Dramatic Reduction in Force, Rising Crime Rate and Overworked Staff Puts Local Cops and their Public in a Vulnerable Position
COSTA MESA, Calif. – The Dallas attacks, the ambush and murder of three police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and other killings and shootings of officers in Kansas, and Wisconsin has led police departments throughout the nation to consider and/or their safety procedures. Some departments are double-staffing patrol cars and foot patrols, while others are increasing their communication with local, state, and federal law-enforcement partners, or instructing officers to take their meals and personal breaks in pairs.
The Costa Mesa Police Department (CMPD) is still operating with far less officers (103) to keep watch over Costa Mesa’s 112,000 residents than the budget-approved level of 136.
“Police are on the frontlines of civil unrest, terror attacks, and a growing number of potentially deadly situations that require adequate staffing and resources in response,” according to David Sevilla, president of the Costa Mesa Police Association.
In an interview with the East Bay Times,* Walnut Creek Police Lt. Tom Cashion said “my first thought is that as an officer, it’s a scary time.” He listed a number of factors that have contributed to the lack of trust between communities and the police that serve them, including the dynamic of social media and the dwindling numbers that many departments face.
Sevilla wholeheartedly agrees with that assessment and says CMPD has struggled with a more than 30% reduction in force that began in 2010. Since that time, Costa Mesa’s police department, which downsized from 164 officers to 103 officers, has been stretched to its limit with a ballooning workload.
“Many of our officers are logging 15-hour days to meet our 24/7 mission to protect the public,” added Sevilla. “But we are operating with 9 detectives, instead of 18, our entire narcotics squad was cut along with our K-9 unit. These are only some of the changes which affect services to the residents.”
The bigger question facing Costa Mesans is what priority do they put on public safety? That will be the key difference in the November elections. No one wants putting officers at risk by working with fewer resources. Regular staffing isn’t optional, it’s necessary.
A recent statement released by the San Jose Police Officers’ Association sums up the situation well, “It is past time for our political leaders to step up and support law enforcement with the necessary staffing and equipment to keep our neighborhoods safe….We don’t need any more statements of condemnation of these heinous acts or pledges of remorse for these latest murders. We need action.”
*East Bay Times, July 18, 2016