Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ignorance is Bliss - but Deadly

I have spent some time over the last few days reading the comments to the last post and watching the goings on in San Diego. The response to my last post was amazing in that people outside our realm are starting to ask the right questions. The mayor is having trouble controlling the spin and clearly is feeling the heat. His policy of controlling who can speak to the press and what is said is beginning to create questions as other public safety incidents occur.

Friday, a man died in a fire at an apartment building at the corner of 22nd and Broadway. The fire station a couple blocks away was closed as a result of the city mandated "Brown Out," as a budget savings mechanism. The first fire engine to arrive came from Barrio Logan, not the Golden Hill station a couple blocks away. The first "fire truck" to arrive, was on scene within a minute of dispatch. The trucks operator could not get the ladder to work (one of the young, enthusiastic new fire fighters?) and was not capable of getting water on the fire (fire trucks carry ladders and equipment for rescue ONLY). The second truck (Fire Engine) arrived about four and a half minutes later and began the assault of the fire (fire engines carry hoses and pumping abilities to put water on the fire). The inability of the first truck to get a ladder to the roof, slowed the ability to vent the roof and fight the fire. Response times across the city are on the rise and in time a fire fighter will end up getting seriously injured or killed as a result. The spokesperson for the department did his best to belay blame and down play the lack of an engine company in Golden Hill. The president of the Fire Fighters Union was not so protective of the city.

The events of the last few weeks are but the beginning of what is sure to be more deaths and serious injuries to members of the public. The ignorance created by false and misleading information from politicians; a lax press and a public in denial, will take years to undo. The mayor's failed policies and destruction of public safety has single handily turned San Diego from one of the safest cities in America, to one that is no longer a safe place for anyone. The systematic elimination and removal of officers from task forces; the elimination of support personnel; the reduction of investigative positions; the exodus of over 400 experienced members of the department; and the lack of any real hiring, has rendered the men and women of the San Diego Police Department incapable of doing the job expected of us. This is not due to a lack of ability, desire or willingness, but more a result of no longer being able to do more with less. Don't you hate hearing that phrase; "Do more with less?"

The public expects the same level of service they have become accustomed . The problem is simply a matter of having our hands tied and our limbs cut off. Take as an example; a service area that five years ago had a Detective Sergeant, five Detectives, and Investigative Aide to investigate reported crime and no less than five patrol officers and a patrol Sergeant in the field at any given time; now being policed by two detectives and often no more than three officers and a field Sergeant. The service area shares a Detective Sergeant; the Investigative Aide has been replaced with a volunteer (can't wait for the first court appearance) and three detectives who retired or transferred were never replaced. This service area is a growing area where there is still new housing being built and the population has grown by leaps and bounds over the past seven years.

We have eliminated our horse patrol and harbor unit; reduced the number of canine units and moved patrol officers from field duties into positions whose duties were performed by the now eliminated civilian support person. The smoke is thinning out and the mirrors quickly loosing their luster as critical incidents occur and the ability of public safety in San Diego to respond, exposed. Minimum staffing for patrol officers has been cut to unsafe and unacceptable levels throughout the city. The fire department has resorted to rolling brown outs, closing up to eight (8) fire stations daily to save money. Life Guards are now filling the hole left by the loss of the SDPD Harbor Unit, at the expense of life guards in towers and available for water and surf rescues, expanding their area of responsibility to as much as 50% on some beaches.

If history is any indication, as we move closer to the summer months, crime will increase and the level of violence will escalate. While many will have the public believe crime is at an all time low, reality is, crime is increasing. The apathy of victims, coupled with the inability of officers and citizens to connect in a timely manner, have resulted in fewer crimes being reported. Residential and commercial thefts of all type (Burglary, Grand Theft, Petty Theft, Embezzlement, Extortion, Auto Burglary) are epidemic in virtually every community of San Diego. Citizen apathy has resulted in many to just clean up the mess and move on. Many will tell you they believe nothing will come of reporting their crime, while others will tell you they do not want to report the crime to insurance for fear of higher premiums. Then there are those who will attempt to make a report only to fail in their attempts. The victim will be referred to the telephone Report Unit, where they will be placed in the Que, which at any given time could contain 300-500 victims waiting ahead of them. After waiting several days, the victim moves on and no report is completed.

The elephant in the room right now is the fear of many officers; who is going to be the officer killed because of these cuts? The lack of adequate and safe staffing and the lack of experience has in the past contributed to more officer deaths in San Diego than any city in America. In the 1970's and 80's we lost 12 officers in rapid succession. We spent years building a department that provided for a safe citizenry and at the same time expanding and improving training that allowed for fewer officer injuries and deaths. The use of canines, SWAT, air support, less than lethal weapons and adequate staffing of experienced officers, contributed to this safety and security. We have fewer experienced officers in the field; fewer canines; and now we hear one helicopter is grounded for required maintenance the city is balking at paying for. The fuse has been lit and we are all waiting for the result.

When is the public going to understand the dangers facing them as a result of the cuts to public safety in San Diego? Ignorance is bliss until someone dies. Who will it be?


Anonymous said...

"...turned San Diego from one of the safest cities in America, to one that is no longer a safe place for anyone."

Oh give my a break Sparky. No longer safe for anyone??? please... Your weekly dose of gloom and doom is getting tired. This effort to drag everyone down into your miserable world of self-loathing is embarrassing.

Fortunatley however, this department is filled with professional men and women who choose to see the glass half full rather than from your "the sky is falling" and "the world is coming to end" pessimism.

Bottomline, this is a still great organization that is going through some very tough finacial times, just like every other agency in the country. So give it a rest.

SDPD Detective said...

Looks like someone from the departments command staff is taking exception to the truth. I would never have used the words "self-loathing" to describe Sparky. I had to laugh out loud when I read this pitiful comment.

The blog post is spot on and could not be more accurate. The citizens are totally in the dark and do not have a clue how screwed up this department has become. Say all you want things are wonderful and safe and we can provide adequate safety to citizens; it does not make it so.

Bottom line is we USE TO BE a great organization. The tough financial times have contributed to the anger and frustration. The failed leadership of the police department and the above BS is what has contributed to the lost confidence among the rank and file.

The glass does not have enough liquid to even come close to being half full. See the glass for what it is whomever you are above; it is empty and saying it isn't so does not change reality.

Thanks Steve for the regular dose of reality and saying what need be said. Shame on the idiot commanding officer for thinking we are all stupid.

Anonymous said...

There is little doubt the first comment was a Captain or above who has been drinking Lansclownes Kool-Aid. I would love to see the POA ask thr membership if the should issue a vote of No Confidence in this chief and his minions. The rank and file see through all the BS. SDPD is in miserable shape and sinking fast.

Anonymous said...

"glass half-full"...that must be that "you should feel lucky you have a job" attitude I keep feeling from our command staff...

Anonymous said...

If the self-serving mayor would pay attention to what is really happening in the City, instead of kissing the "A's" of big downtown business, professional sports owners, the downtown library morons, organized crime figures in Little Italy and new city hall builders, San Diego would be much better place. If an issues comes up that doesn't line the pockets of the above the short little "A-Hole" won't give it the time of day. His personal intervention into criminal investigations on be half of his rich buddies in Little Italy is unbelieveable. This is just like the thieves before him, Zuchett, Louis and what's his name. They were just helping there friends in the "Titty Boom Boom Business." Where's Bonnie? She indicted John Torres and the others for doing their job for SDCERS, but is nowhere to be seen when the mayor is influencing investigations. Ya Sparky you're out of line in lighting a moral candle in this city of thieves. For you Mr. Anonymous, the sky is falling at this time and it's being allowed to happen because ignorant asses like you keep your head in the sand and are afraid to stand up for what is right! If these are "tough financial times," then say so, but also the moral fortitude to tell the truth to the public about the reality of their safety, lack of police officers and fireman available to serve and protect them at any given time. Honesty use to be the credo of police, but that to has gone by the way side because of lack of funding. The bottom line is that lack of funding in not a reason or excuse to lie and mislead the public.

See ya said...

A 'No confidence' vote is an oustanding idea. Got my vote! Sparky, keep up the great work and disregard the first idiots comments. People like him/her is the reason this department is in such miserable shape.

Anonymous said...

It is true that cities all across the country, especially in CA, are experiencing tough times. Nobody will argue that. However, many cities are chosing to make public safety a priority. Ours simply is NOT. Why cant the mayor or someone on the city counsel come out and ask that police and fire be except from these cuts? I really dont think this would hurt them come election time. We are playing a very dangerous game with no real minimum staffing levels for police and brownouts for the fire department. I agree with Sparky as well...someone is going to get hurt.

Anonymous said...

I heard last week that our 290 PC Unit was cut back by 100% with the latest round of cuts. With all of the media attention right now on this subject, how about someone drops the line on this? Just another example of how our mayor does not think public safety is a priority.