Chief Lansdowne, I received a message very early yesterday morning from Boyd Long, Assistant Chief of Patrol Operations, and was not able to return his call until later that evening. I want to acknowledge his quick response to my prior email about disparate police responses in different communities. Chief Long was professional and courteous and we had a long, interesting conversation on the topics within my email.
I learned that a police unit responded to two calls about gunshots in City Heights. Chief Long said he reviewed the recorded tapes in which the sound of the gunshots was described as coming from the alley. The police unit which was dispatched determined that the sound was from hammering on metal in the alley and it wasn’t until they received another call the following morning that they went to the apartment where the murder-suicide occurred. I told Chief Long that this is not what was reported in the Union Tribune by the neighbor of the murder victim and that I still intended to contact that neighbor. He encouraged me to do so.
We discussed the police response to the naked swimmer in OB. While Chief Long defended the police response to the incident, he also said that SDPD also recognizes the fact that the quantity of police responding to an incident in itself can change the dynamics of a situation, and that less of a presence is generally deemed prudent. There remain legitimate and divergent views on the issue issue of how the naked swimmer incident was handled.
I expressed my concern about “boutique policing” in places such as OB where the police are called out to enforce laws against often victimless crimes, quality of life crimes- dogs barking, loud parties, illegal parking, smoking on the beaches etc. and what has been reported in the OB Rag as loitering.
Chief Long informed me that loitering laws were determined illegal by the courts, and so no one is ticketed for loitering. What I realized since our conversation is that vagrancy laws, I believe, are enforceable. In retrospect it is unfortunate that our conversation did not touch on that particular matter. It is also unfortunate that I was not more focused when I asked about how many police responses to quality of life crimes there are in the Western Division, and specifically OB, compared to the MidCity division and specifically City Heights.
Chief Lansdowne, I spent the greater part of the afternoon in Ocean Beach observing what was happening at the seawall at the end of Newport. I talked to a few of the homeless kids there and explained that they are at the center of a controversy in that community and listened to what they had to say. The U-T, and Channel 10 News aren’t particularly interested in their point of view, but I am.
I am posting this update to my open letter on the OB Rag which will convey the content of this email. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge there your response as publicly as I voiced my concerns. I also need to emphasize that I hope you view this as part of an ongoing conversation between SDPD and the communities of City Heights and Ocean Beach. Questions are answered and questions continue to be raised, as they should be in a democratic society.
Anna Grace Daniels