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Sunday, July 28, 2013

We can't buy crime protection

We have to care enough to engage

We still hear demands from well-meaning people to “hire more police to drive the crime down.” We've mentioned that what is proven to work in diminishing crime comes under the “Broken Window Theory.” 

Crime reduction requires that the community cares. Notice that the term is “cares,” not whines and complains. Knee jerk demands for solutions that don’t work are not “caring.”

Instead of 130 officers

If we could increase our police force to 22,000 sworn officers we’d have a police-to-population ratio of 1:5, like the state prisons. If we could afford only 7,850 officers we’d have a ratio of 1:14 similar to the average for county jails throughout the country. Or if we were so parsimonious that we only hired 3,235 officers we’d have a ratio of 1 officer to 34 residents, like Orange County’s jail.

Even 1:5 isn't crime free

Reports from California state prisons show that a ratio of one-to-five doesn’t stop rape, murder, extortion, or terrorism. A department spokesman, Jeffrey Callison, said in an interview that there is no evidence that a larger staff could have prevented the recent violence. “I don’t think it’s possible to connect the two,” he said. Callison said the recent violence is not a trend, it’s just a flare-up.

So, violence and rioting are expected as “flare-ups” when the ratio of law enforcement to population is one to five. Note, though, that these populations can’t leave because they don’t like the neighbors or abhor the neighborhood. There is zero community pride and caring, in fact the opposite is in effect. Crime -- and attempted crime -- is rampant.

And, at OC Jail there is no shortage of larceny and violent crime. They have a much higher officer-to-resident radio than Costa Mesa, but, again, the residents don't want decreased crime or increased beautification.

Knee jerks solutions -- aren't

There are no easy solutions to crime; we can’t buy crime protection. The City has to care, and that caring is reflected when citizens participate in making Costa Mesa safer.If someone is prowling the cars in a church parking lot and a citizen calls, the police investigate, and crime decreases. If we hire another cop we get a slightly-improved chance of catching the car prowler.

Residents participate and the City gets safer

Our Neighborhood Watch groups learn how to call, and when. Neighbors watch out for each other. The graffiti is covered promptly. Property owners are encouraged -- and now forced by wallet-assault -- to clean and maintain their property.

Our Police Department is doing effective, proactive police work. It is operating efficiently. It is using advanced technology. And, more and more officers have been moved to the street. (Their administrative and technical assignments were transferred to non-sworn employees.)

Just the facts

We can look at selected numbers and scream “the sky is falling.” Or we can embrace reality and feel pride in Costa Mesa’s Police Department, civilian staff, and City Council (the City’s “Board of Directors”).
As Sergeant Joe Friday said so often on a TV show, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

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