Santa Monica Against Crime 2018 Solutions by Collaboration

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When we collaborate, we speed up the process!

By Ron Wynn, Steve Sawaii and Fiora Aston.

Wow! A Standing-Room-Only crowd of over 250 of you attended our sixth annual SMAC. Thanks for contributing your voices and questions as we explored solutions at our most productive gathering yet! Thank you to our panel of community leaders, and Chief of Police Cynthia Renaud for sharing their expertise and ideas.

The police are working hard on many fronts. We also heard specific actions we can take to find solutions by collaboration. Because when we collaborate, we speed up the process. In our real estate business, we create Solutions by Collaboration for our clients every day. We are here to help do the same to preserve the lifestyle and safety in our community. If you would like to discuss any of the topics, please contact our WSA Real Estate office at (310) 899-3510.

Chief Renaud’s Top Safety Tips

The most important things each of us can do to improve the Safety & Security in our neighborhood

  1. Know your Neighbors – the better you know your neighbors, the more likely they are to watch out for your safety. They’re better able to identify when “something is not quite right” at your house – and alert you and the police
  2. Exchange contact information – so as soon as they see something suspicious, they can contact you. Whether you’re home or not
  3. See Something. Say Something – If you see something that feels suspicious, call your neighbor or the SMPD to report it
  4. Be informed – the police can only enforce, and you can only be protected, if it is law. There are many things others do that may be irritating or feel dangerous, which in fact are legal. Learn what is law connect with others who share your concerns. Demand and lobby your legislative leaders (City Council, County Board of Supervisors, State Legislators, National Legislators) for change. Can you do this alone? No. Which is why it’s so important to become informed – about the issues, and the groups with whom you can create solutions by collaboration
  5. Vote – your decisions on key state legislation may actually create the change and laws we need, AND provide the resources to the right organizations to enforce them

Highlights of Chief of Police Cynthia Renaud’s comments

CRIME

The Situation

  • While we are experiencing less overall crime vs the high crime decades of the 1980’s and ‘90’s, the numbers of crimes committed in Santa Monica have been creeping up over the past few years. More importantly, property related crimes such as motor vehicle theft and larceny continues to increase. The Chief believes we are in a period similar to the 1980’s. In response the increases in violent crimes of that period, new laws were adopted – legally defining as crimes a number of offenses that were previously not, eg murders occurring due to family violence, three strikes law, gang injunctions. Also, the police and other governmental bodies were authorized to use new tools to more actively combat violent crimes. The Chief believes that long-term improvements will only happen when new laws are passed to “keep up with” the emergence of new waves of crime. If we band together and lobby our elected leaders, we can accelerate this process. Because in the meantime, in many situations where you might feel unsafe, the laws may not exist for the police to enforce.

What the Police Department is doing

  • The SMPD is rebuilding the Crime Impact Team (CIT). This is a specialized force of one Sergeant + 8 officers. This past year, this team dwindled to only 2 officers. The CIT is focused on identifying and hitting emerging crime trends head on, and going after suspects. The CIT will be fully staffed within a few weeks. They will be in the field in modified uniforms and a plain wrap car
  • Chief Renaud is restructuring how the various teams within the SMPD work, effectively building teams around suspects and offenses – beat cops, Crime Impact Team, detectives – so all departments within SMPD are working more closely to solve each particular situation
  • The Chief is also increasing the “deterrence” force of uniformed presence on every street and neighborhood (see “police presence in your neighborhood” below)

What you can do

  • For any issue you are concerned about, do your research. Read online, seek out studies, experts, people and organizations that are analyzing the problem and developing new solutions. Collaborate with them. And lobby your legislators to push for new laws that will more assertively solve the problem. This is what is needed to create long-term solutions. The police are the short-term solution, able to enforce only those laws which already exist.
  • When your children are home alone and someone comes to your door, have your child speak to the person THROUGH the door. They should NOT open the door. If ANYTHING feels odd to your child, they should immediately call 9-1-1 to report what they are experiencing, and then call you or another guardian.
  • Do anything you can to make your home appear occupied and “as if people are still home,” even when you are not home. For example, put your radios, stereo and televisions on timers, so they turn on/off in different rooms, at different times, and play both sound and moving images. Talk radio with speaking voices is better than music radio for this purpose.

HOMELESSNESS

The Situation

  • Homelessness is a problem for everybody. It is a complex problem with many interconnected causes. However, we have no data suggesting these causes include public transportation (eg Metro) or other cities bussing homeless into Santa Monica. Among the biggest documented issues around Homelessness are mental health and addiction. While the police, in coordination with many other city agencies actively offer to provide help and services to the homeless, nobody is legally required to accept the offered services.
  • To be homeless is not a crime. The vast majority of homeless are law abiding citizens.
  • There are many things homeless do which are not illegal, and therefore, not grounds for arrest. For example, bad body odor and yelling profanities – when done on public property – are not illegal. These actions are protected by the first amendment. What is key is that no laws are being broken when this happens in public spaces. Public spaces include streets and sidewalks, beaches, parks, and government buildings such as libraries.
  • Importantly, once a person enters your personal property (your front yard and driveway are your property, the sidewalk is public property), they are trespassing. If you do not want them on your property, your rights allow you to ask them to leave, and if needed, seek police help to have them removed.
  • Once anybody does something illegal, whether on public or private property, the police are able to step in to enforce the laws. For example, physical harm is a crime. If you are physically harmed in public or on your personal property, please report it immediately. You are legally able to file a personal harm report against that person.

What the Police Department is doing

  • Deterrence is a top priority. The SMPD is increasing staffing to be able to increase the physical presence of uniformed officers on the streets.
  • The SMPD plays a critical role in Santa Monica’s Homeless Liaison Program Team (HLP). This interdepartmental team includes police, fire dept & paramedics, and social services staff. They actively seek out homeless where they congregate, and offer services hoping the homeless will accept the help.

What you can do

  • If homeless enter your property, call the police non-emergency line at (310) 458-8491 with a description of the person and what they are doing. Please know that while your issue is important, the police department is always deploying officers to that moment’s most serious need, and you may not receive an instantaneous response or visit.

POLICE PRESENCE IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD

The Situation

  • SMPD is budgeted for 233 uniformed officers. The department has NOT been fully staffed to this level for several years.
  • The Chief decides where officers are deployed. She believes every street, every neighborhood needs to have a physical police presence, irrespective of whether it is a historical crime hotspot. She is committed to residents seeing an increased physical presence on your local streets. Also, know that many officers ARE deployed to documented crime hotspots, eg downtown, which protects us all.
  • Our new Neighborhood Resource Officer for Beat 4 is Officer Peter Lashley, a 14-year veteran of the SMPD. His job is to understand resident needs and come up with police AND non-law enforcement solutions to help solve our problems. He coordinates resources across police and city departments on our behalf. His direct line is (310) 458-2201, x4132. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WD8CAYd1zEg

What the Police Department is doing

  • A key priority is to recruit and train qualified officers as quickly as possible. Hiring is going well, and the Chief expects to be at 100% “budgeted strength” within six months. If you see two officers in one squad car, it is quite likely that one of them is a trainee.
  • As the police force reaches full budgeted strength, there will be more uniformed officer hours available to provide a more visible presence on our neighborhood streets, respond to calls about issues of all priorities, and follow up on reported crimes.
  • Officer Peter Lashley, our Beat 4 NRO, is spending more time getting to know us as residents and merchants, and our priority issues and needs.
  • The mounted police/horse patrol will also be back in service shortly.

What you can do

  • If you experience a situation where you are unhappy with the police response or lack thereof, please call the non-emergency line at (310) 458-8491 to report it. The SMPD can use these learnings to adjust officer training.
  • Get to know our Beat 4 NRO, Officer Peter Lashley. His number is (310) 458-2201, x4132.
  • Report serious crimes to 9-1-1, and all other situations to the non-emergency line (310) 458-8491.
  • Get involved in your local Neighborhood Watch Group. WSA Real Estate is connecting all who expressed interest in participating with others in their respective neighborhoods.

We thank Chief of Police Cynthia Renaud for an exceptional evening of straight talk, insight and advice on what the SMPD is doing, and specific actions we can each take to create Solutions by Collaboration to improve the safety and security of our neighborhood.

Local information sources on Facebook

  • Santa Monica Now
  • Residocracy Santa Monica
  • Santa Monica Forward
  • Santa Monica Government, Politics, Policies and People

The WSA Real Estate group will continue to offer safety suggestions for you, your children, friends, pets and personal privacy.

Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and leave us your email at Wynn.Sawaii.Aston@gmail.com or (310) 899-3510 to receive our newsletter.

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