The protection and safety of residents and visitors is San Diego's top priority according to our City Charter. The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department and the San Diego Police Department work tirelessly and selflessly to perform these critical duties.
Police Helicopter Activity: The San Diego Police Department uses a variety of resources to prevent and respond to crime efficiently and effectively. In response to inquiries about the San Diego Police Department helicopter flying over District Three neighborhoods, I worked with Police Department to create a Frequently Asked Questions sheet, which contains helpful information about this important crime fighting tool.
Fire Engine Closures: Beginning February 6, 2010, eight fire engines are out of service every day. Called "rolling brown outs," these closures increase the amount of time it takes for our crews to reach you in an emergency. Every odd month, the fire engines from Fire Station 11 in Golden Hill and Fire Station 14 in North Park are both out of service, decreasing resources in those areas by half and also affecting service throughout the rest of the district. I will closely track response times and stay in close contact with both fire department leadership and the crews serving District Three about how these cuts are impacting our neighborhoods and our personnel.
Police Department Budget Cuts: The Police Department was not spared cuts to its budget. The loss of our Harbor Patrol, our mounted patrol, some of our canine units and many of our non-sworn police staff will have impacts. I will carefully monitor the situation and know you'll keep me apprised of any changes you see and feel on our streets. Let me know if you see areas that require our attention as we implement these reductions.
Crime Statistics: At the end of January 2010, San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne announced that crime was down 18% citywide in 2009, including the lowest number of homicides since 1972.
Return of Community Relations Officers: In response to community requests, I was proud to secure the return of three Community Relations Officers (CROs) to the neighborhoods of District Three in January, 2009. CROs use their familiarity with the people and properties in specific neighborhoods to directly address nuisances and crime trends proactively with the support of community members.
Prostitution: The San Diego Police Department aggressively addresses street prostitution, and they performed regular "Street Sweeps" in 2009 that resulted in the arrests of 60 suspects. While some may argue that more focus should be paid to violent crimes, it is equally important to address quality of life offenses. As a former member of the Mid-City Prostitution Impact Panel, I know that prostitution affects far more than the individual participants; it breeds other criminal activity. When lower-level offenses like prostitution are overlooked, the message is sent that an area consents to crime. In District Three, we know that nothing could be further from the truth!
Arrests Made: The San Diego Police Department stepped up efforts to address crime in Mid-City, resulting in 11 arrests and a demonstrable drop in violent crime in targeted areas. Council District Three neighborhoods are safer because SDPD Captain Lawrence McKinney and his division have taken criminals off our streets. Over a five day period in June 2009, the commanding officers deployed a number of resources to target areas in Mid-City that have been hit hard recently by violent crime. This action resulted in:
- 4 felony arrests
- 7 misdemeanor arrests
- 6 misdemeanor citations
- 15 traffic citations
- 6 impounded vehicles
- 86 field interviews
Emergency Medical Services: The City Council voted unanimously to recommend a new five year contract with San Diego Medical Services (SDMS) to continue to provide emergency medical services in the City. SDMS is a partnership between the Fire-Rescue Department and Rural/Metro ambulance.
New Fire-Rescue Chief: Javier Mainar was confirmed as the City of San Diego's new Chief of the Fire-Rescue Department on October 19, 2009. He has risen up the ranks in the department over his 29 year career, most recently holding the position of Assistant Chief. Chief Mainar was endorsed by his predecessor, Tracy Jarman, who announced her retirement in June after 25 impressive years of service.
Curfew Sweeps: The police department continues to partner with Cherokee Point Elementary School and numerous community organizations and agencies including our City's Gang Commission for youth curfew sweeps every month. There can be no excuse for children to be walking the streets of District Three after 10 p.m. These efforts have resulted in hundreds of Mid City youth – some as young as nine years old – being taken off the streets. I have participated in these curfew sweeps and can tell you without a doubt that they are saving lives and making our communities safer.
Fire Station Master Plan: The City finally has a Fire Station Master Plan which prioritizes building and renovation projects for a department that has 22 fewer stations than we should and appropriately lists improvements to the City Heights fire station and the replacement of the Hillcrest fire station as necessary upgrades.
While we will not build all 22 stations immediately, completion of the master plan was a big step forward. Funding of course is the biggest variable in the equation, and the City's return to the bond market may make these improvements possible sooner rather than later. It is critical that, as San Diegans, we realize just how few tools we've provided to our first responders and remedy that.
Working with Community Relations Officers Dean Thomas and Dave Tos, I hope we can take the wildly successful Talmadge Citizens on Patrol (TalCOP) program started and expand it to City Heights and Normal Heights. I also expect that the folks in North Park will soon have a new police storefront at 30th and El Cajon Boulevard where greater police visibility will aid in our crime prevention efforts and help with revitalization of the boulevard.
In addition to developing a long term strategy to fund implementation of the Fire Station Master Plan, this year I look forward to more closely linking our Fire-Rescue Department to groups like San Diego Canyonlands to ensure our urban canyons strike the right balance between being fire safe and environmentally strong. Proper brush management will allow our limited firefighting resources the best chance possible to protect lives, property and open space.