Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fewer Cops Equals More Crime

As you may have read in a previous post, my Eastside Neighbors threw a wonderful picnic last Sunday.  Lots of fun chatting with new and old friends and watching all those happy children playing games and eating slabs of watermelon... a good time.
However, during the day I had a chance to chat with some folks who are not particularly happy with how things are going in our fair city.... some of those have been the victims of crimes recently and they're beginning to ask questions about why this seems to be happening all of a sudden.
For example, one person at the picnic told me that there's been a recent rash of car burglaries on the Eastside over the past few days.  In fact, he emailed me a photo he took of one car, apparently the day after the driver's side window was smashed and the contents of the car taken.  According to reports, these seem to be crimes of opportunity.
Another fellow - a long-time resident who lives just a couple blocks from me - had his home burglarized during a very narrow window in time when he and his wife were both out on their exercise routines.  And this was a strange crime... the thief took some cash, but not a single piece of the wife's jewelry, which he had dumped on their bed.  However, he DID take new and in-use toothpaste tubes and men's toiletries!

It's hard to know what's causing this spike in these crimes, but it's common knowledge that since our neighbors in Newport Beach have cracked down on rehab homes several have opened up in Costa Mesa - and particularly in the Eastside neighborhoods where this crime is now occurring.  We need more information to confirm that link, but....
We already know that crime is up - WAY UP - in the north part of town.  Diane Hill, via her United Neighbors email blast, provides a periodic update on crimes in that part of town that really gets our attention.  You can read more at her website, HERE.  Our friends in Mesa Verde, Mesa North, Halecrest and Mesa del Mar are reporting similar auto burglaries.  I suspect we're going to be hearing more about crime numbers city-wide very soon.  We just hope Mayor Eric Bever can handle the news.  Some will recall that a year or so ago when interim crime stats were presented he got all huffy and demanded better numbers!

I do know that the City head count is down to 433 - it was 611 two years ago.  I do know that the Costa Mesa Fire Department would be unable to implement Interim Chief Tom Arnold's restructuring plan today because his department is nine (9) staffers short of the number required to implement it.  I also know that the CMPD is operating beyond thin these days, which has required the extraction of our two School Resource Officers (SROs) back into  other assignments.  The CMPD is now working with many fewer officers than the 131 authorized by this council.  And that number is approximately 20% below the staffing levels recommended by consultants they hired and by at least one former police chief.  In fact, it is my understanding that the actual number of sworn officers on the job today is smaller than when former Chief Dave Snowden took over the department more than two decades ago!  I do know that we now have several officers recovering from on-duty injuries and that we also recently lost a couple others who departed the department.  I do know that agencies like Anaheim, Newport Beach, Irvine and Huntington Beach are actively recruiting for THEIR police departments.  And, I DO KNOW that it takes from 12 to 18 months to recruit, qualify and train a new police officer, so even if our current council got over their hissy fit about not permitting ANY public safety staffers to be hired until a 2nd pension tier is in place, we are more than a year away from having those cops on the street.  Feeling safer today?  I'm sure not!

Later this afternoon the City Council will hold a study session devoted entirely to the budget, with the goal of being able to cobble together something approaching a balanced budget before the council meeting on June 19th, when they are supposed to have a document ready to approve.  I expect we may be hearing just how many jobs will be lost in order to fill potholes and pave alleys on the accelerated schedule Jim Righeimer seems to be demanding.  I find myself wondering how many residents will actually show up this afternoon beginning at 4:30 to address their concerns to the council.  I guess we'll see.

I hope any of you reading this that are concerned about the public safety of this city will take the time to let your council know where YOU feel their budget priorities should be as they prepare this new document.  Give them a call, write them an email or step to the speaker's podium and let them know how you feel.  And don't feel too bad if it seems like they're ignoring you... they do that all them time.  And there lies the problem...

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Anonymous Costa Bell said...

Every department in the City has had employee number diminished to levels unheard of in the past. Call any deparment on a random day and it will go to voice-mail. The City Clerk's office is a mess, Development Services has leaders and no underlings. Public Services staffing levels is at 50% below 2 years ago, Executive offices- Added staff including three secretaries who do nothing but open mail for the City Council. Crime up? Not a suprise so is lack of service and customer service. Bell is a notch above at this point.

6/12/2012 05:05:00 AM  
Anonymous It's only just begone:: said...

I'm glad you enjoyed a peaceful Sunday. You were lucky. Sunday was extremely busy for the CMPD, all kinds of criminal activities that are NOT being reported by the DP. Does not surprise me. Just glad you guys were not at Schiffer park were some guy got stomped by 20-30 gang bangers. And this is just the beginning of the summer season.

6/12/2012 08:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Grateful Res said...

To our excellent people at CMPD:
You are very much appreciated by the vast majority of the residents of this city. Please hang in there and continue to do your best. Help is on the way.

6/12/2012 09:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Tamar said...

Whether or not the School Resource Officers will return to duty in the fall, their early departure at the end of this school year is a red flag—or a five-alarm fire--for all of us. While a few weeks at the end of school may not be a big deal, the need to pull the officers from their posts is an alarming signal as to how thinly our Costa Mesa police force has been stretched in order to achieve a very bare minimum of patrol officers, with response times increasing.

This most recent redeployment is on top of cuts to or elimination of a number of important police details: gang, narcotics and vice, detective services, and probably others. It seems foolish to reduce the preventive policing that reduces the need for the immediate-action 911 calls as well as the “routine” calls for service. Narcotics and gang prevention officers can stop crimes before they happen. When detectives identify a criminal, that person can be prevented from committing another crime, but if we have cut detectives, the same person is still out on the street, continuing as a threat to community safety.

On a related note, the Daily Pilot reported that the city expects to receive about $350,000 less in traffic and parking tickets this year than last. While scofflaws may rejoice, those traffic tickets not issued can result in accidents causing greater loss of life, health, property and police time. Further, that $350,000 could more than pay for two additional police officers that are sorely needed not just for traffic enforcement, but for other emergencies as well.

6/12/2012 09:49:00 AM  
Anonymous SQUAD 51 said...

I was talking to one of Costa Mesa's officers the other day and he said crime is going up because when a dept is understaffed, criminals that are not caught (whether it's due to longer response times or a decrease in investigative capability) continue to go about their work doing what they do.
Catching them during or after a crime, stops them from doing it again tomorrow. It is afterall, their job. You either take them off the street or they continue to work and that's called an increase in crime.
CMPD's ability to be as effective as in the past at doing that is being affected because all they can do now (with current staffing levels) is what they call chasing the radio.
When the calls get backed up (and they are), people will end up waiting for an officer when they need one.
When PO'd citizens start showing up at counsil meetings to express their unhappiness with a personal experience like this, will the mayor just tell them "tough" ?

And yes, those other cities are hiring and they are happy to take Costa Mesa's experienced officers.
By the end of this year (especially depending on election results) this dept could go way below critical staffing and basically become barely functional.
If another dozen officers leave (wait until november) Righeimer is going to be forced to find out that already trained and experienced officers don't want to work in his Costa Mesa.
Who's he going to call... The National Guard?

6/12/2012 10:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Level the playing field said...

Tamar - sadly your comments are logical and make sense --therefore they will be ignored by the councilMEN. Those four have no desire to serve the Public, they only strive to make their personal lives better. Sadly their efforts are supported by the CEO and the hired "consultants" who eventually become first tier employees. As Mr. West has said "REMEMBER IN NOVEMBER"

6/12/2012 10:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Tom Egan said...

Speaking of potholes ...

Suppose you were a councilman of a city. The size of the city doesn’t matter – it could be as small as Bell, or as large as Chicago, or Mexico City. And further suppose you wanted to run for higher office and you knew you’d need lots of donations to your campaign fund.

If so, you might be tempted to arrange things so you could award contracts to businessmen who, through winks and nods, will have agreed to kick back part of their profits to your campaign. Clever, but not unheard of.

If you were even more clever (which you are), you might have them donate the $$ to tax-exempt political groups, or a fellow politician’s campaign, who would later donate the same amount of money to your campaign – effectively laundering the illicit contribution.

Now to find some contracts to hand out. Suppose that your city has some employees doing work – say, rehabilitating residential streets – that could be done by your friends in private business.

But there’s a complication: suppose you have a contract with city workers that prevents you from laying them off without going through a lot of red tape. But you need to get rid of the city workers so you could funnel the work to your business friends.

Here’s an idea that might help you reach your goal: Eliminate the part of the city Section that has been doing the work, and reassign the now jobless staff to other city jobs in the Division that have openings covered by budget. That way you wouldn’t have laid off anyone!

Of course, you’d want to publicly claim that you’ve just saved $$$$$ by eliminating city jobs. However, you wouldn’t want to spoil the glow by admitting that the same $$$$$ would now be spent out of another city pocket, say Capital Improvement Projects. Besides, people might wonder if there’s some chicanery going on if they realized pocket-shifting was going on for no apparent good reason.

But! you exclaim. I can’t do that because a General Law city has to follow state-mandated procedures. Procurements require competitive bidding, and my favorite contractor might not be lowest bidder … especially if he’s going to kickback some of his profit. What to do? What to do?

Well, here’s an idea. Draft a city charter that lets you give a contract to anybody you want without going through the red tape of competitive bidding. After all, a charter city is free to do anything it wants as long as it’s a municipal affair without state-wide concern.

After a few months of the state-required listening to your subjects, you’ll get your charter because you’ve cleverly salted it with provisions – say, for example, anti-union ones – that will appeal to your generally right-tilting electorate.

Congratulations! You’re done! You’ve set up a system to use city money to pay for your political campaigning. And nobody can accuse you of graft and corruption because you’ve insulated yourself by laundering the city money through private businesses and then through tax-exempt groups or somebody else’s campaign treasury.

Who says you can’t beat City Hall? Boy, are you clever! (Just don’t let anybody know about the money trail!)

6/12/2012 10:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Stop Complaining said...

Awww cut it out Tamar, don't you know it's more important to make believe we're fixing alleys? Do you have an alley inside your house? Write a letter to Mensy right away and tell him about it.

Have you ever been to Vegas? Well we have and it's lovely. We made contact with 14 new fast food places to put on Harbor. So there.

And sorry, there's no money left for cops- we needed it all for lawyers. How are you with a gun? For those who don't like guns we have ordered Victory Slingshots to use against criminals in the city. Call our 150K Facebook/website guy Mr. Lobdell and get yours today!

6/12/2012 10:45:00 AM  
Anonymous sign here said...

Egan for council!! then we can throw his ass in jail when his evil mind becomes evil action. because crooked things are always caught eventually huh tom? and he has one evil mind. hehe

6/12/2012 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger CM Resident said...

@ Tom Egan: so, for example a trash company, let's call them ATHENZZ, who wants to get business w/ Costa Mesa, could donate tens of thousands of dollars to a city official, lets call him Fizzheimlic, through another bogus organization, like the OC Taxrate Hikers Assoc., to help Fizzheimlic defend himself in a lawsuit, and in return get a street sweeping contract?

6/12/2012 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Angry White Man said...

Sure crime is up but at least we have nice sports fields and pop warner is $10,000 wealthier.

6/12/2012 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Crime Don't Pay said...

Crime numbers going up are not going to matter to this male dominated City Council, unless it effects them or their family.

6/12/2012 01:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Barry said...

Crime rate is actually going down. West fails to report that. Serious crime is down from last year. Property crime is up. Where is the report on lower violent crime rates. That's what people judge their leaders on. Way to go Council. I'm sure Mensinger and Monahan will be campaigning on that this election. They have my vote!

6/12/2012 02:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Tom Egan said...

To “sign here,”

Thanks for the laugh. My little story might seem evil-inspired, but try this on for size: Someone whose wisdom and experience I highly respect says – with no hint of humor – that the only time she’s surprised by politics is when she hasn’t been cynical enough.

I reluctantly tried it a few years ago and found it to be true. I wish it weren’t so, but you can’t beat experience. Especially the experience since the last election!

6/12/2012 02:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Tom Egan said...

To CM Resident,

I think you’ve got it! Your example of the ATHENZZ trash company is totally fictitious, of course, but it’s exactly how the system could work.

Welcome to the Cynics Club!

6/12/2012 03:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike M said...

So give us the numbers, Barry...

6/12/2012 03:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

Actually, and I hate to admit it, I think Barry is correct that violent crime is generally down. ***HOWEVER***, this council had nothing to do with that. Keep in mind it is very rare for someone to be the victim of a random crime of violence. Most violent crimes are committed by crooks who knew their victims.

You are much more likely to be a victim of a property crime such as burglary, theft, vandalism, identity theft, fraud, etc. Fraud and identity theft are out of control, not just in Costa Mesa, but everywhere. Fraud and ID theft are not FBI "part one crimes" therefore, they are not measured in official crime stats.

The council is partly responsible for the increase in crime in that CMPD cannot be as proactive as they used to be because of the arbitrary staffing levels this council imposed. It is much more effective to be proactive and catch crooks for dope crimes, burglary tools, possession of stolen credit cards, possession of stolen property, etc. than it is to react to crime reports, investigate and eventually make an arrest. When staffing is down, officers are saddled with more cold crime reports, calls for service while detectives are stuck with higher case loads and the inability to properly investigate those they do have because of a lack of resources.

While Barry may be technically correct regarding violent crime, the numbers of citizens being victimized by property crimes is increasing and there is no way for the council to escape some of the responsibility for this because they made those decisions.

6/12/2012 04:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Pro Tip said...

There are three factors important to understanding property crime.

First, there has to be a motivated offender; second, a suitable target; third there has to be the absence of suitable guardianship.

Violent crime in CM is down you say? Just wait for 2011-2012 stats and get back to us.

6/12/2012 04:16:00 PM  
Anonymous CM Whine Press said...

Why is "Barry," who is really Neanderthal Mensa, CM's "other blogger," spewing his propaganda here instead of in his own blog?

6/12/2012 04:18:00 PM  
Anonymous SQUAD 51 said...

Barry.... So let me get this straight. Reducing the number of police down to where response time is delayed has actually reduced "serious" crime.
The council according to you should take credit for this genious move and campaign on having made the city safer by getting rid of cops. Who would have ever thunk it? Except you of coarse.
You sir are truely... a flipp'n idiot.

6/12/2012 05:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Sam Grady said...

Barry is a troll. He does not have any factual numbers. I'm sure his aliases Phil, RickandJenn and BillandJenn will be here shortly to parrot what Barry says.

6/12/2012 06:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Fear Based Logic said...

Yes, let's have emotion driven logic ... where are facts?

Criminals are the source of crimes

6/12/2012 07:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Plato said...

If certain council members knowingly decrease law enforcement and crime rises as a direct result, are they accomplices?

6/13/2012 06:18:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Fear Based Logic wrote:
"Yes, let's have emotion driven logic ... where are facts?
Criminals are the source of crimes"


Less police = more criminals
More criminals = more crimes
More crimes = more reasons for Righeimer and friends to say the city is in crisis and needs their special (ed) solutions.

6/13/2012 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger CM Resident said...

@ Fear Based Logic (aka: jim fitzpatrick): there is a significant up-tick in crime on private property including on the Eastside. This is not "emotion" it's "fact". Your neighbors have been getting their homes burglarized, cars vandalized and broken into, etc.

It's v. simple: we need more cops to patrol our streets, catch the bad guys and in turn discourage more criminal activity.

Saying "criminals are the source of crimes" is completely non-sensical. What does that mean???

6/13/2012 12:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Same Same said...

There are neighborhoods in Newport Beach experiencing increased crime.

Is there Council to blame too? Or is the Council of Costa Mesa to blame for that as well?

6/13/2012 03:47:00 PM  
Anonymous sherryk1 said...

I'm glad to see more people are becoming aware of Fitzpatrick's inability to follow a logical argument but then debate it to no end. At the May CMSD Board meeting the Board approved giving money that accumulated in the trash reserve fund back to the ratepayers via lower trash rates. Fitzpatrick wants a discussion about better uses for the money, he mentioned using it to help the City with some of their needs. I must add Fitzpatrick's behavior was better than the last few meetings I attended. I am sure the videoing had something to do with that.

6/13/2012 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

No, Newport leaders understand the value of a skilled and sufficiently-staffed police department. And, they don't attempt to micro-manage the department, unlike Costa Mesa's council.

Costa Mesa is insufficiently staffed - probably by 20% - to do the job expected of them. The ONLY way to cover shifts is with overtime, for which they will be criticized by this council - the ones who created the situation in the first place.

6/13/2012 04:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Same Same said...

Why wouldn't public safety pay the employee share and develop a reformed 2nd tier so we can hire more public safety?

Seems reasonable.

Why isn't anyone at least sharing the blame?

6/13/2012 04:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Same Same said...


How do you then explain the same crime in Newport Beach?

6/13/2012 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Same Same,
I don't. I don't have the numbers to compare - from either city. I don't pay enough attention to Newport Beach to comment.

6/13/2012 08:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Shrek Tracker said...

Saem same = Shrek Fitzpatrick
Does he have a job?

6/13/2012 09:54:00 PM  

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