Did you know that our Santa Ana City Council Members rarely show up for their own public Committee meetings? The Voice of OC published an expose about this here. In that post they revealed that the Santa Ana Public Safety and Neighborhood Improvement Committee meetings on March 22, May 24 and July 26 were all canceled. This in a city that is in the grips of an unprecedented rise in violent crime!
The members of that Committee, which includes Council Members Sal Tinajero and David Benavides, finally held a Public Safety and Neighborhood Improvement Committee meeting yesterday. Incredibly they had not held a meeting of this Committee since January of this year. Their excuse is that they don’t have time for these meetings because they are a part-time City Council. (Their solution is their Measure PP – which will give them a 700% pay raise).
Both Tinajero and Benavides left the latest Public Safety Committee early, before finishing the published agenda, so they could go hang out with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (as seen in the picture above).
Gerry Serrano, the President of the Santa Ana Police Officers Association, submitted a memo to the Committee that was included in their agenda for yesterday’s meeting.
In Serrano’s memo he addressed the minimum staffing in the SAPD’s Patrol Division. This is a critical issue that he has repeatedly brought up over the last several months to SAPD Police Chief Carlos Rojas, City Manager David Cavazos and the entire City Council, to no avail.
Here is Serrano’s memo (click here to read all of his attachments, at page 45 of the Committee agenda):
Public Safety Committee members Councilmen Tinajero and Benavides,
As you know, Patrol Level staffing has been below minimum levels all year and reduced further in April of 2016. The Santa Ana Police Officers Association (SAPOA) has repeatedly since April of 2016 expressed its grave concern and alerted the City Council of this. On numerous occasions, the SAPOA has pleaded with the Chief of Police and City Manager to restore Patrol Staffing levels back to safe levels and in accordance with the city’s Strategic Plan of community oriented policing. The Chief and City Manager have repeatedly stated that staffing levels have not been reduced and or funding removed from the police department, which is contrary to the facts.
Attached is a memorandum disseminated throughout the entire SAPD illustrating the Chief’s directive of reducing Patrol staffing levels.
This has been a grave concern to our membership for several reasons. Most importantly, we all agree that community oriented policing should be one of the cornerstones from which Patrol Level staffing is built upon. How can we develop community relationships and engage in a positive collaborative with the community when the police department is grossly and unsafely understaffed? Is responding hours later to a 911 call from our community, a positive police/community contact? These unstaffed positions are placing a great wedge between the community and police department and handcuffing the police officer’s ability to engage in community oriented policing.
Additionally, providing a quality customer service to the families and business community of Santa Ana can only be accomplished by adhering to recommended minimum staffing levels. Is it ethical and just to not allow the police department to utilize budgeted money allocated to provide a quality public safety service to our community?
In January of 2015, the Santa Ana Police Department had a staffing study done by the University of North Texas and the study recommended the police department have 186 police officers in the Patrol Division. At that time the SAPD reported having 147 police officers in its Patrol Division. I believe currently we are at 93 field-able police officers.
Also, a critical issue is the safety of our police officers. In a time where it has become inherently dangerous to simply dawn the uniform and go to work, why hasn’t the staffing problem been addressed? The city is obligated to provide safe working conditions to our membership. This year we’ve had a significant increase in violent crime and shootings. Is there a correlation between violent crime and lack of allocated officers? There have been two police officers shot at by violent criminals, but yet the staffing problem continues. God forbid a tragic event occurs where an officer is seriously injured, as the liability incurred by the city would be immense – knowing the staffing problems and lack of response to it. Additionally, what liability does the city have or obligation to our community when there is a delayed response to a priority emergency and the life saving efforts is extensively delayed because of a lack of budgeted officers working? If need be, I can provide factual incidents where this has occurred.
I have attached the monthly schedules for the Patrol Division which includes all three Patrol Shifts for your
review. When looking at the schedule all the numbers in RED indicate the number below minimum staffing
levels. For example, a RED -2 means that shift was two (2) police officers short for the day. The following is a
monthly approximation of staffing for Patrol Officers this year:
- January: an average of 3-4 officers below minimums
- February: an average of 3-4 officers below minimums
- March: an average of 3-4 officers below minimums
- April: an average of 4-5 officers below minimums
- May: an average of 5-6 officers below minimums
- June: an average of 4-5 officers below minimums
- July: an average of 3-4 officers below minimums
- August: an average of 2-3 officers below minimums
- September: an average of 2-3 officers below minimums
The FBI recently released it crime data and 2015 data is now available. Per SAPD Records and FBI reported UCR, violent crime is up 51.87% from 2013 to 2016 and homicides are up 61.54% (13 to 21) from last year as compared to 2016 year to date. The city council has approved a police budget that allows for certain expenditure in funds to safely police our community. Why can we not follow minimum staffing levels and allow for a safe working environment and adequate staffing to fulfill the needs of our community, which is needed?
Lastly, our Santa Ana Detention Facility has a policy on minimum staffing as per recommendations by the Bureau of Prisons and Department of Justice requirements. The Santa Ana Detention Facility policy sets staffing at 18 correctional officers. Per our correctional representatives, currently and regularly staffing at the facility is at 13 correctional officers and 10 on the weekends.
I respectfully request that the Public Safety Committee address these critical concerns and through council action give directive to the city manager and chief on allowing already budgeted funds to safely provide public safety needs to our community.