Stop the self-gratifying rhetoric, support Arroyo Grande police

June 15, 2020

Jim Hill

OPINION by JIM HILL

“Arroyo Grande looks at police practices after protests” –The Tribune, June 14.

The Tribune article would be more accurately titled “Arroyo Grande City Council gave no thought to police practices until after protests.” Fortunately, their lack of interest didn’t engender catastrophic results, such as the horrific murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

In fact, the Arroyo Grande Police Department itself has thoughtfully reviewed its own practices over the past several years, which is why it has an excellent reputation for fairness, professionalism, community involvement, and respect for all.

“We need to confront the systemic racism and inequalities that continue to plague our country”, Arroyo Grande Mayor Caren Ray Russom said. “We must act so that no more lives are lost.” The Arroyo Grande council will look at ways to “not only continue to diversify police forces, but also to provide more nuanced racially sensitive training.”

Apparently the Arroyo Grande council is uninformed about the diversity currently present in their police department. Mayor Ray Russom seems to conflate Arroyo Grande Police officers with those few in other jurisdictions who have caused tragic losses of life. One might as well conflate Caren Ray with James Earl Ray.

During my recent terms as mayor, I spent several days and nights riding along with Arroyo Grande officers on patrol and have been immensely impressed with the care and diligence they bring to the job and the fairness and respect with which they treat those they encounter. In the wake of budget cuts and short staffing, our officers are called upon to be social workers, peace-keepers, mental health responders, and yes, even crime stoppers.

After seeing all the roles our police are routinely expected to fill with the utmost degree of professionalism, I have advocated to the SLO County Board of Supervisors for more mental health resources in order to better facilitate that part of the job police officers are now doing. Unfortunately, that has not been successful to date. Perhaps our council might consider joining that advocacy.

The council’s sudden concern for increased topical training for police rings hollow after budget cuts to the department followed self-promoted pay raises for the mayor and council. Will they at least now vote to increase the police budget? One can only hope.

In the past week, one of our officers was wounded by an armed murderer while assigned to Paso Robles protecting citizens from that threat. Mayor Ray Russom would do well to consider the outstanding job done by Arroyo Grande’s Police Department in unpredictably dangerous circumstances. She should start by providing adequate funding to support that work, and advocating for additional mental health funding at the County level.

This is not the time for self-gratifying me-too rhetoric from the mayor and council. Our police department supports this community in countless ways and they deserve our support as well.


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UguestIt

Mr. Hill’s opinion goes to show how he is the problem and not the solution. One might be inclined to forgive such nonsense because he is still bitter from being ousted by the current mayor, but this does not justify his lack of accuracy, transparency, or understanding.


After the mayor’s numerous videos and public comments praising the police departments work, while being subjected to heavy attacks from some constituents, it seems wholly inaccurate to suggest this is self-serving. Anyone who watched the last council meeting or monitored social media knows the mayor paid a price for supporting constitutional rights and the police departments actions.

Last week, when Mayor Russom lead the council to agreeing to not take the money from unfilled police department salaries into the general fund, but instead earmark it for a new radio repeater system, she was showing how to support the department. She argued this to a 4-1 agreement because she understood what the department needed. In Mr. Hills tenure, no such substantive effort to understand and support the department was made other than towing the union line. He always used the police money for the general fund.

But most importantly is Mr. Hill just doesn’t get it. No, we don’t have issues like we read about in the paper and watch on the news but that does not mean there is not room to grown and improve. In fact questions were raised at the city council about what really occurred at the offending business which many officers go to and if there was some level of favoritism. That is why they are talking about an independent review. Mr. Hill tells us the police department recently reviewed themselves. This is a clear misunderstanding of what has taken the nation to the level of protests that we see today. Can anyone imagine Mr. Hill saying “don’t worry, its all good, the Oceano community services district audited themselves.”

Perhaps if Mr. Hill wants to be a community leader, he should get a better understanding of the community instead of working to pay back old debts.


Stunned

Well said as usual Mr. Hill. How the citizenry of AG couldn’t see their way to keep you as mayor still blows my mind and to see who they settled for is even crazier!


I too have noticed how every single institution from my bank to the drug store have in some way concluded that “we too” want on this bandwagon. Where was the City of AG positioned on this prior to the George Floyd deal? Nowhere.


Today they’re marching around blathering on about this and that when in reality they’re soothing the masses so they can get back to their personal projects like building more hotels and adding on to their own homes.


Drain that swamp again Jim!


ososkid

Oh shit! I guess the protests need to stop right now! Old white boomer says the cops are cool.


Karen, you should be ashamed of yourself for publishing this kind of bootlicking drivel. I know the talent pool for conservative “thinkers” is pretty shallow, but this BS would drowned in a kiddie pool of logic and rhetoric.


Also, the writing is embarrassingly awful.


kevin rise

Agreed with your sentiments about Hill, old rich white guy cares or gives nothing about minorities.


aye-caramba

ososkid, or shall I just say “skid”? You discredit your argument when you simply attack the race and age of an author. I would venture that there is a dark spot of racism which hides in your soul, that which you do not see. Grow up some, attack the argument, discredit the ideas, but spare us the juvenile piddle. Acai bowl anyone?


UnReasoned

Aye-caramba, practise what you preach.


ddc1983

ososkid – is that to say that because someone falls into the demographic of, as you call it, an “old white boomer”, they don’t have any validity in this current societal climate? Because apparently both political parties disagree.


Noodly Appendages

Cut their budget. Arroyo Grande is Mayberry enough that we should think real hard about giving Barney a bullet. Take down the cameras and you don’t need officers to monitor them. They buy their own flatbed truck when they could get one of the others that the City already owns. They make us pay for incredibly expensive vehicles far too often. The Arroyo Grande police cried foul when residents wouldn’t approve their compound to their $7 million specs (private basement shooting range etc.)

There are too many. They are also overpaid. We need to take this opportunity to force the force to go back, away from militarization, and realize that we have been hoodwinked into ridiculous overspending on this department of our City government. And then, we need to give that money back to the people it was taken from by cutting the sales tax.

So, No Jim, this time I don’t agree with you.


Mitch C

No one needs the police — until they need the police. Wake up, this is the men/women who make it possible to live a peaceful existence. Anyone who takes on this oftentimes dangerous, thankless job has my full support.


SLOBodan

Maybe she is still angry that they endorsed you rather than her for Mayor! She is all about “self-gratifying, me-too rhetoric”, probably has her eyes set on being Governor one day! Too bad their budget is in the red, no money left to support the police work. It’s being spent on their salaries and retirement plans!


mercut1469

“After seeing all the roles our police are routinely expected to fill with the utmost degree of professionalism, I have advocated to the SLO County Board of Supervisors for more mental health resources in order to better facilitate that part of the job police officers are now doing.”


Thank you, Mr. Hill. Your advice is spot on. There’s no reason for cops, who, in many cases have no more education than a GED, to be put in a difficult situation with someone who is mentally ill or into a domestic dispute or a myriad of other problems that don’t require force.


Ms. Ray, or Russom, or Larson, or whatever her current name is today, is simply grandstanding and trying to take advantage of a current issue to bolster her popularity. She should probably keep silent on this.


shishkabob141

WE MISS YOU MAYOR HILL.


Kaiser Bill

Stop handing out bogus parking and speed trap tickets first of all, then the police will be supported dealing with the rioters and looters.