Thursday, June 11, 2015

Feelin' Safer In Costa Mesa? You Shouldn't!(Amended)

Over the past several years - ever since Jim Righeimer came to town - things have not gone especially well for the Costa Mesa Police Department and the community it serves.

We've seen a steady stream of police chiefs, both permanent and interim, come and go.  Each situation was different for those men, but with each departure came more unrest and angst within the ranks of the CMPD.

When Interim Chief Steve Staveley left in frustration four years ago he did so while tossing a grenade over his shoulder - his best professional opinion, based on four decades of law enforcement leadership, that the elected leadership of our city was "incompetent, unskilled and unethical".  And, it turns out he was exactly right.

Your mayor and mayor pro tem have sued the men and women of the Costa Mesa Police Department.  Gary Monahan has dragged his feet in negotiations on a new contract for that group although they've been working without one for a year.  The negotiators for the City have not responded to the offer placed on the table by the Costa Mesa Police Association last October!  And we've had cops leave in droves to earlier-than-planned retirements or to other venues because of the toxic environment created by the current council majority.

When Chief Tom Gazsi, an outstanding law enforcement leader and a man of impeccable character with more than three decades of law enforcement behind him in our neighboring city of Newport Beach, retired as Costa Mesa Police Chief to accept the position of Deputy Chief of the Los Angeles Port Police, he did so having done his very best to rebuild the department that was decimated by early retirements and lateral moves to other jurisdictions.  He left never having had as much as an acknowledgement from his boss, CEO Tom Hatch, that a comprehensive document - the Attrition Report -  he submitted to Hatch nine months earlier had even been read, much less acted upon.  That document provided a very specific road map to get the CMPD out of the doldrums and back to the once lofty status it held as a "destination" police department.

The results of the short-sighted management of public safety resources in this city has now come home to roost.  The April, 2015 Part 1 Crime Overview chart is now posted on the City website.  You can read it at this link, HERE, along with several years of similar information.  Let me save you some time.  Below is a chart I cut and pasted showing April, 2015, February, 2015 (the next most recent chart available) and December, 2014.  You will notice that Part 1 Crimes - the biggies - are up nearly 50% in April.  They were up nearly 40% in February! (Click on the image to enlarge it)
These are tough times to be a cop anywhere, but in California in particular.  The impact of AB 109 - the prison "realignment" legislation that put criminals back out on the street earlier than they should be - and Prop. 47, which reduced the designation of certain crimes which resulted in shorter penalties, if any, for some of them - have dramatically impacted law enforcement policies and practices throughout the state.  Combine that with what certainly appears to be, in some segments of our broader society, a "hardening" against law enforcement in general, and you have a tough job made even tougher.  And, of course, here in Costa Mesa where our police staffing is running at least 30% below what is necessary to effectively protect the community, the situation is amplified.

Folks, there's just no way to sugar-coat this situation.  The City of Costa Mesa is demonstrably less safe today because of three men - Mayor Steve Mensinger, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and lame-duck Councilman Gary Monahan.  Their animosity toward the men and women of the CMPD and the policies they've implemented that reflect that vindictive, short-sighted attitude have directly affected the safety of every single resident and visitor to our city.  Today we operate with a diminished Detective Bureau, no Narcotics Squad, a Gang Detail that's nearly non-existent, no K-9 support, a half-dozen motorcycles sitting dormant because we don't have the staff to put them in the field and, of course, no A.B.L.E helicopter support.  This comes at a time when we have more transients in our city, more parolees and probationers and an exploding number of rehab homes.  Look at those crime stats....


The 2015-2016 Municipal Budget will be voted on next Tuesday, June 16, June 23, 2015 during a special council meeting at City Hall.  It's time for the members of the public to step up and tell your elected leaders that you've had enough!  It's time for the council to follow the best advice available -  from former chiefs Roger Neth, Dave Snowden, Steve Staveley and Tom Gazsi AND from the consultants hired four years ago to assess the CMPD and make recommendations.  If YOU don't speak up they're going to assume that you think their policies are just fine and dandy.  They are not!  If you can't make it to the council meeting Tuesday evening, call Tom Hatch's office or send an email to the council letting them know how you feel.  There's cash in the budget to fund more cops - we're down to fewer than 100 officers available for duty today and are hiring as fast as the system can accommodate - it just needs to be prioritized. (NOTE: The budget adoption meeting has been scheduled for a SPECIAL meeting on June 23rd.  It seems the Mayor Pro Tem will NOT be at this Tuesday's regular meeting, so the budget will have it's own special event the following week!)

Or, even better, on Sunday, June 14, 2015, from 2-4 p.m. your mayor - shown here strolling past the makeshift memorial for Huy Pham outside City Hall last March - is holding another of his "Meet The Mayor" events, HERE, and this time, fortuitously, he's going to be joined by new Police Chief Rob Sharpnack on the 5th Floor of City Hall.  This seems like a PERFECT opportunity for you and a few dozen of your friends and neighbors to take advantage of his hospitality to ask him and the new chief how they plan to address crime in our city.  You can ask about the parolees and probationers, or the sober living homes, or the gangs, or the graffiti, or why we have lost so many cops... all that important stuff.

Stand up and Speak up!  Now is the time!

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Anonymous Disgusted Republican said...

These stats coupled with the report the city has kept from the public for some time (until a private citizen made numerous attempts to get a copy and finally had to go public with this fact at a city council meeting) go hand in hand. Crime is WAY up in our city because the criminals of all types know we basically have no police force to stop them in their criminal activities whether it's drug dealing, burglary, theft, etc. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out. Nor does it take a rocket scientist to know who is DIRECTLY responsible for this happening - the current CCM. And this is just one of a multitude of malfeascent acts they have done that has greatly harmed our city. We need to show up in droves on Tuesday (like Monday's PC meeting) to let them know we are mad as hell and NOT going to take it (or them) ANYMORE!

6/11/2015 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Disgusted Republican said...

Geoff...just wondering-do all 5 cc members have to be present for the budget vote, or was this special cc mtg called just so the RIGmeister would be there to ensure the CCM would have their 3 votes to pass their smoke and mirrors travesty of a budget?

6/11/2015 01:53:00 PM  
Anonymous CM Resident said...

Political theater, there is nothing that can be done to increase hiring efforts. Stand up and speak up for what?

All local agencies are looking for laterals and new hires, it is no secret that recruiting police officers is getting more difficult nationwide. Yet, somehow, we are - and the cream of the crop as well.

6/11/2015 02:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

Stand up and let the council know that it is dumb to spend money relandscaping medians that were just redone recently instead of fixing up or replacing a shabby fire station.

Stand up and let the council know that it is irresponsible to spend money faster than we are taking it in.

Stand up and ask the council why it costs a million bucks to remodel a room at city hall.

There's plenty to stand up for.

6/11/2015 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Well, CM Resident, I suppose we could stand up and speak up about the stupid, vindictive things the Mayor and the Mayor Pro Tem have done since attaining office. Those things have created the very problem we're talking about - the shortage of skilled police officers. Yes, we're hiring some excellent NEW officers - note that word, "new".... Police work requires EXPERIENCE to be done well. That comes with time on the job, regardless the tools we provide. We ARE NOT successful hiring laterals because of the atmosphere created by the current elected majority on the council. To deny that tells us you are either not paying attention, or that you're so fully in their camp that you cannot see the facts before you.

6/11/2015 10:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Teresa Drain said...

CM Resident,

Yes, all agencies ARE ALWAYS looking for laterals and new hires (as a normal course of business). Costa Mesa has a harder time ATTRACTING laterals over our neighbors. A quick look at the available LOCAL jobs shows:
Santa Ana PD is looking to fill 8 positions (yet 6 are in criminology, not "boots on the ground");
Irvine is looking for ONE lateral or academy graduate;
Huntington Beach has filled (closed) their positions for recruits;
Newport is looking for one each: Intern, Cadet, Academy Graduate and one Lateral.

The recent article about a deputy shortage in LA clearly states that the OC Sheriff department is close to full staffing:

but the LA Sheriff shortage has to more to do with jail staffing vs. patrol. You can take the jail staffing requirement out of the recruiting efforts for Costa Mesa.

And yes, Costa Mesa is attractive to new recruits, because our high standards and quality of training is widely recognized. Completing our training program makes these recruits highly sought after by other agencies. So, when looking at the numbers of our excellent new officers, we also must look at how difficult it is to retain them. Look at the attrition rates.

Political Theater indeed.

6/12/2015 10:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

Political Theater:

Riggy dressing up as a giant rooster (complete with comb-over) and squawking about "unfunded liabilities, unions, unions, unions, my personal trainer, unions, what a great success the 60th was, the motels my buddies still can't buy for cheap, unions, how my officemate is really a good guy, and why it's none of your business where I go on vacation, even if some people think it's an event sponsored by hate groups."

Mensy dressing up as himself and saying "Ug. Brand strong. Me in charge."

6/12/2015 02:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Disgusted Republican said...

Arthur - Hilarious! You nailed it!

6/12/2015 07:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Robin Leffler said...

One of our long time senior officers made a lateral transfer to Beverly Hills - sounds like he did it for the money and maybe a promotion? Well... he signed up for a longer commute and less pay! That says a lot doesn't it? He wanted to work in a supportive environment, more than he wanted the money or the convenience of working in Costa Mesa.

6/14/2015 12:50:00 PM  

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