Mammoth Lakes Police Chief Dan Watson 

Next month, Mammoth Police Chief Dan Watson will likely go to the Town Council to explain service cutbacks and revised shift schedules as a result of expected cuts in police officer positions. With no final determination yet, the Chief does expect the elimination of some police services – footbeats in the Village, investigations of property damage in traffic wrecks, delayed response times and periods when no police will be on duty.

As Mammoth Police Officers, discouraged by the plan to severely reduce their numbers, look for other jobs, things will change for law enforcement in Mammoth Lakes – even before the Town Council cuts take effect next July. Mammoth Police Chief Dan Watson said three officers are retiring and two are leaving for other departments by December 31. One may remain on contract for six months.

The Chief said, “In addition to these, at least five other officers are processing for jobs with other law enforcement agencies.” Chief Watson, diplomatic but candid in his public comments about the demise of nearly half his department, said the Town Council will make “their difficult, final decisions on the reorganization plan and how to pay the $2 million per year settlement at the next meeting on December 5.”  The Chief believes the Council will stick with the plan to cut seven sworn positions, leaving the Mammoth Lakes Police Department with ten officers.

Chief Watson said he will go to the Town Council, probably in December, with a report that will explain the service cutbacks and revised shift schedule that he will implement sometime before July 1. The Chief is clear to say that there have been no final determinations in what service reductions will be implemented, but he is also clear that police will no longer do some of the things they have historically – footbeats in the Village, investigations of property damage, delayed response to some types of calls or no response for some minor incidents. He says there will likely be periods when “there will be no one on duty and officers will be on call for major events.”

Chief Watson said he will meet with the Bishop Police Chief and Sheriffs of Mono and Inyo Counties to “work out arrangements to hire their personnel on an overtime basis for dates when we need more officers than we have available.” The Chief said none of this has been finalized. Considering government finances, it is unknown if the other departments have the capacity to grant the Chief’s request.

Chief Watson said, “Whatever the outcome, we will make every effort to see that service reductions are minimized for the least impact on residents and visitors. These changes,” he said, “will be phased in as personnel depart and I do not have a timeline at this time.”

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