It took deputies from the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station 3.7 minutes to respond to 911 calls in La Cañada Flintridge in 2013, an average that was quicker than all other areas patrolled by the station.
City Manager Mark Alexander said just under the four-minute mark was a “pretty good” response time, but that’s mainly because La Cañada has one advantage: It has its own contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“What happens in the mountain areas doesn’t impact our [patrol] cars, our cars are dedicated,” he said.
La Cañada pays for two squad cars to respond to calls within the 8.6-square-mile community.
But it’s a different story for the remaining unincorporated 264 square miles manned by the Crescenta Valley Station, many of those miles in mountainous terrain.
It took the local station’s deputies an average of 10 minutes to respond to 911 calls last year, according to a county report aimed at increasing the numbers of people in uniform.
The statistic is a marked increase from 2010, when it took 7.6 minutes for local Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies to respond to emergency calls, the report said.
Crescenta Valley Capt. Bill Song said the number of deputies on patrol has remained stable since 2010. He said he presumes the difference in response time has to do with more calls stemming from areas deeper within the Angeles National Forest than before.
It can take half an hour or more to reach remote areas such as the sparsely populated Kagel Canyon, Song said.
“When we get calls out there, our response time is high,” he said.
When it comes to responding to emergency calls in La Crescenta, which Song refers to as the metropolitan area, response times range between three and four minutes.
By comparison, Glendale police average 3.9 minutes to arrive on scene, according to data from that department.
While no cuts have been made to staffing in the Crescenta Valley area, officials say additional help would cut response times.
The station, whenever it can, assigns one deputy to calls in the wilderness areas, said Sgt. Burton Brinks.
If no one is on mountain duty, a deputy from the metropolitan area is dispatched instead, Brinks said.
Song said his own assessment found the station would benefit from having five additional deputies for the mountainous area, including some who would be dedicated to roaming forest roads instead of just waiting for calls.
“They wouldn't come to the city area, they'd stay in the mountains so the response time would be faster,” he said.
The report on response times in unincorporated county communities was conducted by the office of William Fujioka, the county's CEO.
The document finds that unincorporated communities patrolled by the sheriff's department is in need of 123 new deputies at a total estimated cost of $22.9 million. Such spending would require approval from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
Fujioka, who announced plans last week to retire in November, stated in the report that the hiring process could be implemented within two years.
Follow Arin Mikailian on Twitter: @ArinMikailian.