Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Proud Morning...

This morning, on a day scrubbed fresh by an early morning drizzle, the setting was perfect for a gathering of every member of the Costa Mesa Police Department for a "family" photograph - a preamble to the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the department later this year.
(click on photo to enlarge)
Just over two hundred men and women, sworn and civilian, gathered in the parking lot adjacent to Police Headquarters to have their presence as proud members of the CMPD recorded for posterity photographically as the department marks six decades of service to our community.
As I wandered around snapping candid images of the men and women who have become my friends over the past few years I felt great pride in them, and the way they go about doing their jobs.  Despite being vilified by certain elected leaders they just continue to exhibit true professionalism and do their jobs to the best of their ability.  Although their numbers have diminished significantly in recent years, those remaining and those few new members of the CMPD family go out every day to protect and serve us all.
I saw former Police Chief Roger Neth - badge #1 - join former Chief Dave Snowden - currently the Chief of Police for Beverly Hills - and current Chief Tom Gazsi with the men and women they hired, trained, nurtured and supported over many decades.  As I snapped this photo I found myself thinking how lucky this community has been to have such outstanding, forward-thinking law enforcement leaders.
I watched as the cadre of volunteers eagerly awaited their time to be properly positioned for the group photo, enthusiastically chatting with their co-workers.  Their tireless efforts certainly augment the duties of the civilian and sworn officers.
I had to smile as I saw officer Kha Bao, shown here with a co-worker, lined up at the tail end of the line of officers that would be placed on the benches by height.  There stood the man who accounted for more DUI arrests than any other officer - by far - bringing up the rear.  He and I joked about sharing being the little guy.
I smiled as the husband and wife teams within the department made sure their spouses looked good for the photo, straightening neckties and making sure their brass was properly shined.
I watched as a half-dozen men who perform as chaplains for the CMPD gathered and spoke with the men and women.  I found myself glad they have this kind of spiritual guidance available to them at this time in the history of the organization.
As I watched the professional photographers lined up each tier on the benches in the parking lot, then patiently got them properly staged for what will certainly be a photo for the ages, I thought a lot about what it takes to be a law enforcement officer, and particularly what it takes to be a law enforcement officer in THIS city at THIS time.  I venture to say that nowhere in our region - maybe our state - has there been a more difficult work environment for public safety staff than Costa Mesa over the past nearly three years.
On the heels of the economic downturn beginning in 2007 that froze salaries, a new council majority was elected that considered employees - and particularly law enforcement employees - not as partners and associates providing services to the public,  but as adversaries - impediments to the accomplishment of their political agendas.  The short-sighted fiscal management that prioritized potholes over public safety restricted timely hiring of officers to replace known anticipated retirements.  The toxic atmosphere created by that council majority caused many officers to seek positions elsewhere.  As of today, thirty-nine (39) officers have departed the CMPD since the beginning of 2010.  And the crime rate rises.
And, as I watched them mill around, waiting for the photo opportunity, I thought about the lawsuit filed by our mayor and mayor pro tem against them.  Yes, Jim Righeimer and Steve Mensinger will say they sued the "union", not the cops.  That, of course, is a steaming pile of horse manure!  The men and women of the CMPD ARE the association!  They are officers who go to work every day with that bogus lawsuit in the back of their minds.
As a member of the community, this morning I was proud of the men and women of the CMPD, and of their leadership team that directs a diminished staff to keep us all safe.  I worry about their future, and ours, because it is very likely that we will be able to place fewer than 100 sworn officers in the field in the very near future.  Despite their skill, professionalism and their will to serve us, it seems virtually impossible to properly police a city of more than 110,000 people with such meager resources.  For that you can thank your mayor and mayor pro tem.
Thanks to the men and women of the Costa Mesa Police Department for their efforts on our behalf.  I'm sure they know that many people out here in the community appreciate their efforts - and have their backs.
Thanks to our friends in Newport Beach for covering our turf for this event.  It's always nice to have good neighbors, isn't it?

Labels: , , , , ,


Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

Thanks, Geoff. This was hte heart smile I needed at the end of a long day. And thanks to all the men and women of the CMPD (past and present.

10/29/2013 05:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Geoff, many of us share your each and every thought and comment. We are extremely proud of these men and women all the way down to the volunteers.

Thank you CMPD .

10/29/2013 05:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Tom Egan said...

One omission, Pot Stirrer: You credit only two councilmen -- Righeimer and Mensinger -- for the vulnerable state of the police force. Gary Monahan deserves a mention, as he has been the enabling third vote throughout the reign of error.

We must never forget Skosh Monahan's key part in causing the convulsions we've suffered and will continue to suffer for years to come.

Righeimer may be a carpetbagger who serves overweening ambition, not the stepping stone city he happens to be in.

But Skosh is the longtime resident, local restaurateur, and councilmember who, over many terms, was a good and faithful servant of the people, only to throw away his legacy to gain ... what?

We report, you decide.

10/29/2013 11:17:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Cmon Geoff, you have a WWII mentality, it's either "us" or "them." I've seen it in many folks. The POA represents the police, yes, but does not necessarily reflect the views of all police they represent.

10/30/2013 06:53:00 AM  
Blogger valan2 said...

Thanks, Geoff, for this tribute to a great Police Department - both individually and collectively. I feel privileged to have known some of the members of the CMPD, and am sad that so many have left or are about to leave. I'm even sadder that some departures were not to pursue better opportunities elsewhere (as used to be the case), but to get away from a toxic environment in the city they have served so well for so long. Thanks to all past and present members of the CMPD for their service to the residents, businesses and visitors of Costa Mesa.

10/30/2013 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Well, James, since I was born during WWII, it's no surprise that you feel that way. Actually, you cannot separate the men and women of the CMPD from the association that represents them, since it is made up exclusively of the rank and file officers. That dog doesn't hunt. Sue the CMPOA and you're suing the cops.

10/30/2013 10:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Terry Koken said...

Here's a repost of the one I messed up last night. My apologies for the truncated name:

Coming home from the Segerstrom hall concert of Friday, I ran into a DUI checkpoint on Bristol. Hadn't been drinking, so I had a little banter with the cop who stopped me: Turned out it was (I think) officer Bao. I asked him, "Did you get Jim Righeimer yet?" He was totally professional, and replied, "I can't discuss that, sir."

Wow. I have no doubt he was entirely professional when he administered Righeimer's sobriety check. THANK GOD we've got cops like him in Costa Mesa. And thank
God for the rest of the force.

I reckon Righeimer will call a hippie when next he gets into trouble; too much the fool to call the cops.

Saw the hit piece on me that Mike Harmanos pointed out. I guess I must be having some effect, after all; used to be, they just ignored my little ditties. It's really nice to know you're disliked. Means you're at least somewhat effective. Short list of viewers, though. Maybe it'll go viral...

10/30/2013 06:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

"Saw the hit piece on me that Mike Harmanos pointed out."

It's allegedly by the dunce Mora. I think he's jealous that you worked your whole life and have a nice retirement, and he has to settle for being an ocgop bootlicker.

10/31/2013 09:07:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home