Public safety is one of the fundamental responsibilities of government. This year we have expanded the abilities of our county first responders, mental health officials, and foster care system, which all play an important, interconnected, role in public safety.
Already reeling from the governor’s failed AB 109 Realignment program, our residents and law enforcement personnel will now have to deal with Proposition 47, which will dramatically affect crime rates throughout the state. Under this new voter-approved law, those who used to be imprisoned for committing certain property crimes, forgery, and drug possession will now receive only receive a slap on the wrist, and those already incarcerated for these crimes can now petition for resentencing or release.
To reduce response times and enhance public safety, the Board of Supervisors recently set aside $12 million to fund additional Sheriff’s Department patrols in the county’s unincorporated areas. The allocation of these funds will be considered early next month. We also approved a revised Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to continue our efforts under the 287(g) program. This MOA allows certain Sheriff’s custody assistants to assist federal immigration agents in identifying offenders, who are in the country illegally, for deportation and/or federal prosecution proceedings. The county has participated in this program since 2005 and it is an important tool for enhancing public safety.
In September, as part of our D.I.S.A.R.M. program, local law enforcement agents and probation officers performed unannounced sweeps on probationers at 1,062 locations. 134 probationers were found to be in violation and arrested. Since its creation in 2000, the D.I.S.A.R.M. program has led to the arrest of 20,597 probation violators, as well as the confiscation of more than 9,679 weapons and more than $648 million in drugs and drug money.
Our Board of Supervisors unanimously approved my motion for the full implementation of Laura’s Law in Los Angeles County. With this new policy, a family member, professional treatment provider or law enforcement agency can pursue a court-order for outpatient treatment of someone demonstrating serious mental illness. This policy will save lives and provide a humane alternative to the revolving door of mental hospitals, jails and the streets.
Protecting our most vulnerable children remains one of my biggest priorities. In June, the Board of Supervisors approved sweeping changes to the county’s child welfare system, based upon recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection. The commission was assembled in response to the tragic events surrounding the death of little Gabriel Fernandez and deficiencies in the county’s child welfare system. Recommended changes include shared personnel, data and resources between the various county agencies, law enforcement and schools that interact in child welfare cases.
In addition, the growing use of psychotropic drugs on our foster children is a concerning trend. While Los Angeles County falls slightly below statewide averages, we have one in four foster youth on prescribed psychotropic medications. This is an alarming statistic when compared with non-foster youth. It is vital for the county to understand the full scope of the use of these medications on our foster children, especially in relation to the more critical psychological therapy and services that these youth should be receiving.
Soon we will be moving forward with a new fire station near the Commerce Center in Castaic. The Board of Supervisors approved the construction of Station 143, to be built in the 28600 block of Hasley Canyon Road at an estimated cost of $10.47 million. It will replace the existing Station 76, expanding service to our Castaic area residents and business owners, and it is expected to be completed in September 2016.
Last month, the Board of Supervisors approved my motion to allocate $3 million to build a new Senior Center in the Santa Clarita Valley. The Santa Clarita Valley Committee on Aging has already completed a needs assessment to identify facility requirements and we will continue to work closely with them and the City of Santa Clarita throughout the process. Earlier this year, we also approved a $166,318 supportive services program grant for the center and an additional $29,000 for their annual nutrition program.
Earlier this month, the county unveiled its new trails website: www.trails.lacounty.gov. There, hikers, bikers, equestrians and others can access information on our 367+ miles of trails, including: live weather conditions; trail difficulty, terrain and slope; available trail connections, and; directions and parking options. Last week, the board of supervisors also approved a pool renovation project at Val Verde Park and authorized our Parks Department to seek grant money to construct an Olympic-sized pool at our new Castaic Sports Center/Pool Complex.
Finally, the Board of Supervisors approved my motion last week to initiate a process to analyze parks and recreation needs throughout the county. Sold as a simple extension to the expiring Proposition A tax, Proposition P was rejected by county voters on November 4th, because it came from the top down and not the bottom up. We need to evaluate every existing funding source before asking taxpayers to increase their tax burden to pay for a basic municipal service.
As we head into the Holiday Season with family and friends, let us remember and give thanks to the sacrifices of our brave men and women in uniform who have secured our freedoms.
If you would like more information on county-related services or have a question or concern, please feel free to visit my Santa Clarita Valley field office or contact my office at (661) 287-3657(661) 287-3657 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also get the latest county updates by following me on Facebook and Twitter.
MICHAEL D. ANTONOVICH
Supervisor, Fifth District