City Council Meeting: June 23, 2009

Agenda Item: 1-C

To:                   Mayor and City Council

From:              Timothy J. Jackman, Chief of Police

Subject:          Transportation of Santa Monica Police Department Prisoners to the County Courthouse at Los Angeles International Airport for Court Proceedings


Recommended Action

Staff recommends that the City Council authorize the City Manager to negotiate and execute a service agreement with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) in the amount of $120,061 to provide transportation for Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) prisoners to the Superior Court of California – County of Los Angeles Airport Branch.


Executive Summary

The Santa Monica Police Department has been utilizing the services of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to transport prisoners from the SMPD’s Jail to the Airport Branch Courthouse since July 2004; the current service agreement expires on June 30, 2009.  Under the terms of the service agreement, the Sheriff Department’s personnel makes one pick-up at SMPD on each court date and transports both male and female pre-arraignment misdemeanants, felons, and Santa Monica warrant arrestees to the Airport Branch Courthouse.  SMPD’s personnel provide security for the loading of the LASD’s van, and are responsible for the custody of all arrestees until they are physically on the van.  The term of the service agreement is July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2012.  Funds for the service agreement are included in the FY2009 -10 proposed budget.



Since 2000, the Los Angeles County Superior Court, in an effort to consolidate its operations and reduce costs, started to transfer some criminal cases from the Santa Monica Branch Courthouse to the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Branch of the Superior Court.  On June 11, 2004 the City was informed that no criminal case proceedings would take place at the Santa Monica Branch Courthouse and that virtually all criminal case hearings involving Santa Monica Police Department arrestees will occur at the Airport Branch Courthouse.


In response to the Superior Court’s decision, City staff identified and investigated three options in 2004:  video arraignments, an in-house prisoner transportation unit, and a service agreement with LASD for prisoner transport.


Arraignments could be conducted via a video-link between the Santa Monica Public Safety Facility (PSF) jail and a designated courtroom at the Airport Branch.  SMPD staff would be required to outfit and service at least three areas in the jail to accommodate prisoner movement, defense attorney visitation, and the arraignments themselves.  Video equipment would have to be installed in the SMPD jail and in a courtroom at the Airport Branch Courthouse, and at least six integrated services digital network (ISDN) phone lines would be required.  Jail section employees would be responsible for preparation of court paperwork, jail remand paperwork, and release paperwork that would normally be completed by court personnel; potentially requiring more Jailer positions.  It was determined that the video arraignment option was not economically viable.


SMPD evaluated creating an in-house prisoner transportation unit.  However it was determined that an in-house “Court Services Unit” with employees transporting pre-arraignment arrestees to the Airport Branch Courthouse would require four Police Officer positions and one Police Sergeant from other units within the Police Department.  Additionally, SMPD personnel who would be implementing this new court services program would not have the years of experience and the extensive support system (for this function) that the Sheriff’s Department already possesses.


In 2004 Council opted to enter into a service agreement with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for prisoner transport and staff’s assessment is that the service has worked well for the SMPD and should be continued.




Previous Council Actions

On June 8, 2004 Council authorized the City Manager to negotiate and execute a service agreement with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department [Contract # 8350 (CCS)].


Financial Impacts & Budget Actions

The service agreement to be awarded to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is $120,061 for FY2009-10.  Funds are included in the FY2009-10 proposed budget in account number 01304.566960.


Prepared by: Neela Patel, Senior Administrative Analyst – Police Budget




Forwarded to Council:







Timothy J. Jackman

Chief of Police



P. Lamont Ewell

City Manager