In a striking reversal, the West Hollywood City Council has voted to fund four new Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) positions. The move comes nearly one year after city leaders voted to cut the number of deputies who patrol the city, opting to increase unarmed security “ambassadors” instead. That vote received ample criticism in conservative media, with WeHo officials accused of trying to 'defund' police.
“The safety and well-being of our community are the city of West Hollywood’s top priority,” said Mayor Sepi Shyne, who voted for the cuts last year but opted to restore the positions last week. “We’re seeing that crime is trending downward in 2023 from 2022 levels. We’re deeply committed to continuing that trend and making sure our city is safe.”
Statistics do show crime is down in WeHo this year, but perceptions don't reflect that. High-profile incidents like a recent armed robbery outside La Bohème restaurant are driving safety concerns. Those worries were expressed by many during last week’s six-hour meeting.
Councilmember Lauren Meister was one of two members who voted against the cuts in 2022.
"I think everyone is seeing what I’ve stated before. The Ambassadors, while they provide beneficial services, are not a replacement for sworn personnel,” she told Fox News Digital. “In addition, I believe Sheriff [Robert] Luna has had a positive impact on the department, as well as the relationship between the department and the city."
Meister raises an important point. Local officials’ confidence in LASD hit rock-bottom under L.A.’s bombastic ex-sheriff Alex Villanueva. Though leaders’ concerns over police accountability persist, the presence of a new sheriff probably made this pill easier to swallow.