As a former Orange County Deputy Sheriff, Costa Mesa Mayor, and California Assemblyman, I have dedicated my life to making Costa Mesa a safe and family friendly place to live. Because of this, I would like to set the record straight on the current crime issues in Costa Mesa.
First, let me say at the start that I fully support our Chief, our officers, and our firefighters in the work that they do, and I am incredibly grateful for their efforts. But, there are some very important issues at play that I would like to respectfully address.
To start, Proposition 47, which passed in 2014, reduced several felonies to misdemeanors-which has caused more people to be cited and released instead of incarcerated. Concurrently, the California legislature passed AB 109, with my very vocal opposition, which shifts long-term state prisoners to our local county jails. In essence, shifting the overcrowding problem from the state to the counties and decreasing the amount of time convicted individuals spend in jail. This is increasing crime statewide, not just in Costa Mesa. Criminals are getting ticket after ticket after ticket and they are coming right back here to Costa Mesa.
Due to this, simply stating that more police officers equals less crime is irresponsibly naïve.
Crime is far more complex than a lot of the simple rhetoric coming from the Genis, Stephens and Humphrey camp. Instead, we need a multi-faceted approach that supports our Police Chief, and the officers he commands, and specifically addresses the underlying cause to many of the strains on our police force.
One aspect that needs to be addressed is the many problem motels currently in Costa Mesa. These motels constantly require police attention, as the city receives hundreds of calls annually. To be fair, some people are down on their luck and stay at these motels. But, many of the residents are parolees, criminals, and drug offenders. Repurpose and revitalize the problem motels, and you are one step closer to removing the parolees, criminals, and drug offenders that reside there.
This is a real tangible way to reduce crime. And, one of the clear differences between Stephens, Genis, Humphrey, and Mensinger, Mansoor, and Ramos.
Next, I support giving our Chief the resources and officers he needs to do his job. Mayor Steve Mensinger and I have publicly supported hiring additional officers and he is currently doing so. This, like the repurposing/revitalization of the problem motels, is one potential avenue to mitigating crime in Costa Mesa. But keep in mind the real issue is quality officers. It takes time to do background checks, go through the academy, and then be trained in the field.
This leads me to my final point. There is a difference between supporting the public’s safety and supporting public employee public safety unions. And here is the reason you want quality officers.
Nearly four years ago, the Costa Mesa police union hired a law firm consisting of attorneys-most of which were former policer officers. So, one would assume, they had a good grasp on the law. During the negotiation process, they hired a private investigator-another former police officer. Last month, that individual just pled guilty to several felonies.
What did he admit to? Calling in a false DUI on council member Jim Righeimer and putting a GPS tracking device on council member Steve Mensinger’s car. Now, the Costa Mesa fire fighter union has hired one of the same attorneys from that same law firm. Why would they hire someone associated with the previous crimes if not to continue the same intimidation tactics?
This same union is heavily backing Stephens, Genis, and Humphrey in order to get more pay and benefits. That is what this is all about. They don’t want to mention to you the skyrocketing pension costs that the taxpayers are getting hit for at increasing numbers every year. And yes, full disclosure, I receive a pension. But, I want our pension system to be solvent, not bankrupt like in San Bernardino, Valejo, or Stockton. I don’t want Costa Mesa to be on that list.
So, as much as the Stephens, Genis, and Humphrey camp want to make this about public safety, they are instead making this about the public employee safety unions-a very different issue.
Crime is not a simple issue. But under the leadership of Mayor Steve Mensinger, Costa Mesa now has the fiscal capacity to increase public safety resources to combat these issues. Up until a couple of years ago you were paying over two million dollars a year to keep the helicopter up in the air a few hours a day. Santa Ana called us any time they needed it for only a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year. Who do you think got the better deal? Now we have that same arrangement with Huntington Beach, so Mayor Mensinger has saved you a couple of million dollars per year and you still get helicopter service.
He also passed two ordinances to go after violations at rehab homes which has caused some of the homes to mover or close. This is the type of leadership I want to continue if elected to council.
I’m proud to have played a small part in the positive changes being made in Costa Mesa. Together, we can continue to improve Costa Mesa.