In our continued research into the problem of men engaging in lewd conduct at Santiago Park, we have found a report by the Santa Ana Police Department, dated 2001, indicating that the City of Santa Ana has known about this problem – for over 25 years.
The report was submitted to the Herman Goldstein Award Selection Committee, in D.C., in an attempt to win an award. Here are a few excerpts from the report’s cover letter:
Residents surrounding the twenty-three acre Santiago Park in Santa Ana had problems with lewd activity occurring in their park over a number of years. Instead of continuing the short term fix of using strictly enforcement tactics, the officers assigned to this project worked with community members and other city and county departments to develop and implement a plan to achieve long term success.
The response to the thorough analysis completed on this problem involved changing environmental factors at the park, using undercover and surveillance techniques, coordinating with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for special probation terms upon conviction, garnering community support and assistance, and ultimately working with the Parks and Recreation Department to adjust the Park’s hours to aid in the prevention of the illegal activity taking place.
A community survey was used to assess the attempts made by the Santa Ana Police Department. Officers working this project noticed an obvious decrease and upon return of the survey instrument it was clear that the community also recognized the improvement at the park. This project successfully addressed a long-term problem for residents in Santa Ana using new and unique strategies.
This report is incredible. Check this out, “A thorough analysis revealed that incidents of lewd conduct had been taking place in Santiago Park for the past twenty years and primarily involved males engaging in sex acts with other males.”
This means that our police department has known about the Santiago Park problem for over 25 years, if not longer.
What happened to their effort to stamp out this problem?
The report included the police department’s response:
Officers developed an eight-step strategic plan consisting of an extended undercover operation in which officers used a hidden video camera to record suspects committing lewd acts in the park.
Officers later used the recordings to obtain fifty-six criminal filings for charges of lewd conduct. This was followed by the implementation of specialized probation terms for all convicted offenders, environmental modifications within the park, adjustment of the park’s operating hours, use of the Internet to announce police enforcement efforts to potential offenders and ongoing uniformed patrol. The plan also involved a concerted effort to gain the support of the local community in carrying out the various initiatives.
What a great plan! Why were these efforts stopped? This report dates back to 2001. Here we are in 2010 and Santiago Park is still crawling with perverts!
The report also included a history of lewd activity in Santa Ana. From 1996 to 1999 there were 111 arrests. And there’s more:
Research indicated that among the 111 arrests, two were for sexual battery on an undercover officer, while the remaining 109 were for California Penal Code Section 647 (a), which prohibits lewd and lascivious conduct in a public place. This includes the actual commission of a lewd act or solicitation to commit a lewd act in a public place. 109 of those arrested were males and two were females indicating a considerable disparity between the number of male and female violators.
One of the strategies used by the police department was to “use photographs and videotape to document the presence of a serious problem with lewd conduct in Santiago Park. According to California State law, the photographing and videotaping of such conduct is lawful providing it occurs in areas open to the public with the exception of the interior portions of bathroom facilities.”
Just as I stated in my last post, this behavior has put children at risk. Check out this excerpt from the report:
During the months of March and April 2000, officers photographed discarded used condoms, condom wrappers, soiled toilet paper and empty tubes of sexual lubricant strewn about the various problem locations within the park. Officers then used a hidden video camera to film a male subject masturbating while standing next to a pedestrian trail near the park’s baseball field. The incident took place during daylight hours (approximately 4:00 p.m.) while several small children were playing baseball in the background. The videotape provided a graphic and disturbing example of how serious the problem had become.
The police department then mounted a vast undercover operation to arrest these perverts:
During the Months of May and June 2000, the Santa Ana Police Department initiated a large-scale undercover enforcement operation in Santiago Park. The purpose of the operation was to obtain criminal filings against subjects engaging in, or soliciting others to engage in, lewd conduct in the park.
The execution of this enforcement operation differed considerably from past efforts, in that violators were not arrested immediately following the lewd act. Instead, undercover officers secretly videotaped the suspects committing the lewd act and allowed them to leave the park.
Uniformed officers then identified violators during seemingly routine traffic stops, pedestrian contacts and vehicle registration inquiries.
Officers later used the video footage to covertly obtain arrest warrants for lewd conduct against the previously identified violators.
Officers then waited until the conclusion of the undercover operation to serve the arrest warrants. This method allowed undercover officers to conceal their identity as well as the presence of the ongoing operation from potential offenders during the two-month effort. Consequently, undercover officers remained undetected and were able to obtain evidence to support the charges of lewd conduct against the most frequent and blatant offenders.
Upon conclusion of the two-month operation, officers had obtained fifty-six criminal filings for lewd conduct, which was eight more than obtained during the previous three years combined. According to officers’ research, this was the largest and only enforcement effort of its kind in the State of California, wherein hidden video equipment was used to capture acts of lewd conduct and then later used to covertly obtain over fifty criminal filings.
I am not going to copy and paste the entire report here. You need to read it. The report verifies what I wrote in my last post about the problems at Santiago Park, and them some. Click here to read the report.
Our City Council, our City Manager and our police department have been aware of this problem for years. Some changes have been implemented, but you have to wonder why this problem is still festering.
I am meeting with SAPD Chief Paul Walters next week to review the police department’s past actions and current strategies. I encourage our readers to continue to let the City Council know how YOU feel about this scandal.
Click here to contact the Santa Ana City Council. Click here to contact Councilman Carlos Bustamante, who represents the Santiago Park area. You can contact City Manager Dave Ream’s assistant, Mark Lawrence, at MLawrence@santa-ana.org.
And click here to read my previous post about the problems at Santiago Park.