Watson unveils lean police plan


‘We can’t patrol the town 24 hours a day, seven days a week’

Got a noisy party going on next door? Calling the cops won’t get you very far.

Looking for that school resource officer in the hallways of Mammoth’s schools? He may be there, maybe not.

Have a late-night problem with stuff that isn’t directly related to public safety, such as vandalism or a low-level misdemeanor? It will have to wait.

These, and a host of other police services to which Mammoth residents have become accustomed, will disappear under a bare-bones police deployment plan that Police Chief Dan Watson delivered to the Town Council on Wednesday.

“We can’t patrol the town 24 hours a day, seven days a week with only seven people assigned to patrol,” he said in a workshop that preceded the actual Town Council meeting.

“We went through a period of time where it may have looked like I was resistant to the council. I was giving you my honest opinion. Once the decision was made, it’s now our responsibility to take what we’ve got and do the very best we can.

“We understand where we’re going and we’re committed to doing the very best we can.”

The details of the new deployment structure, however, were based on one central fact, he said.

“To provide two officers 24 hours a day, it would take 13 people. We will have seven.

“We would have two people on patrol duty from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. and we’ll be dark from 3 a.m. until 7 a.m. That will require having people on call from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m.

“We aren’t going to be coming out in the middle of the night that don’t involved public safety. Vandalism, loud parties, the more minor, misdemeanor crimes, we won’t respond to.

“We will respond to major incidents, major traffic accidents, DUI accidents, that kind of thing, along with felony calls such as domestic violence.”

Watson, who has had to adjust his deployment as a result of the town’s aggressive restructuring, said the list of services to be cut or reduced are as follows:

• School Resource Officer will become part-time

• DARE program will be eliminated

• Narcotics enforcement (reduced)

• Footbeats in the Village (eliminated)

• On-duty attendance at major events (eliminated)

• Non-injury traffic collision reports (reduced)

• Noise complaints (unless the reporting party is willing to sign a complaint, eliminated)

• Second alarm calls (eliminated)

• Civil standbys (reduced)

• Animal control calls (eliminated)

• Assisting Mammoth Mountain Ski Area security with housing and employee incidents (eliminated)

• Responding to infractions at Mammoth Mountain (eliminated)

• Traffic and DUI enforcement (reduced)

• Medical assistance for paramedics (reduced)

• Assistance at fire calls (reduced)

In addition, Watson said police response would sometimes not exactly be Johnny-on-the-spot.

“There will sometimes be a delayed response to calls for service during busy hours,” he said.

Watson also said he would spearhead a more aggressive volunteer program, to be led by former MLPD Sergeant Karen Smart, and find ways in which to utilize other law enforcement agencies.

The response from the council, which last Dec. 5 authorized the reductions in Watson’s budget, was muted, at best.

“I’m happy that you have met some these challenges,” said councilman Rick Wood. “There is no doubt we’ll have a different level of service, and I appreciate the specificity with which you’ve presented these reductions.

“I also think that even though we’ve lost a lot of folks, those who remain are still committed as police officers to do the job we’ve asked them to do.”