Public safety has been a highly-debated issue in West Hollywood in recent months, and now, two months after the city’s public safety commission recommendation to cut funding to the sheriff’s department, the city’s public safety director Kristin Cook has resigned.
“I’m about to embark on a new adventure and completely shift gears,” Cook said in a statement. “I’m stepping away from public safety and exploring opportunities closer to home. My son only has three more years left before he goes to college, and the pandemic made me realize that life is precious and goes by fast. I remember him as a toddler holding onto Sal Guarriello’s leg so tightly for sanctuary as Jeanne Dobrin tried unsuccessfully to pick him up. Fast forward 15 years, and I don’t want to miss another moment.”
Cook has been with the city since 1999, first serving as the emergency management coordinator and then public safety manager before ascending to her most recent position. As public safety director, Cook was in charge of managing the more than-$20 million contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. She was also in charge of implementing public safety measures as approved by the City Council.
Public safety commissioners are appointed by City Council members and are tasked with evaluating and recommending mechanisms to improve public safety.
The debate over how to deal with rising crime rates in West Hollywood had put Cook’s department in the cross hairs on all sides of the debate. Asked about how the controversy might relate to Cook’s resignation, council members and the city did not comment. Cook is not granting interviews.
Public safety was not on the agenda at the May 2 City Council meeting, but some residents used the public comments section to speak to the issue. Public safety commissioner Nika Soon-Shiong used the opportunity to double down on her support for cutting funding to the sheriff’s department, highlighting how the funds could be reallotted.
“We could quadruple Block by Block’s presence and have a security ambassador in every single corner of the city,” Soon-Shiong said.
Justice L.A. Coalition coordinator Ambrose Brooks also spoke in support of cutting $3.2 million from the Sheriff’s Department.
“It is clear the sheriff’s department is not doing its job,” Brooks said, adding that through the misuse of funds the department is “defrauding the city of West Hollywood.”
But city officials were uniform in their praise of Cook’s leadership.
“I have enjoyed working with Kristin Cook and appreciate her years of service to the city,” Mayor Pro Tempore Sepi Shyne said. “I wish her an amazing journey and best wishes and certainly understand her need to be closer to family.”
“Kristin Cook has served the city and communities of West Hollywood for over 21 years,” Councilman John Erickson said. “I knew her when I started as an intern for the city, and her dedication to public service and public safety is something I am grateful for. I wish her all the best of luck in the future and thank her for her service.”
“I wish Kristin Cook the best in this next step of her journey and have enjoyed working with her,” Soon-Shiong said.
“It has been an honor working with Kristin Cook on public safety matters over the past five years,” public safety commissioner Robert Oliver said. “She has always been a dependable resource on public safety matters. In her many years of service to West Hollywood, Kristin demonstrated her commitment to the safety of our community. Kristin will certainly be missed in West Hollywood. Kristin’s years of public safety experience and vast institutional knowledge will be difficult to replace, but I hope hiring our next public safety director will be our city’s top priority in the weeks ahead.”
Cook’s resignation is effective Friday, May 6. The city had no comment on when her vacancy would be filled.
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