OPINION: Severe budget cuts possible for San Diego Police Department

By Captain Miguel Rosario

San Diego Police Department Northwestern Division

The San Diego Police Department is facing possible severe budget cuts that will significantly impact the services it provides to the citizens of San Diego. The mayor has directed it to plan for a $15.7 million-dollar cut in its existing budget. For this, the Chief of Police submitted the following to the Mayor’s office: Cut one captain, two lieutenants, 20 sergeants, 30 detectives, and 109 officers. And eliminate two area stations and all storefronts.

This will lead to the elimination of the following positions in the Northwestern Division, which provides police services for Carmel Valley, Del Mar Heights, North City, Black Mountain Ranch, Torrey Highlands, Sorrento Valley, and Torrey Preserve. Officers presently in these positions will be transferred to patrol to minimize the effects of cuts in those services.

• Three Juvenile Services Team (JST) Officers, who provide dedicated police services to 24 schools in our area by working directly with the principles and school staff to ensure the safety of all students. They also administer the “Diversion Program” when juveniles make mistakes and violate the law. In it a contract between the juvenile and his/her parents is created to keep the juvenile out of the juvenile justice system while ensuring the juvenile behaves in a lawful manner and stays focused on school work and good grades. In the year from July 1, 2009 to July 1, 2010 these officers arrested 294 juveniles, of which 148 were eligible for this program. This option will no longer exist for these juveniles.

• One Community Relations Officer (CRO), who maintains liaison with all community groups and citizens, and administers an e-mail tree with over 4,500 addressees for this. The CRO also provides crime updates, responds to citizen requests and concerns, and represents the SDPD at community meetings and forums.

• One Migrant Liaison Officer (MLO), who patrols the canyon areas where migrant laborers are known to set up illegal campsites. The MLO impounds all heat sources used by migrants to cook and stay warm; these can cause canyon fires that may spread into residential areas and threaten lives and property there. The MLO also works with City Environmental Services to clean up active and deserted camps used by migrants.

• One Investigative Aid/Acting Detective. This officer assists detectives with their investigations and evidence processing while acting as a liaison with the City and District Attorney’s Offices to make the investigative process efficient and effective.

The Division will also shut down its front counter so citizens can no longer come to the Division to report crimes, get tickets signed off, etc. These services will be provided only at the headquarters building which is located downtown at 1401 Broadway.

As you can see, the proposed cuts in the SDPD budget will have a significant impact on the services this Division provides on a daily basis. The remaining patrol officers and detectives assigned to this division will continue to respond to priority calls for service and do their best to keep the citizens in this area safe. This I promise. But they will not be able to provide all the attention and services everyone in this community has come to expect and appreciate. And I am concerned that these cuts inevitably threaten critical community partnerships and drive up the crime rate that we have worked so diligently to reduce.

Please feel free to contact me at (858) 531-7011 if you have any questions or concerns about this.

   
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