Reader Rant: ‘Now I understand the reluctance by some in OB to involve the police.’

by on October 9, 2012 · 6 comments

in Civil Rights, Ocean Beach, Popular, Reader Rant

Apple Tree parking lot: “scene of the crime”.

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.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

OB Mercy October 9, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Hmmm…was just told by Roger at Bernie’s Bicycle Shop (see my story on them in today’s issue) that it is a $100 fine not to have a light on your bicycle. Maybe it’s just a reflector? I bought those flashing lights for my front and back when i was just there. I also have Xmas lights all over my tryke, battery operated, I want to make sure the cars see me. But the rate at which they speed around me is frightening. It’s almost as if they speed up just to get around you. Not good.


unWASHEdWalmaRtthONG October 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Cite the code that states it is necessary to have a light on a bike. I’ve ridden for years w/ & without the bike club, & most bikes in the club do not have the light. We mostly ride in daylight hours.


Tyler October 11, 2012 at 7:40 am

Wow. Quite the encounter. As ridiculous as that story is, I’m conflicted as to the increased police presence of late. On one hand I love the fact that OB is left on its own foe the most part, but on the other hand, I’m sick of punk teenagers and and sketchy folk who occupy my alley creating problems for myself, my girlfriend, and my neighbors.

This Summer was relatively quiet after the Respect OB campaign really seemed to have a lasting effect. Then, in August, things got horrible again. Constant defacing/littering/transients sleeping in my side yard. Neighbors had their air let out of all their tires multiple times. Bums threatening to “dump a body in the ocean.” Kids clearly drinking and driving while slamming on their horns at 2 AM.

How do we keep a happy medium of a relatively low police presence, but deter idiots from ruining our town? I’m hoping this new patrol here in the NW neighborhood is a start.


Bud Pillsbury October 11, 2012 at 10:08 am

Those yellow fliers I’ve seen in the alley next to Wonderland Laundry is a start. My street had bums until one of the neighbors came out with a baseball bat. They left. The increased police presence is ok but I wish they’d get out of their cars and enforce the ordinances against sleeping on the beach. They seem to enforce things only after something bad happens. After that guy got stabbed to death behind the AZ cops rousted the homeless on the beach for days. If they only did that on a regular basis OB would be a much better place.


bcsy October 13, 2012 at 6:39 pm

For years at the west end of saratoga, I call the cops for assistance, like when my apt was burglarized and my car stolen, park brawls at 1 am in the summer, skinheads on the beach attacking black folks, guys smoking meth in my garden- no help whatsoever. So myself and my neighbors started handling these idiots ourselves and it WORKED! we happened to be working men who surfed and were strong enough to manhandle troublemakers but it wasn’t our first choice, it was our only choice. Interesting how the cops were always around to write me a ticket for running the stop sign on saratoga and abbot on my bicycle or for skateboarding down santa maonica but when things got heavy, they were absent. I told officers time and time again that they were establishing relationships with long time residents and it might benefit everyone involved to lose the hardcore attitudes but they never cared. Now I have a family and rather than put my my hands on a tweaker, I will just shoot him. If the cops don’t come when I call, how can they tell me how to deal with an agressive drug addict on my lawn. I surf less and work more so I can afford a badass attorney to get me off and when the cops harrass me I mention their boss by name and I walk but I feel for the young kids out having a good time minding their own business that cant afford an attorney and dont have the connects that I do.


OB Mercy October 14, 2012 at 8:17 am

Wow, your comment really tells it all when it comes to the M.O. of the police around here. It was a bit shocking and sad to me that as citizens, we have to take law into our own hands. I’ve really become depressed about living here in OB lately. I don’t feel safe anymore here, at night especially so. I love riding my tryke around, but won’t do it at night anymore. I waited so many yrs to live here. I could go back to the San Fernando Valley for this abuse.


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