By Kyle Clayton
On April 13, San Dimas City Council voted 4-0 to adopt a one-year modification to the existing contract between the city and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Councilmember Ryan Vienna, an LASD lieutenant, abstained from the vote. The modification allocated an additional $250,000 of the budget to fund a dedicated motorcycle traffic unit to patrol the city.
City Manager Chris Constantin suggested the modification to city council because of an increase in residents’ concerns regarding speeding and traffic violations within the city. Constantin said the majority of crime-related complaints received by the city are traffic-related.
“Traffic violations are crime and a crime that the community is intent to improve,” Constanin said in an interview with San Dimas Community Post.
Before the April 13 meeting, the city received 14 emails in favor of the addition of a motorcycle unit, seven of which specifically referenced a perceived rise in non-traffic-related crime within the city. Following the fatal stabbing of Jeanne Edgar on March 25 at Lone Hill Park, for example, community members expressed concerns regarding an increase in local crime.
“Having a dedicated traffic officer both addresses those concerns as well as frees up other officers that would otherwise be patrolling the community and responding to non-traffic-related crimes within the city,” Constanin wrote in a follow up email.
San Dimas Sheriff’s Captain Walid Ashrafnia addressed how a traffic unit could help prevent crime within the city at large.
“While they are traffic units, they’re still deputies, and they can still help out and be a great resource when it comes to crimes in progress and critical incidents,” Ashrafnia said during the council meeting.
Regarding the impact on the city’s budget, Constantin identified the funding sources for the additional officer.
The city received a reduced fee from LASD through the utilization of a Citizen’s Option for Public Safety, or COPS, grant, a state program for law enforcement funding. The city also intends to offset the general fund expenditures through federal funding allocated to the city through the U.S. American Rescue Plan, which is meant to provide financial assistance for COVID-related uses.
Constantin said changes in traffic due to COVID justify reimbursement by the Rescue Plan for the motorcycle unit expenditure. The expected reimbursement “more than covers this motor unit,” Constantin said.
While funded by the city, hiring and oversight for the motor unit were conducted by the San Dimas Sheriff Station.
Ashrafnia conducted the recruitment and interview process for the new position. At the April 27 city council meeting, Ashrafnia introduced the new motorcycle deputy Luis Rojas, who transferred from the Temple Sheriff’s Station. The one-year modification will be eligible for review and renewal in April 2022.