To: Mayor and City Council
From: SAPOA Board of Directors
This response is based on the overwhelming displeasure of the Santa Ana Police Officers Association (SAPOA) and the SAPOA Board of Directors regarding the memorandum released on August 30, 2016, by the City Manager and Chief of Police. The memo contained numerous misrepresentations and distorted the current crime picture and fact pattern during their tenure, beginning in 2013.
The truth must never be hidden from the community and the officials sworn to protect and represent the public.
I applaud the City Manager for recognizing the phenomenal job Chief Paul Walters did from 1987 to 2013 during his 25 plus years, reducing crime by 74%. However, why is the current crime picture distorted with statistics from 1987, utilizing three-year averages?
The truth is violent crime is up during their tenure beginning in 2013 (see chart/reference #1) as substantiated by the UCR report by and to (SAPD) the FBI1. This legitimate data reveals an increase in Violent Crime by 45% since 2013, compared to the misleading representation of the truth presented in “3-year averages” by the Chief and City Manager (2013 violent crime reported incidents=1122 vs. 2015 violent crime reported incidents=1627 / difference of 505). Of major significance, the FBI does not statistically document “shootings” which is also a huge factor in painting an accurate picture of the current violence in our city.
In the last Shooting Analysis Report2 (see chart below/reference #2) conducted by the Santa Ana Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division, this illustrates the city of Santa Ana had 210 shooting incidents in the first half of this year (2016). By comparison, Santa Ana recorded 297 shootings over the course of a twelve-month period in 2015, which was a 130% increase from 2014.
The second UCR graph illustrated by the City Manager again gives credit to our prior leadership and only shows yearly statistics up to 2009. How is data that is over 6 years old pertinent today? Of even more concern is the use of Long Beach data comparing Anaheim and us to Long Beach. Long Beach, with a population exceeding 462,000 (according to 2010 census data) which equates to an approximate one third increase has only had 15 homicides this year as compared to our 18 YTD. Do the City Manager and Chief believe we are a city similar to Long Beach? Reference is also made to Santa Ana ranked as a safe city by Forbes Magazine in 2009. Not only is this information outdated, but also how relevant is it to compare our city to large metropolitan cities 2700 miles away? Where is the pertinent data? How do we compare to our neighboring cities? How do we fair in Orange County? In a 2016 study conducted by a local firm3 of the most dangerous cities in Orange County, Santa Ana ranked 1st. We also ranked 1st in the city least invested in its police department.
In an article by Neighborhood Scout in May of 20164 it mentions Santa Ana has a crime rate considerably higher than the national average. “Based on the FBI crime data, Santa Ana is not one of the safest communities in America in 2016.”
In multiple articles by the Orange County Register5 regarding shootings (February of 2016, 50 Days, 55 Shootings) Chief Rojas is quoted saying it’s the busiest January for the department since 2011. This is substantiated by data from 2014 to 2015 when violent crime rose 29% according to the FBI and the local police.
In coverage by CBS Los Angeles in February of 20166, Chief Rojas is quoted saying, brazen individuals are assaulting police officers and members of our community. Chief Rojas also says he “believes the police and community can come together to take back the streets.” Clearly, by the chief’s own admission, he’s lost control of the streets.
In another article by the Orange County Register7 Chief Rojas is quoted saying “it’s been a violent start to the year, I haven’t seen this level of violence in recent times.”
In regard to total number of police officers, the author of the memo surreptitiously hides the truth. Yes, the city has increased the number of sworn positions by 44 officers since 2012, but the truth is we have fewer officers in 2016 than in 20128 (see chart below).
However we are being told that the city has increased staffing levels by 13% and 44 officers. For the first time in a generation, officers are leaving Santa Ana for other cities and officers eligible to retire are leaving as soon as they qualify. Since 2013, eighteen (18) officers are now working at other police departments and more are in the process and or considering leaving for other agencies 10.
* Sworn Officers count includes all sworn personnel below the rank of Lieutenant, however it should be noted we actually have less sworn management as well.
The Department currently has 5.5% less officers then it had in 2012 even with the large volume of hiring as reported by the City Manager and the Chief of Police.
Patrol staffing has been a grave area of concern to our membership and plays a vital role to officer safety and the ability to provide the quality service the families and business community of Santa Ana deserve. According to the Santa Ana Police Department’s scheduling system and minimum staffing limits9 (see schedule printed below), in May of 2016 on a dayshift nine (9) police officers were scheduled which was eight (8) less than minimum staffing recommendations.
Cover-shift had 15 officers, which was one below minimums, and on graveyard shift there were 12 officers, which was five (5) below minimum levels. The numbers listed in red on the city manager’s graph are specialty units that are assigned to a different function and their primary responsibility is not that of responding to calls for service, which is the function of the “patrol officers” assigned to Patrol. In the City Manager’s chart it indicates “average XX officers available at any given time”. Is it an average of a year, month, week or a selected day? It is my belief this is a single day picked by the chief or city manager to illustrate their misleading staffing point.
The information on 911 Response Times is incomplete. There is a huge difference between “drive time” and the “total” time taken from when the 911 call is taken, the total time pending and the response/drive time. Why isn’t this information given? What are total times (from initial call, pending, drive time) for all Priority 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 calls? Many residents and even Councilman Sarmiento recently told me that his constituents believe that sometimes police don’t even respond to 911 calls as they have pended so long. In my opinion, that can definitely hinder the trust the police department has with the community.
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1 Federal Bureau of Investigations. (2016). Uniform crime reporting. Federal Bureau of
Investigations. Retrieved from https://ucr.fbi.gov/.
2 Santa Ana Police Department, Criminal Investigations Division. June (2016). Analysis of Shootings & Assault with Deadly Weapons Cases.
3 Graham Donath Law Offices, APC. May 2016. Most Dangerous Cities in Orange County. http://www.gddlaw.com/2016/05/12/cities-california-dangerous/
4 Neighborhood Scout. (2016). Crime rates for Santa Ana. https://www.neighborhoodscout.com/ca/santa-ana/crime/
5 The Orange County Register, (2016). 50 Days, 55 Shootings: Gangs blamed for Santa Ana’s most violent week. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/police-705000-gang-shootings.html
6 CBS Los Angeles. On Average 1 Shooting reported each day in Santa Ana in 2016. http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2016/02/19/more-than-1-shooting-reported-each-day-in-santa-ana-in-2016/
7 The Orange County Register. (2016). Santa Ana Police react to spate of gang-related shootings. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/probation-699616-police-officers.html
8 Santa Ana Police Officers Association. Membership rosters.
9 Santa Ana Police Department. May 2016. ISE Scheduling System.
10 Santa Ana Police Officers Association. Membership rosters.