It is time to address SLO’s skyrocketing crime rates

October 6, 2018

OPINION by T. KEITH GURNEE

Our current San Luis Obispo mayor would have us believe that crime has gone down between 2017-2018, but it belies a disturbing truth. Our Police Department’s own published crime statistics for the first three-quarters of 2018 reveals a significant increase in certain deeply concerning crimes.

While vehicle thefts and aggravated assaults have gone down, here is what the city’s own statistics show:

Sexual assaults have spiked by 180 percent during the first quarter of 2018 and the third quarter witnessed a 133 percent increase in reported rapes.

Residential burglaries increased by 92 percent in the first quarter of 2018 and by 116 percent during the second quarter.

Robberies also increased 250 percent during the first quarter and by another 88 percent during the quarter just completed.

In general, burglaries are up nearly 55 percent for the year.

If these are not alarming numbers, what are?

This is not the fault of our hard-working Police Department. In fact, our police have caught two of the suspects responsible for the sexual assaults. And thanks to the MeToo movement, more sexual assaults are being reported than ever before.

Yet the rank and file of the department is down some eight to nine positions that they’ve been trying to fill for some time. Also, the voter’s passage of Proposition 47 a few short years ago that decriminalized drug offenses seems mostly to blame for the increase in residential burglaries wherein valuables are stolen from our homes and fenced for drugs.

Add to that the amount of time it is taking the department’s Community Action Team (CAT) to deal with a certain component of our homeless population is sapping their ability to respond.

What should we do about these problems? Taking credit for a decrease in certain crimes while masking an increase in other serious crimes is not the answer.

Here are some thoughts on how we can deal with crime on our streets:

1. Bring the number of positions in our Police Department up to an amount necessary to fully populate our need for sworn personnel to serve our community and its neighborhoods.

2. Support the hiring of a mental health professional as a key addition to the Community Action Team to better communicate with the mentally ill and act proactively with the County’s Mental Health Agency and those services offered by non-profits to get the mentally ill the help that they need.

3. Bolster the efforts of the “Coordinated Community Response Team” (CCRT) between SLO and Cal Poly to address the spike in sexual assaults and devise solutions on how we can meaningfully reduce these crimes.

4. Be truthful with the public about crimes being committed in this city and publish these crime statistics quarterly in a very public way.

5. Be wary of the infusion of cannabis in our community since its legalization and take measures to ensure that it does not bring corruption into local government.

6. Consider joining with other communities and law enforcement agencies that are witnessing increases in property crime related to decriminalizing drug offenses to back an initiative to repeal Proposition 47.

These action steps should go a long way towards helping the public to better understand what is happening in San Luis Obispo and building public support for a more visible and meaningful presence of law enforcement in our community.

T. Keith Gurnee is a former San Luis Obispo councilman and a current mayoral candidate.


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ravennest

Those who cry ‘fear mongering’ have their heads in the sand. And I’m pushing back to say unequivocally Gurnee DOES NOT sound like Trump! 
Regardless of political persuasion, anyone visiting SLO these days has to admit to seeing more homeless, more drug related crime. It’s happening all over California and the country. And yes, like it or not, legalizing marijuana comes with its own problems. 
I like this piece because I have a sense that Keith is willing to open up discussions on this situation and in so doing shows leadership.
SLO needs LEADERSHIP. Harmon is not a leader.
Please get out and vote on Election Day!

wgard

Fear mongering to get elected. Nice! Sounds a lot like Trump… This Gurnee guy is thirsty af for power. He’d even change his party affiliation to get in office. Sounds like a winner. Make slo great again Keith!

kettle

“This Gurnee guy is thirsty af for power.” They both are, no difference there.
If the bicycle coalition had not pushed so hard on the andholm bike path that will never be built, Keith would not even be here, Heidi would be a shoe in.
Also why do they always push for bike lanes down the busiest streets, ride and breath deep. Bike paths down toxic air corridors what a mistake.

Monad

I was previously, until I read this article, a Gurnee supporter. Not any more. This is right-wing fear-mongering at its worst. “Be wary … of the infusion of cannabis?” Not the mayor I want.

kettle

“Be wary … of the infusion of cannabis?” To be fair the current Council/mayor does not want cannabis or the revenue (we might let you, if you approve……). This is hand in hand with the chamber who booze selling members worry about revenue loss and others wringing their hands. It’s legal but if they want slo to be a “dry city” then the $$$ will go elsewhere.

Monad

I’m kind of fond of dark chocolate that is infused with cannabis.

Gordo

Mr. Gurney is correct in his observations that crime is increasing in San Luis Obispo City. But it is a far larger problem, crime is also increasing in both the county and in the state of California. There is no single cause for this increase in crime, however one major contributing factor was the voters of the State of California who passed proposition 47 in 2014. This initiative, dubbed as Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act by then Attorney General Kamala Harris lessened the penalties on a number of very serious offenses. Reducing crimes from felonies to misdemeanors or raising the dollar threshold for property crimes thereby reducing felonies to misdemeanors. With the implementation of Prop 47 a drug dealer in possession of several ounces of heroin, who is caught by the police merely receives a citation to go to court unless the drugs are in individual packaging and other indicators of posession for sales are present. A thief who steals $900 in merchandise from a business receives a citation for court and is not subject to arrest. Between a law that effectively ties the hands of police and the constant bashing of police by the media and other groups we have turned our police officers into firemen. Officers will respond two calls for service when the call is received by Dispatch, just like a fireman, but they’re not actively driving around looking for criminal behavior because we have turned their jobs into a version of catch and release. Adding to this problem is the inability of the court to hold criminals accountable when they do show up. The law that was created by Prop 47 does not have the teeth needed to allow judges to impose criminal sentences on defendants who fail to participate in drug, alcohol, or theft behavior counseling programs.
In short this rise in crime within the state was caused by the voters and the solution to it begins with the voters. I hope that if Mr Gurnee is elected as mayor he will add his voice to the growing chorus of leaders in the state who are egg knowledge in that Prop 47 was a mistake.

Monad

I don’t get your argument. The hands of the police have not been tied. But the rules have been changed. A relative of mine spent five years in jail for selling marijuana. Seems you want to go back to that kind of punishment. I don’t.

1965buick

I don’t disagree that crime is increasing. My question is, without endlessly building expensive jails & prisons, what do we do we with people that probably could have a better life than what they currently do?

womanwhohasbeenthere

One of the biggest factors is the realignment policy: if you are convicted of a non-violent, non-sexual, non-“serious” felony you don’t go to prison but go to jail. Steal a car? Not serious, go to jail not prison. Arson? Jail not prison. Most property crimes result in jail not prison. As a result these criminals get out sooner, and they commit crimes over and over. It’s a get out of prison free card.

Making SLO a “sanctuary city,” meaning we don’t hold illegals but let them off the hook, has also increased crime. Finally, the homeless situation is getting completely out of control. I am so tired of being accosted downtown, in the parks, wherever I go, by druggies camped out in industrial areas, city parks, the post office, wherever they want.

Our city could be cleaned up and the crime rate controlled if we had an administration that prioritized the needs and desires of law-abiding, tax-paying citizens over political correctness.

rukidding

Crime is skyrocketing everywhere in California. Pretty easy to figure out why when you have politicians that want sanctuary cities and not enforce some of the laws and criminals back on to the streets. The main reason why most cities get incorporated is to provide it’s citizens a safe place to live. That equates to a fire department and a police department. The budget for the city really needs to analyzed and divert funds to what the people want which is public safety. Like most governments their answer to this is more taxes which is not the answer. Fear mongering is not the answer either. Public Safety needs to be the priority for real not just for a politicians photo op. Look at every candidate and they talk about public safety during their campaigns but have they really served the people when elected? In November you have a chance to support people who believe in the law or those who don’t. It’s up to you. If you can budget to fill positions in Planning and Building why not the police department?

Snoid

Pretty simple equation. Look to Chicago for a prime example, democratic control since 1927.1400 gunned down so far in 2018. This isn’t a bash one or the other cause frankly I could care less about party lines but what is, is. If you believe this to be BS perhaps a real explanation based on your fact finding is in order.
 
23 of the 25 MOST DANGEROUS Cities in USA Have Democrat Mayors
NASHVILLE – MEGAN BARRY – DEMOCRAT
CHICAGO IL – RAHM EMAUEL – DEMOCRAT
MINNEAPOLIS MN – BETSY HODGES – DEMOCRAT
BUFFALO NY – BYRON BROWN – DEMOCRAT
ALBUQUERQUE NM – TIM KELLER – DEMOCRAT
BEAUMONT TX – BECKY AMES – UNKNOWN
SPRINGFIELD IL – JIM LANGFELDER – DEMOCRAT
WASHINGTON DC – MURIAL BOWSER – DEMOCRAT
ANCHORAGE AK – ETHAN BERKOWITZ – DEMOCRAT
LANSING MICHIGAN – VIRGIL BERNERO – DEMOCRAT
TOLEDO OH – PAULA HUDSON – DEMOCRAT
SAN BERNARDINO CA – R. CAREY DAVIS – REPUBLICAN
SPRINGFIELD MO – KEN MCCLURE – DEMOCRAT
INDIANAPOLIS IN – JOSEPH HOGSETT – DEMOCRAT
STOCKTON CA – MICHAEL TUBBS – DEMOCRAT
OAKLAND CA – LIBBY SCHAAF – DEMOCRAT
LITTLE ROCK AS – MARK STODOLA – DEMOCRAT
MILWAUKEE WI – TOM BARRET – DEMOCRAT
CLEVELAND OH – FRANK JACKSON – DEMOCRAT
KANSAS CITY MO – SLY JAMES – INDEPENDENT
ROCKFORD IL – THOMAS MCNAMARA – DEMOCRAT
BALTIMORE MD – CATHERINE PUGH – DEMOCRAT
MEMPHIS TN – JIM STRICKLAND – DEMOCRAT
ST LOUIS MO – LYDA KREWSON – DEMOCRAT
DETROIT MI – MIKE DUGGAN – DEMOCRAT

kettle

” This isn’t a bash one or the other cause frankly I could care less about party lines”
Yes it is, yes you do, your/this list is being circulated by right wing bs sites like the_donald. Note there is no statistic used called “MOST DANGEROUS Cities” that’s hyperbole just like using names and parties but no numbers, no facts. And then you bring up facts lol.
The real list starts with
Baltimore, Maryland, had 98.6 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.
Memphis, Tennessee, had 97.4 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.
St. Louis, Missouri, had 91.5 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.
Little Rock, Arkansas, had 87.4 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.
Birmingham, Alabama, had 86.1 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.
” If you believe this to be BS perhaps a real explanation based on your fact finding is in order.”
My list is from the FBI, where’s yours from?

kettle

Do Maps Show High Crime Rates Where Democrats Vote? “A few misleading maps were circulated after the 2016 presidential election insinuating that areas with a high population of democratic voters also had higher rates of crime.” FALSE.

jorge del cambio

Fear mongering.

incompingov

Amazing how some people can simply dismiss facts that contradict their world view.