An Open Letter to Police Chief Lansdowne: A Tale of Two Crimes

by on February 7, 2010 · 13 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Ocean Beach, San Diego

police city hts

Police responded to murder-suicide in City Heights 12 hours late. Photo: K.C. Alfred / Union-Tribune

Dear Chief Lansdowne:

I awoke this morning(Saturday Feb. 6th) and began doing what I do every morning- reading the news and drinking my coffee. A signonsandiego article regarding the police investigation of a murder-suicide in City Heights caught my eye  I could not help reading it as a disturbing counterpoint to a OB Rag blog posting about the police crackdown on homeless youth in Ocean Beach.


Police respond immediately to naked man in Ocean Beach. Photo: Nate Hipple - OB Rag

I have lived in City Heights for over 20 years and I also contribute to the OB Rag. What I read this morning was essentially articles about not only different kinds of crime but articles about what seems to be two different cities in terms of police involvement. The following comment that I left on the blog sums up my analysis:


I just finished reading a SignonSD account about the investigation of a murder-suicide in my neighborhood. A neighbor called 911 to report the sound of multiple gunshots in an adjacent apartment. He stayed awake for a few hours and never heard the police arrive. He called the non-emergency number the next day to express his concern. The police arrived later that afternoon to investigate. By all accounts so far, the police presence was about 12 hours later than the incident.

At the end of the article was the usual ravings by the U-T’s loyal readership- Sanders has cut the PD budget, so this is what happens. People will get shot, so City Heights just suck it up.

Right. The PD budget is now stretched so thin that our police cannot respond to every call. They have priorities….

Like naked swimmers in OB with how many cop cars responding? Like a bunch of kids hanging out on an OB seawall- loitering. LOITERING!!!!! Bring on the cops.

This is not only a tale of two crimes- it is also a tale of two cities. City Heights is a largely poor and often violent neighborhood, so who gives a s@&t? It is unknown and I don’t know if it will ever be determined when each of these men died. That’s a rather stomach churning thought too, to think that the victim might have gone on with life and the shooter could have received justice if they didn’t die immediately.

OB on the other hand is gentrified enough, with all that implies, to justify the police response and media coverage we’ve been reading about for the past week now in the OB Rag. And yes, it is all about gentrification when the police are called out in excessive numbers to respond to what are largely victimless crimes. It is not my idea of what it means to be protected and served. And it is not my idea of justice. …”

Chief Lansdowne- when exactly did the police arrive at the crime scene in City Heights? What is SDPD’s policy on responding to 911 when gun shots are discharged in an immediate area? Twenty years ago my neighbors said they didn’t bother to call police when they heard gunshots (they did however hit the floor on occasion) because they wouldn’t respond and it appears that not much has changed. This is a sobering thought.

How is your department prioritizing police response to citizen calls, given the current budget cuts? Do you make distinctions between victimless crimes and crimes with victims, and if so, does that change by area?

I need to make it clear that by all current accounts- which have not been corrected on signonsandiego- the police did not respond any where immediately to a murder in my neighborhood; by all accounts thus far, SDPD has responded quickly to a naked swimmer and loitering youth in OB.

There are at least two sides to every story, and I invite your response. I will also post this as an open letter on the Obrag.


Anna Grace Daniels

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar my 2 cents February 7, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Excellent , well thought out.
With all the attention drawn to the homeless in OB they probably will be getting more attention from SDPD now.


avatar Dave Sparling February 7, 2010 at 3:18 pm

I still have that nagging question, was there one of 12 cop cars already at the scene and had the naked guy in a car, equipped with a radio or computer? If so why didn’t a cop get on the radio and tell the other 7 cops to slow down and not come screaming into OB.


avatar jim g February 8, 2010 at 8:20 am

This is a very good point. Once he was under control the speed of cars coming to the incident should have been reduced considerably!!! The OB community officer might have a few comments on this. Please look for him and ask. I know I will.

I do NOT have an issue with multiple officers come to the aid of another officer, however once the situation is under control lets all be safe and reduced speeds are part of that.


avatar obfuzz February 8, 2010 at 5:59 pm

They did. The police radio traffic is on sandiego public safety .com, a scanner website not affiliated with the gov


avatar Frank Gormlie February 7, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Dave Sparling for Planning Board! What district are ya running in Dave?


avatar OB Joe February 7, 2010 at 3:31 pm

The follow-up article about the murder-suicide in City Heights discussed a potential gay male affair that turned deadly, and even though the guys were white, still City Heights is predominantly a poor and minority community, not worth the attention of police. Actually, the police are very busy there…. yet Western Div cops still have time for loitering citations and wrestling a nude guy down.


avatar obfuzz February 8, 2010 at 5:56 pm

There is no such thing as a loitering citation. It is not illegal to loiter.


avatar annagrace February 8, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Right obfuzz. I had a long conversation with the Assistant Chief of Patrol Operations Boyd Long. The police know that the loitering argument did not hold up in the courts- do the people who work and live in OB know that? Stay tuned for my report.


avatar Dave Sparling February 7, 2010 at 3:43 pm

District 2 Frank I live on Brighton.


avatar OBcelt February 7, 2010 at 3:49 pm

yep well thought out!


avatar Ernie McCray February 8, 2010 at 12:22 am

Great piece; a look at justice, or lack thereof, in action or, in this case, not in action based on what you’ve let us in on. I can’t wait to hear a response but I’m not going to, as they say, hold my breath. I’ve seen the police come a long way over the years, having been involved, at various times, in trying to help them get their poop together – but there’s something about the beast that requires ever present and ongoing scrutiny.


avatar lane tobias February 8, 2010 at 10:51 am

Anna – race is the obvious indicator, and I hope your questions are addressed in due time.

Well thought out messages like yours usually get hyperbole in response…lets see what happens. Great post!


avatar just my 2 cents February 9, 2010 at 8:30 am

A follow up article in the UT this morning on the shooting in City Heights. The offical SDPD records according to Chief Boyd Long show amoung other things : Two 911 calls at 5:30 AM ” from people in the complex reporting hearing gunshots in the area. Neither caller indicated the sounds of shots had come from inside the complex” …Six officers and a Sergeant responded to the calls within 5 minutes. The officers cleared the area at 5:47…..
I guess this is the other side to the story which put SDPD in bad light. San Diego Union Tribune Feb. 9 1010 B3 includes more on this .

Let the record be set straight on this: A tale of two crimes stated ” A neighbor called 911 to report the sounds of gunshot in an adjacant apartment” This is not the case . Often with first reports accuracy is missing.


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