During the recent meeting at the OB Woman’s Club over concerns about the sexual assaults, I was surprised by the “anti-police” attitudes by many attendees, having lived in OB for a number of years with no major complaints.
That is, until the other night.
Perhaps SDPD resents the proposed Citizens Watch or are under pressure for not publicizing the recent sex crimes, and are responding aggressively to allegations of insufficient patrol units. But, what happened to me was uncalled for . . .
I rode my bike to Apple Tree Market, was unknowingly “red lighted” for a block and detained in the parking lot by two cops. I saw the flashing lights and thought they were responding to a crime at the grocery store, until they walked in my direction.
I asked if they were “looking for me?” and was startled when they responded “yes”!
All because I did not have a red tail light or affixed light on my bike. I showed them the hand held flashlight I used, because I forgot to turn off my bike light after riding in early morning fog the day before, and the battery died.
I don’t know if they’re the same two cops referred to at the meeting, rookies new to the OB Beat – one is a tall shaved head guy who was actually quite nice and appeared somewhat embarrassed when he asked the cocky little guy if he actually was gonna “run me”. He stayed outside on watch . . . like I was gonna flee the scene! . . .
I asked “was it necessary to pursue me with flashing lights and detain me like this?”, and he said I was going faster than a vehicle behind me, so they red-lighted him to pull over so they didn’t lose me.
They took my ID, ran a criminal check, but didn’t issue a ticket.
How embarrassing! When I was approached by a store manager and several customers who wanted to know what I did wrong, they were appalled. Responses ranged from “why aren’t they patrolling the wall” or “looking for peepers, gropers and rapists?”
So anyway, I sent an email to Western Division with the Bicycle Equipment Code (I was not in violation). When I emailed Western Division, I said my intent was not to complain or create strife, just wanted clarification on the bike equipment law, and to pass on the negative commentary I heard about local cops the evening before. Of course, very tactfully, I don’t need them breathing down my neck. Now I understand the reluctance or avoidance, voiced by many of the attendees, to involve the police.
I’m 59 years old, lived in OB 14+ years, am very visible on the street, the beach, my back yard (Dog Beach parking lot), either walking or biking every day. I don’t know how many cops are assigned to OB, but know it’s a desirable area and their choice to remain or request a different beat every 6 months. Most choose to stay,and should recognize locals whose only contact was to report crimes and appear as a witness (a rarity these days).
I ride my bike to Newport bars and always marvel at the lack of traffic on a bar-lined street, mostly cabs and an occasional cop.There’s relatively little crime in OB (crime index indicates 50%-75% less than nearby beach and affluent communities), and a noticeable lack of policing.
Until recently. Now I see cops with a frequency never before seen, probably due to the negative community response over the recent rash of sex crimes. Last night I was awakened at 2 a.m. by the helicopter that hovered above for 10 minutes, and made one announcement I couldn’t understand. I turned on the scanner and heard no reported incidents in OB.
I believe SDPD’s sudden vigilance is a demonstration of unnecessary presence, in response to citizens taking matter into their own hands. I’m usually not anti-police, but what happened to me was extreme – when there’s a bunch of homeless assholes sitting on the wall, skateboarders w/out lights in the middle of the street on cell phones, and sketchy people dumpster diving and rummaging for cans in the alleys.
I am still livid over this.
UPDATE: I received a nice reply from Western Division Community Relations this morning. The officer confirmed I was correct – only a rear reflector is required on bicycles – and appreciated my efforts to look up the Equipment Code. I’m generally NOT “anti-police”, and the fact that OB’s crime stats are far less than neighboring communities should be viewed positively, and the recent sexual related incidents a rarity.