“America’s Finest?”

by on April 17, 2009 · 5 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Homelessness, Ocean Beach, San Diego

by Rhythm Rancher

I was reading the “Letters to the Editor” in the latest issue of City Beat this morning when I came across this letter from a fellow OBcean. While I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, the fact that he’s a City of San Diego employee who “deals” with the homeless was sad to me to say the least.

Stray dogs and addicts


In regards to your article, “When cops attack” http://sdcitybeat.com/cms/story/detail/when_cops_attack/7898/ [“Editorial,” March 25], there are several things to clarify. First, I’m not a cop, but a city firefighter who covers the same beat. I deal with the homeless on a daily basis and few are close to being the kind, gentle, unfortunate souls you would like to portray. True, there are those that are victims of unfortunate circumstances and would like to get their lives back together. But the sad truth is that, for the most part, they are drunks and addicts who have shown up in San Diego for the warm weather and handouts and have no plan of doing anything other than living on the street, free from society’s laws and standards.

Several years ago, a local TV media outlet did a story on the services offered by the city and various groups and why there were so few takers. The answer was that these people do not want to give up the ability to be drunk all day. Many are aware of the consequences of such a lifestyle but couldn’t care less.

Sound harsh and prejudiced yet? Unfortunately, it’s the truth, and the more programs that are offered, such as free food and water handouts without some kind of rules toward sobriety, the more people will come from colder areas of the country. Like stray dogs, if you feed them, they will come and come and keep hanging around waiting for the next handout.

That being said, there are cases of excessive force and poor judgment by authorities. But you must also consider that the homeless are sometimes pretty unsavory people, often times felons who have no regard for the law or common decency. Perhaps if you poked a little deeper than your old “Homeless Person of the Week” column, you would probably uncover the ugly truth about San Diego’s homeless. One suggestion: Do a ride along with officers who cover the Downtown beat or even the HOT unit (Homeless Outreach Team). One tip, though—don’t reveal the fact that you’re a journalist to the people you encounter or you’ll never get the straight truth.

(name deleted) Ocean Beach

I’m going to out on a limb here and guess that this Firefighter’s apparent lack of empathy towards his fellow man means that he’s been blessed enough to have never been homeless. His contempt for homelessness however is fairly blatant in his statement that he has to “deal with the homeless on a daily basis”.

Hold on a second, aren’t you a paid public servant? I’m sorry, but you don’t get to pick and choose who the public are, or decide who has to follow which laws you favor either because as you also stated, you’re “not a cop”. You are however paid to protect all of our citizens no matter how destitute they may or may not be. Maybe you picked the wrong career?

You seem to have a real us against them attitude and I’m feeling pretty ripped-off right now because my taxes are paying for such a myopic point of view right here in what’s supposedly America’s Finest City. I talk and interact with many homeless folks on a daily basis and while they may need to live by their collective wits more than some, and do their shopping at “Alley Mart” instead of the nearest conglomerate, they are no different than you or I except for their circumstances, and that includes something you left out which is mental illness. You ever hear of Stand Down? Homeless Vets? That’s right, each person has their own set of circumstances and shouldn’t be conveniently lumped into either the “drunks”, “addicts” or the “stray dog” categories.

Look, I’m sure you must be a decent firefighter and I’m not going to pretend that I know what you go through on a daily basis, but this city needs good, quality public servants. Please don’t forget that the power of love can set a mighty fine example to your fellow human beings. I would think that even a “stray dog” needs to have a bone thrown its way now and then to feel loved.

That’s all David “the Waterman” Ross was doing when he was “allegedly” pummeled by an over zealous San Diego Police officer who is really only paid to protect its citizens, and not harm or as in
your case, degrade them.

Got Love?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

OB Joe April 17, 2009 at 8:30 am

I’m with you on this one, RR.


lane tobias April 17, 2009 at 10:39 am

I am too. There is a lot more to the homeless population than just drunks and addicts who came here for sunshine. As a firefighter, has he never seen a family who lost their home in a tragedy suddenly become homeless?


Molly April 17, 2009 at 1:02 pm

you’re a brave lad or lassie to write this.


Wireless Mike April 19, 2009 at 3:29 am

San Diego is blessed with a mild climate, and this is a city of transplants (many from cold climates). San Diego advertises the warm climate to attract tourists and new residents to come here. So, if a person is forced to live outdoors, of course they will move to a mild climate like San Diego. Do we only share our climate with people who have money?

And living on the streets, constantly harassed and humiliated, that could drive almost anybody to drink.


Old Hermit Dave April 19, 2009 at 11:04 pm

This fireman dude sounds like the same kind of do-gooder that decided the people who work at the OB Auto Zone should not be allowed to leave the store and check your battery anymore. I suggest these kind of people would be far happier in La Jolla or Del Mar than laid back OB.


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