Should La Puente have a public safety committee?

Deputy+Daniel+Padilla+is+at+the+sheriff%27s+station+in+the+city+of+Industry+as+he+prepares+for+a+10-hour+shift.

Edward Nelson

Deputy Daniel Padilla is at the sheriff’s station in the city of Industry as he prepares for a 10-hour shift. The city of La Puente contracts with the county sheriff’s office for police services.

Briana Munoz, Editor-in-Chief

The city of La Puente has a committee that honors the beauty of the area’s homes and one that works with local school districts.

But a bigger concern of some residents is public safety in light of crime in recent years, including reports of drive-by shootings last year, as well as alternative policing models floated in neighboring cities.

That’s why the idea of creating a public safety committee was raised at a city council meeting on Feb. 23. Unincorporated areas or smaller cities like La Puente that can’t afford their own police departments contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, but the extent of services provided can vary based on a city’s budget.

A public safety committee could play a role in overseeing issues related to crime and perhaps addressing questions about alternative policing models being proposed and implemented across the country.

“We’ve been trying to change the committees for five years,” Councilmember Valerie Munoz said. “Maybe this is our opportunity to change the scope of what these committees are doing. Perhaps one that touches public safety issues.”

She added that a lot of community members want to be involved with public safety issues. 

Councilmember David Argudo said he’d be willing to work with Munoz on the idea.

Council members also discussed the idea of expanding from six to ten the so-called Puente Pride Home Beautification Program committee, which encourages people to take pride in their homes.

Argudo questioned the idea.

“We’re not filling the [existing six] seats already,” he said. “Why not continue to try and fill those seats?”

Mayor Charlie Klinakis said he was “on the fence” about increasing the number of committee appointees but said Argudo has a point about vacant seats.

“I’m wondering if all these new [potential] voices of the community are willing to engage and want to be in one of these committees” that have vacancies, said Klinakis.

Several other recommendations came from Roxanne Lerma, the director of community services. That included the possibility of re-establishing the Ralph Osborne Memorial Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service.

The Volunteer of the Year program was established in 2009 at the recommendation of then-Mayor Pro Tem Dan Holloway, who died in September.

Holloway was on the council for more than a dozen years, including as mayor for three terms. Before that, he wrote a weekly community news column for the Highlander supplement to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

Lerma suggested bringing the volunteer award back as a way to honor Holloway’s memory.

“Former members of both commissions really felt strongly that it would be a good time to bring that [volunteer program] because there are so many groups and individuals right now who are doing good work in the community,” said Lerma. “Councilmember Dan Holloway was one of the champions at that.”

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