San Luis Obispo management needs to be accountable

October 26, 2012

Katie Lichtig

OPINION By PETE EVANS

Dear CalCoastNews readers, I’m sharing this with you since this is an important and public issue. Below, I ask our local government if they approve of the actions of their peace officers, I think you might like to know as well. I have invited Ms Lichtig and our city council to review this humble note, I hope they will respond here. This is not about me, it is about us.

Ms. Katie Lichtig, San Luis Obispo city manager,

You were hired by our City Council to manage city business and all departments.

I’m writing you today to inquire about the recent police ‘take down’ of a defenseless homeless person on McMillan Road in SLO.

For a primer on this topic I refer you to SLO police again accused of hassling the homeless and SLO Police department video arrest of the homeless. 

The behavior of the police, at the very least officer Lincoln, at this event indicates contempt for the public and overall poor training.

The event in question seems to be a poor example of peacekeeping; something like seven squad cars showed up to deal with one young and by all accounts, peaceful retarded man who was not violating the law. And certainly not to the extent the cops violated propriety and minimal respect for citizens. Not only the victim but others on the scene as well.

Did you notice from the video, long after the victim was handcuffed on the sidewalk all the officers were just standing around-doing nothing? Were crimes being committed across town that suffered neglect because all these cops were milling about, doing nothing?

It was reported in the paper the officers were well aware of the limited mental capacity of the person in question. So therefore they should not have been filled with fear and wonder. Just why did so many cops show up?

There are many credible witnesses to this event; all seem to back up the article on CalCoastNews to the letter. Some of those witnesses have lived and worked in SLO for over 40 years. They cannot be ‘dismissed’ as local homeless, as if those folks are less credible.

One of the cops on the scene said the victim was throwing rocks at the police (a crime), he was asked by a local resident if the victim had been or was being arrested for that and he said ‘no,’ indicating to the witness that the officer was lying about the rock throwing comment. And in fact no witnesses saw any behavior on the part of the victim that seemed dangerous or illegal.

Is it illegal to have one’s hands in one’s pockets? Can any cop tell any citizen anything and demand compliance? Why did officer Lincoln attempt to intimidate a witness by shining a light in his eyes-you can see from the video it was broad daylight. And how does it sit with you for a citizen to be called an ‘asshole’ by a sworn officer? Can we call an officer that without being thrown to the ground and having our life disrupted-I doubt it. This is no good, cops should be better than us, not worse, you know that.

I would like to know what you, the chief, our city attorney and city council are doing about this. It is incumbent on you and others responsible for our police to investigate promptly, and divulge the result of that investigation to the public. And I would like to see a cost breakdown of what this travesty cost us in time and materials expended by the police in savaging this person and insulting others on the scene.

In these trying times we cannot afford to send seven squad cars to apprehend a single non-violent person known to be no threat to anyone.

This overreaction to a simple event has degraded our respect for law enforcement. I even heard from one law-abiding citizen (who was not one of the homeless on the scene) that he was tempted to throw rocks at squad cars he was so mad about this.

If you do not jump on this quickly and effectively you will not be doing your job. An in house quickie will not do, we want this out in the open. It’s all very simple and will not take the customary year or so you folks need to do the simplest thing such as finding out if two SLO officers actually smuggled drugs across the Mexican border after being caught red-handed and whatever happened to that road rage SLO cop, did he get off?

One event, seven cops, bunch of witnesses, done. Should be wrapped up in less than a week. Get on it.

Your (our) police were under no stress or threat; they greatly outnumbered in armaments and manpower the object of their attention yet felt the need to commit violence against a harmless suspect, denigrate innocent onlookers and act in unseemly ways towards others on the scene.

I think the current Council members and all challengers, you, the police chief and our city attorney should comment about this ASAP. The police response to all concerned was proper and legal or not.

This situation, falling on the heels of the many mistakes (cruel and costly) y’all (do you mind a little Southern Comfort here?) made when confronting issues concerning the homeless in SLO leads one to wonder about the competency of our city government.

I’m sure the voting public will be very interested in your timely response. Comment here so all can see how diligently you respond to public concerns, I’m sure you are well aware you work for us. This is a public issue; let’s resolve it publicly.

Pete Evans is a long time resident of San Luis Obispo.

 


28 Comments

  1. Jeanne Blackwell says:

    Pete, I very much agree with your assessment and I also think you have some very valid questions that need answering which do not seem to be happening here. Might I suggest that rather than depend on common courtesy and mutual respect which is not required of elected or appointed officials in responding to constituents concerns, that we take an approach that does demand more attention with the much needed timely results. The demand comes in the form of a Write of Mandate filed in Superior Court which is an order, not a request and does not have the option to not respond, that government officials do their job.

    And in the interest that justice be served the process needs to be fast tracked and to save citizens the time and expense of a legal procedure filed by the city attorney on our behalf.

    This may be a new approach to an old problem of how to get city officials and appointees to respond to the needs of the constituency in a timely manner by exercising our rights as citizens to accountability and transparency of those responsible for insuring those rights.

    I just feel that given all that is going on in our communities and the opportunities for mismanagement, corruption, malfeasance due to lack of oversight, transparency and our apparent lack of jurisdiction over our governing bodies we need to demand accountability in a way that insures success to our satisfaction.

    A writ of mandate, fast tracked, just seems like a fresh approach to resolving old problems. Something has to change as it seems more and more problems are arising with less and less options for a peaceful and satisfactory remedy. Justice delayed is Justice denied.

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