdemeanor drug arrests and 5 were for felony drug arrests. Now you heard of our major drug problem that will only get worse if the Police are thinned out. Is it really that bad a drug problem if only 14 arrests were made all year long? Are they going to say there are so few drug arrests because of MONET’s enforcement efforts?

    You hear the MLPOA describe the drug problem in Mammoth as “is significant”, how significant is it? You think the 23 felony arrests made by the County are really holding the lid on society. If MLPD policing was so effective why did they not prevent the death of the young man who overdosed? I will tell you why, it is because something’s cannot be stopped. Look back and you will see a steady stream of arrests over the years for all the same drugs. It is like a loop tape playing over and over with only the names of the suspects changing. Mammoth and Mono county will never go dry, there are drugs surrounding us.

    The MLPOA states:

    “Don’t be fooled by not knowing what you don’t know. The Mammoth Lakes Police Department handles hundreds of felony assaults, rapes, robberies, domestic violence, and burglaries.”

    Let us assume that by hundreds this officer means at least two hundred. Over a six year period the MLPD handle 226 violent felony crimes. Over the last 10 years they handled 41 rapes and 37 rapes. So while the Officer states they have handled hundreds of these crimes, he kind of did not tell you it was over a very long period of time. And for his Burglaries…, MLPD solved on average 8.8 percent of the Burglaries that occurred. That is almost 9 out of every one hundred. So in theory 91 bad guys got away to do it again.
    The MLPOA stated we would suffer without the SRO officer. In 2010 there were a total of 7 juveniles arrested the entire year. Do we need to supply a school cop where there is clearly not a need for one? The average patrol officer could handle this many juvenile complaints. Maybe instead of picking up mail on the clock they can hang out at the school and serve their community by getting to know the kids. Hell maybe the cop who takes his kid to school could hang out afterward and get to know some of the problem kids.

    The Police are attempting to paint Mammoth as out of control and we are going to crash and burn without them. They will attempt to scare society into thinking we cannot survive without them. It is a lie. Again, I am not anti police, just anti the B.S. These Officers are not being straight with us, they attempt to prey on people’s fears, and that I cannot respect.
    Be straight forward and say how much it would suck to lose your job. Don’t run around and play games preying on people’s fears. I can take some time out of my day and make the crime statistics for our community look not so good for the argument the Police are trying to put forward.

    P.S. As far as jumping cars and pulling out stuck ones from snow banks, some of us do have AAA memberships.

    7422 calls per year equals a 20 call per day average that breaks down to 3.33 calls handled on average by each officer of the six that work a day. I know of many agencies were the average of calls handled per day by officers is over 30 plus with up to ten being actual crime reports, per day.

  13. Sean F October 8, 2012 at 10:32 pm #

    Why can’t the money be saved by across the board pay cuts for all employees instead of layoffs for any city department? For example everyone takes a 5% or 10% hit? I am sure the TC has considered this. Why is butchering the PD the best option?

    I would prefer cost cutting to be in the form of reduction in hours worked FOR ALL CITY EMPLOYEES before anyone gets laid off (cops or otherwise). Aren’t there any other options?

    It is funny (or not) how many people I know down south emailed me when the news of the Mammoth BK made national news. They wanted to know what was going on. The BK news seemed to lower people’s opinion or perception of the “Mammoth brand” (Good times? Beautiful snow covered mountains and great outdoor sports?). Bottom line is you could hear the disappointment in their voices.

    The news that the Mammoth PD has basically been emasculated would be far worse then the damaging news of the BK (I agree with the BK filing BTW). My point is that news hurt I think but I KNOW the news that there will be one officer on duty at times will encourage crime and really damage the Mammoth brand.

    If I was going to rob a bank would I do it in the town like Bishop with 3 or 4 cops on duty or in Mammoth where I read in the news there is only one cop on duty??? For a criminal it would be a no brainer.

    I want Mammoth PD kept at 17 officers and I will VOTE for any new town counsel candidates who make this a main part of their platform (if there are layoffs). The next election is next March right?

    If people have to be laid off I want it coming from places other than the PD. I would prefer to see no one laid off and for everyone to take a hit.

    Like this post if you want NO cops laid off. Dislike it if you want to see some of them laid off. Lets see how the numbers stack up.

  14. Todd October 8, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

    Since the town has already rolled the ball to delete their police departmet we only really have two choices. Hire shady 2nd rate officers that cant be cops anywhere else to fill the void or contract our services out. The damage has already beeen done and the good officers will leave and find BETTER pay elsewhere without the drama. What type of person would want to work where they are beat down by the public and their own for over four years.

    • Get Real October 8, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

      Todd, you are right on the mark. The town officials have totally destroyed their credibility with the officers by lying to them saying just 90 days ago if they signed the new contract, they would not come back and ask for more.

      If a police officer lies like that he becomes a “Brady Officer” who, if he is not fired, cannot testify in court with any credibility.

      Cops have simple values and understand that when the Town Council and the two town managers LIE to them, they have no future here in Mammoth Lakes. Even if the council decided not to cut the Police Department, the officers know that they could never again have confidence that their jobs are safe. The damage done to the police department is not repairable as long as this council and the two town managers run the town. The trust is gone and cannot be regained. Even officers who are not due to be laid off, will leave with the exception of the few who only have a few years left until they retire.

      What makes the town council’s actions even more despicable is that they blindsided their Chief of Police and never even consulted him.

      The only cops that will come to Mammoth now are the losers who no one else will hire. They of course will get the town sued.

      Hopefully the MLPOA will file a complaint against Rick Wood with the State Bar Association for his actions in this matter.

      It is easy to see now why every judge and jury in the MLLA matter ruled against the town.

  15. Sierra Lady October 8, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    If you don’t agree with more cuts to the MLPD, make yourself heard by either speaking at a Town Council meeting or forward your comments via e-mail to Town Clerk, Jamie Gray, at [email protected].

    I did today. Here was my letter addressed to the Mammoth Lakes Town Council:

    “Mammoth Lakes Town Council

    Cutting ANY Mammoth Lakes Police Officers is simply unacceptable! Period. Not one Town Council member ever took a Mammoth Lakes Community Police Academy class even though they were invited. Those classes were incredibly invaluable and now they too are no longer available due to MLPD budget cuts. If any of you had attended those classes, you all would realize exactly what our officers and PD staff do on a daily basis. I think each and every one of you should go on a PD ride-along before you make any more drastic decisions. It is vital we maintain the amount of officers we already have. Please don’t put Mammoth Lakes at risk! I plead with you not to make these cuts. Thank you.

    B. Richter
    30 year Mammoth Lakes resident
    Mammoth Lakes CERT member since 2008
    Ex-TOML employee of 15 years; position eliminated in 2009
    Mammoth Lakes Community Police Academy #2 Graduate 2011”

    • Dan the man October 8, 2012 at 10:52 pm #


      The overtime is unacceptable to pay for your citizen on patrol classes. The council members are probably aware of this and avoided going because of the drain on the tax payers. Thank you for the link, I will make sure I send a letter in support of disbanding the Police Department to the town clerk.



  16. A Sad Nightmare October 8, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    The bottom line is that the MLPOA has a SIGNED CONTRACT with the town that states the town will mantain minimun staffing of 17 officers. The town signed this contract only three months ago.

    The town, specifically the Town Council, is doing the same thing to the MLPOA that they did to Terry Ballas and that is to give their word and sign a contract, then admit they lied and screw them. History repeats itself.

    Never once did MLLA or the judge mention cutting essential services. They wanted 40% of the discretionary funding that the town has. This is why the judge told the Town they could not declare bankruptcy.

    Eastman, Wood, Lehman, MMM and dishonest Dave have always blamed previous town leaders for breaking the contract they had with Ballas and getting the town sued. The current council stuck with the big lie and spent 5 million dollars on lawyers and lost every step of the way. Now our present council is doing the exact same thing that they blame previous councils for, breaking a legal and binding contract. The irony is incredible.

    NOTE TO MLLA: Here is another slam dunk lawsuit that you can buy.

  17. K Irvine October 8, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    During the Christmas –New Year week the town’s population will soar to over 40,000;there will be auto accidents, snowboard thefts, drunken fights outside bars, illegal drug deals, domestic quarrels etc. etc. How will a reduced police force respond to all calls during this period? Answer: very difficult! Many of these visitors will be families who expect that they will be safe and protected in this town. It is very short sighted not to think that public safety is an important element of tourism. If Mammoth were to acquire a reputation as a dangerous place the financial consequences could be severe.

    • Ken Warner October 8, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

      Exactly so! The most important component of a tourism based economy is public safety.

      I think of travel to certain foreign countries as a good counter example. People are warned not to visit certain countries — countries not too far away — because they are not safe there. Even certain cities not too far away are avoided because they aren’t safe.

      It’s hard to listen to the fools who think that because our current police department does a good job keeping them safe, they aren’t needed anymore because they feel safe. That’s an infantile analysis.

      And those same fools think that tourists will continue to come here when they stop feeling safe after the town reduces the police department to a point where it can’t function with even modest crowds.

      That’s just stupid. And that’s just because the Town Council is stupid and desperate to find somebody else to take the burden for their past malfeasance.

      Support the MLPD! Don’t let stupid desperate fools sacrifice your personal safety and the financial future of this town.


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