Saturday, July 21, 2012

Chief Gazsi Addresses The Chamber

Last Thursday Costa Mesa Police Chief Tom Gazsi addressed a group of civic and business leaders at the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce breakfast and, according to several reports from the event (I did not attend), left the audience with a generally positive view of the future.  The following observations are a paraphrased homogenization of several reports from the scene.

Gazsi discussed the rising crime rate, indicating that certain types of crimes are going up - property crimes, in particular are up 14% over last year - but that our overall crime rate is still lower than in the early and mid 1990s.

He told the group that the department has been diminished by 20% and that our city, along with virtually every other in the state, has been impacted by what he referred to as "AB109 releases" - criminals released from California prisons due to overcrowding.  He told the crowd that last year at this time we had 60 officers on patrol and that number is down to 50 this year.  The scheduling change he implemented in February, blending four 10-hour days and three 12-hour days, has helped.

He told the group that the School Resource Officer (SRO) program - Officer Jess Gilman shown here -  that was suspended near the end of the school year will be reinstated when staffing levels permit.  He apparently didn't give any specific date when that would occur.  Presently there are 11 officers out with "on-duty injuries" and my sources elsewhere tell me that the actual total number of officers nor presently on duty for any reason may be 14 or higher.  The SRO program is a critical element in the programs to head-off gang activities in the city, so we can't be without it for very long. (photo credit to the Orange County Register)

As an aside, Chief Gazsi had authorized three separate recruitment efforts - as was reported here in an earlier post.  The City is currently looking for experienced officers for lateral transfers, Reserve officers who have completed the required academy training and - until very recently - brand new recruits who would be hired, attend the police academy then be assigned to a training officer.  That particular recruitment effort has been suspended.  It had generated over 1,000 applicants - many more than it is possible to properly screen, particularly since the CMPD is not authorized to hire ANY full-time officers until the issue of a second pension tier is resolved.  However, the hopper is full if and when that situation changes.  Keep in mind that, in the case of new recruits, we're looking at more than a year before any of them hit the streets as fully-qualified officers and that the CMPD anticipates as many as 20 retirements within the next 18 months.

Back to the breakfast...

Chief Gazsi expressed gratitude for the use of the Huntington Beach helicopter, even though it's in a limited capacity.  He explained to the audience that, because he has spent virtually all his law enforcement life working in Newport Beach before becoming Chief of Police in Costa Mesa, the A.B.L.E. program was always part of his professional experience so he clearly understood the value of that program and was sorry to see it be disbanded.  He apparently mentioned visionary chiefs before him - Roger Neth, Dave Snowden and Bob McDonnell of Newport Beach - who created, nurtured and understood the value of that program.

Gazsi apparently was very complimentary to his boss, City CEO Tom Hatch and for the support he gets from the City Council.  He mentioned how valuable it is to have men like Interim Fire Chief Tom Arnold - also a Newport Beach veteran with whom he had a long working relationship - as peers on the job.

He apparently also spoke of new technological advances that will soon be launched to help provide the community with more information more rapidly.  Some of those were a "crime mapping" tool to show crime hot spots in real time and a tool that displays crime statistics by geographic area, both of which will be available to residents for online access.  He also mentioned something about software called NIXEL that provides an application for smart phones that will permit receipt of alerts by the public.  I may be getting this garbled since it's coming from a few sources, but it all sounds pretty exciting and forward-thinking.

Personally, I think Costa Mesa is very lucky to have Tom Gazsi as our police chief.  Since taking the job a year ago he has become a calming influence on the department, has implemented structural changes that seem to more effectively utilize the available manpower and has shown the mature, strong leadership so necessary during this stressful time.

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Anonymous Council Supporter said...

We are lucky that we have CEO Hatch and his staff and the current City Council that made this great choice for hiring Chief Gazsi to run our police department.

7/21/2012 05:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Watchman said...

Council Supporter said...
"We are lucky that we have CEO Hatch and his staff and the current City Council that made this great choice for hiring Chief Gazsi to run our police department."

Broken clocks are right twice a day.

7/21/2012 09:03:00 PM  
Anonymous S-Kelevra said...

All this proposed crime mapping and citizen alert technology does little, when the police department is severely under staffed, and the few officers remaining at CMPD have computer hardware and software that was 5 years out of date when it was purchased. It's now obsolete, failing, and can't be repaired or replaced.

With the proposed cuts in pay and benefits for our officers, it's hard to offer jobs for prospective new officers. They got 1,000 applicants, but out of that, just ONE was suitable for the job, and they couldn't hire him anyway, for the reasons listed in the article. With the current city council doing its best to run CMPD into the ground, the only lateral officers and new recruits and reserve officers who will come to this city, are those who can't get hired anywhere else.

7/22/2012 12:03:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

It's my understanding that those 1,000 have NOT yet been vetted - that's why they shut off the spigot. Yes, likely there will be a very small percentage who qualify for the next step, but that's only speculation now. It's an expensive and time-consuming process.

7/22/2012 12:24:00 AM  
Anonymous HereWeGo! said...


CMPD won't make it to 2014. The wheels are already falling off the cart.

What does a CMPD with only 80 officers and a few reserves look like? Be careful of what you ask for!

7/22/2012 09:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Marshall Krupp said...

The sign of a true leader is one who has integrity and is willing to stand in the fire and speak the truth knowing that there will be pushback and consequences, but does so for the higher good of all. I am willing to stand in the heat of the fire and tell it like I see it.

Police Chief Tom Gazsi and Fire Chief Tom Arnold are “in-the-field-leaders” that public service is all about. I have spoken with these two men and met with sworn police officers and firefighters. They are second to none. In this difficult climate of financial instability and political ideology and rhetoric, Chief Gazsi and Chief Arnold are managing men and women who are in harm’s way every hour they are on duty. All the statistics and all of the controversies cannot and should not take priority over the public safety needs of the Community and protecting those who protect us. We as Costa Mesan’s cannot dismiss public safety over personal political aspirations, agendas, and ideology.

I can point to a number of decisions, words and actions of the current majority of the City Council of Righeimer, Mensinger, Monahan and Bever which appears to show that they are in the mode of dismantling the public safety programs of the City… the Costa Mesa Police Department and the Costa Mesa Fire Department. Although they will not admit to it, their actions speak louder than their words.

There is no question that Costa Mesa government cannot do business as usual. I would hope that everybody would agree with that. The police and firefighters are just as responsible for finding the new way to conduct business as is the City’s Administration, the City Council, and the members of the Community. But we need to do this in a collaborative way. Not through intimidation, alienation, threats, bullying, hidden agendas, misleading facts, political agendas, partisan ideologies and outsider influences which has been the modus operandi of the current majority of the City Council.

This is our City. It is not Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Irvine or any other City in Orange County. Our Community cannot and should not be ground zero and the target battleground for the OC GOP, the National GOP or any other outside political organization. And, the current majority of the City Council including McCarthy with other political aspirations should not use their power and privilege of their City seats to stand on a soapbox for political gain.

If the current tactics of the City Council majority continues we would potentially lose the fine men and women of the Police and Fire Departments, and sadly we could lose the skills, talents, experience and commitment of Police Chief Tom Gazsi and Fire Chief Tom Arnold. Is this what our City is to look like in the future?

Marshall Krupp
Candidate for Costa Mesa City Council

7/22/2012 10:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Troll Tracker said...

A lot of weird posts originating from a certain place in Orange..

7/22/2012 01:59:00 PM  
Anonymous beenaround said...

Mr. Krupp, you can point to a number of decisions.........but you didn't name one? Oh, ok. Every year we have a new face that never seems to have done anything for the community run for council. They come and speak at council during election time then lose and disapear till the next election. Some are serial candidates who run year after year like Chris Steel and Dan Worthington. Losing means nothing to them. It is the chance to criticize they like. Oh, they did a ride along, spent an hour with some staff, and are now experts on everything. We "could" lose Gazsi and Arnold you say? Boy there is a strong statement. We "might" not lose them either. The chiefs seem to come and go through the years so yes, eventually we will lose them. Gazsi is the best in years. Who is to say another good one won't come along in the future? More specifics in the future please.

7/22/2012 03:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike M said...

What platform did Mensinger run on when he got on council again? Oh yeah, that's right... he didn't have to run. But he was a big booster for EHS football, so that got him in. Wasn't cronyism or anything like that.

7/22/2012 07:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Follow Charlie McCarthy's Strings said...

Krupp is upsetting the bad guys. They must have something to hide.

7/22/2012 08:05:00 PM  

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