After 19 years, the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) will break from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to look for a new company to provide security for its nine colleges.
(LOS ANGELES, Calif.) — Contract negotiations have ended between the LACCD and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, which provides campus security for the nine district colleges.
Talks broke off after the two sides could not reach a new contract agreement. The sheriff department’s current contract on the nine college campuses will end Dec. 31, 2020.
“It is not a question of fault at this point, it’s a question of being able to understand each other,” said L.A. City College President Mary Gallagher.
The LASD will move out of L.A. City College and other colleges and district facilities by the end of the year, but the transition will begin in mid-December.
Deputy Adolfo Pastrano is the supervisor in charge at the sheriff’s station at L.A. City College. The Collegian caught up with Pastrano on a chilly afternoon before Thanksgiving on Nov. 22.
“I’m like everybody else, I don’t have a lot details, the only thing that I can tell you that I know is that the District and the sheriff’s department were unable to get an agreement with the new contract,” Pastrano said in a reserved tone. “And that’s the reason why we no longer will be serving the LACCD, and someone else will be doing the services starting next year.”
The students employed as cadets will be reassigned to other work-study positions at the college, according to Pastrano. Students may not be on campus during the pandemic, but they are in touch by email and social media.
Anishika Jontae studies at the LACC Theatre Academy.
“I have heard that the sheriffs would be leaving by the end of the year,” Jontae said. “As long as the people who are brought on to protect our campus are well-trained in safety and protection, as well as dealing with college students who might have mental health issues or who have to deal with high levels of stress throughout our studies, that would be fine.”
The search for a new security provider is under way. The new company must be in place by Jan. 1, 2021.
“The LACCD will now seek a temporary safety and security services contract while a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) is developed, and a new contract approved,” said William H. Boyer who is the District’s director of communications.
One student wonders if the District should have named a new company first.
“Maybe they should’ve named this agency before discontinuing their contract, although none of us are on campus,” said theater arts major Valerie Vega. “I think this is great, so long as there is some other form of security for those who are on campus at different hours. It’s very important that those protecting us do not have a gun. If needed, the LASD or LAPD can be called for emergencies.”
The LACCD currently spends more than $25 million a year for the LASD contract that includes 24/7 security at all nine colleges and facilities.
But the terms of the current contract did not represent what the District was paying for safety and security during the pandemic according to President Gallagher.
LACCD Board of Trustees Will Meet Before the End of the Month
“The channels of communication between the parties were back and forth about expectations for what the District wants and agreed but, time was running,” Gallagher said. “It’s not that the sheriffs are doing something that we don’t like or we’re doing something that the sheriffs don’t like, it’s contract negotiation and contracts are complicated, and it takes longer than usual.”
The LASD sent a formal letter to the District after both sides could not agree on the new contract. LACCD Chancellor Francisco C. Rodriguez says he met with the sheriffs’ representatives to formally acknowledge the end of the public safety contract.
“We have spent about five months in discussions and negotiations with LASD representatives to address the needs of the District and its colleges,” said Chancellor Rodriguez in a written statement. “But ultimately we were unable to reach mutually agreeable terms for either a short (six-month) or longer-term contract, in light of the current COVID-19 environment.”
Leadership at the District and the campus seem aware of the social justice questions that came up after the killing of George Floyd, and the protests that followed in the summer.
“The negotiations for the new terms for the new contract took a different direction in June after the situation that happened with George Floyd,” the president said during a Zoom conference with the Collegian. “This incident brought to surface some serious considerations with regard to how policing is done and what we would want at the District to have our security.”
The push for social justice caused the District to rethink campus security needs at all of the colleges and so did the pandemic.
“College campuses are empty, there are no students, no faculty, so the District began to reorganize the terms for the new contract, so it wasn’t costing us much money,” Gallagher said.
The LACCD Board of Trustees will meet before the end of the month to approve the new safety and security contract.