The Antelope Valley has a new chief in town.
Lancaster is creating its own police department to help support Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies and to protect the community from crime.
Chief Rod Armalin, was sworn in this week. His law enforcement career spans 34 years, during which he served as the former police chief of Sierra Madre and worked with the Sheriff’s Department.
The creation of the agency is a first for the Antelope Valley, which has never had its own police department.
The Sheriff’s Department has been the main law enforcement agency in the area that also includes Palmdale.
The effort to create a separate agency was spearheaded by Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, who wanted to make the community safer.
“It’s my obligation to keep the families in Lancaster safe,” the mayor told the Los Angeles Times. “Quite frankly I do not care who I offend. You cannot defund the police and have a safe society.”
Armalin said new department will initially hire eight officers, with the goal of eventually hiring up to 20 to 30.
He called it a “hybrid policing program” and indicated that peace officers will focus on low-level crimes involving the homeless and serve as a secondary support system for the Sheriff’s Department.
“While they’ve done a fantastic job, we understand also that they’re taxed and there’s quite a few issues going on in our city, primarily due to staffing concerns with the Sheriff’s Department, there are some things that need to be addressed in another way,” Armalin told KTLA Thursday.
The new officers will not hit the streets until next year, however, and will be “nondispatchable,” according to the newspaper. That means they won’t respond directly to 911 calls and will instead respond after the Sheriff’s Department to speak with suspects and victims to try and prevent future incidents, the mayor told the Times.
The city budgeted “several million” dollars for the department, which include funds for four squad cars, and officials will look to hire retired or experienced law enforcement officers, the L.A. Times reported.