A few weeks ago I received an invitation to join “Nextdoor” by a friend that lives on Rosecrans in the 92106 zip code. Since she lives several miles from me I ignored her request, but in the mail yesterday I received another invitation to join “Nextdoor – Sunset Cliffs.”
I was now intrigued to find out what this group was all about and did some checking, only to find it was similar to a “Neighborhood Watch Group” but more specific to the area in which I live. It was referred to as “a private neighborhood website”. It went on to say that “Nextdoor helps you to get to know your neighbors; share local recommendations and advice; lend, borrow and give away; keep your neighborhood safe and stay informed.” It sounded like something I might be interested in and so I joined. I was pleased to see that some of the information comes directly from the Police Department.
I signed up just in time, because the 2nd meeting of the group was going to be that night– one day after signing up – at nearby St. Peter’s Church on Sunset Cliffs. The meeting was to be conducted by Laura Sasaran, Paul Ward, and the guest speaker was San Diego Police Community Officer David Surwillo. There were 16 residents of the neighborhood that were in attendance and the general area that we lived in was from Pt. Loma Avenue to Santa Barbara; Sunset Cliffs to Ladera and homes in that general area. We were all cordially met at the door by Laura and Paul, and made to feel welcome immediately.
The first part of the meeting was a very brief discussion of having the “Estates” torn down on the south side of Sunset Cliffs. This had been an eyesore for many months, and it harbored a great deal of illicit activities. One of the things that I was not aware of before was that there is no radio reception in the general area, and in order for the police department to call for help an officer must leave the area and go somewhere where the reception is better. Officer Surwillo had nothing but praise for Lt. Stone, for the work that she has been doing in the area.
Many of us were aware of the burglaries that have taken place in the daylight hours in the Sunset Cliffs area. Although it seemed to us that there were more than ever, Officer Surwillo said that home break-ins have actually been reduced 7%. But many of the attendees were either victims of these break-ins, or knew of a neighbor that had lost their belongings.
One of the astounding facts that was brought to our attention was how many people have security alarms but do not use them. In one neighborhood – not ours – there were 32 break-ins and only two of them were though screen doors. The others had security alarms but for one reason or another, had not been set, or were not working. THIRTY burglaries that could have been avoided!
A few of the hints given to us are just common sense. If we go on vacation we should let a neighbor know; if trash day is Monday have someone take out the barrels in the morning and bring them back in in the evening, EVEN IF THEY ARE EMPTY. Make sure that newspapers are picked up; if cars are not in a garage have someone move them every day – put the black one where the brown one was on day one; change the position on day two, etc. Leave lights, radio’s and television sets on timers.
Some advice was given: beware of people knocking on your door with something to sell. Some of these people will try the door knobs if no one answers the door. Buy a good screen door; one made out of metal. Have it installed by a professional inside the door frame.
Another interesting fact presented to us was the difference between “Arrestable” and “Citable.” For example, if you saw someone looking over your fence into your backyard and you called 911, the fact that they might have contraband on them is a citable offense, not an arrestable one. Why? Because they did not do anything. Looking over the fence with intent is not something they can be arrested for. But if they can be cited for items that might be found on them, in their car, etc. If you make a report to the police department, it is imperative that you get the case number of your report. Usually all that is needed is the last 5 numbers of the report.
When the police are called to do an investigation of wrong-doings in a home, there are many facets that are looked into. Frequently there are code violations that are looked into. For example, they look to see if the home is safe; if it is up to code; if there are the correct building permits; if the occupancy exceeds the law; the number of licensed drivers living at the home, etc. They look to see if there are narcotics on the property; if it appears that drug sales are being conducted, etc. It takes some time before any of these infractions can be utilized to close a house. The investigation may go on for months, but the end result usually is a complete resolution to the problem.
Officer Surwillo freely gave up his time – on his day off – to meet with us. I think the entire group felt a wee bit safer; a little bit more knowledgeable as to what was going on in the neighborhood, and will spread the word about this organization. It was two hours well spent.