Pasadena Controversy Won’t Keep Deputies From Rose Parade Duty : Law enforcement: A disproportionate number of Lynwood officers sign up to work New Year’s Day.
So far, it’s a rout.
The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, holding the threat of not showing up at the Tournament of Roses Parade, has gotten the Pasadena City Council to back down at every turn in a loud, messy dispute the council started a month ago by announcing that it didn’t want any “neo-Nazi” or “white supremacist” deputies to patrol the Rose Parade.
First the council said it was sorry for any misunderstanding over some members’ remarks about an allegedly racist group operating in the Lynwood sheriff’s station. And it withdrew a condition that members of the organization of deputies, the Vikings, be excluded from Rose Parade duty.
Then, informed that the apology wasn’t clear enough, Pasadena Mayor Jess Hughston personally apologized, this time more fervently than his colleagues had. “The mayor used the A word,” for apologize, an appeased Sheriff Sherman Block said.
“We’ve bent over backward so far we could touch our heels,” Councilman Chris Holden said. “What else is there to do?”
Now the council has apparently caved in altogether, letting a disproportionately large contingent of Lynwood deputies--more than 100 of them--sign up for New Year’s Day parade duty, even after a lawyer for litigants in a federal lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Department told council members that some of the Lynwood volunteers will probably be members of the Vikings.
“The evidence in front of (U.S. District) Judge (Terry J.) Hatter"--who is hearing the Lynwood case--"indicates that, if there are 100 Lynwood volunteers, you’ll most probably have Vikings among that group,” said Kevin S. Reed of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is representing Lynwood residents against the Sheriff’s Department.
Council members wondered aloud Tuesday if the sending of 80% of Lynwood’s deputies was Block’s way of humiliating them. The sheriff met with Lynwood deputies last week and urged them all to sign up for parade duty.
“Are we being punished somehow for the actions and statements of recent weeks?” Councilman Isaac Richard asked.
This wasn’t an in-your-face gesture of scorn by Block, insisted Pasadena Police Chief Jerry Oliver, who has held recent meetings with the sheriff. Block’s appeal to the Lynwood deputies was just his way of assuring that a sufficient number of deputies would volunteer to work in Pasadena, the chief said.
“The entire Sheriff’s Department (was) looking to the Lynwood station to see if people would be willing to come forward,” Oliver told the council, “to see if the deputies would be willing to help put on a safe parade.”
The Lynwood deputies were “barometer” of parade support among deputies, Oliver said.
The council, adhering to last week’s promise to avoid damaging debate on the parade issue until after Jan. 1, accepted the chief’s assurances.
The dispute started a month ago, when the council voted to allocate $400,000 to hire 763 sheriff’s deputies for Rose Parade and Rose Bowl game security. But, because some council members hoped to ensure a minority presence among deputies assigned to the parade, the council added the provision excluding members of the Vikings.
“Of necessity we must continue doing business with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department,” said Councilman William Paparian, who has since declared his intention of running for the County Board of Supervisors.
But keep the neo-Nazis and white supremacists out, Paparian demanded, citing Hatter’s finding that a white supremacist group was operating in the Lynwood station.
The embattled Block, whose department has been the target of recent charges of corruption and excessive force, responded angrily, denying that a racist club existed in the department and demanding an apology before he would permit deputies to work in Pasadena on New Year’s Day, as they have for 35 years.
With apologies at last extended, Block was concerned that deputies would boycott the parade, said a spokesman for the Assn. of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS), which represents 6,500 deputies. Last Thursday, Block went to the source of greatest resistance: the 125 Lynwood deputies.
“It’s my understanding that he was attempting to get 100% participation (by the Lynwood deputies),” said Shaun Mathers, president of the deputies association.
Deputies who signed up were driven by a need to prove themselves, Mathers said. “They want to show what an outstanding job the Lynwood deputies would do.”