Pubdate: Thu, 09 Aug 2012
Source: Times-Herald, The (Vallejo, CA)
Copyright: 2012 The Times-Herald
Author: James D. Davis


An open letter to the Ad Hoc Citizen Public Safety Advisory Committee:

Marijuana vs. violence

Of course the greatest need is to stop the violence, shootings, drug
dealing (I don't mean the marijuana clinics; I mean real drug dealing
on the streets), burglaries, robberies, vehicle thefts, and way down
at the bottom, prostitution and vandalism. The police should patrol --
either in cars or walking or bicycling -- to establish a presence.
Arresting people for selling marijuana in clinics is silly, wasteful,
and embarrassing for grownup cops. They won't even come out to take a
report on vandalism, and they don't investigate burglaries or
robberies. But they bust marijuana clinics.

Neighborhood blight

Better order and control of the city is needed. That means not only
policing by police but also by code enforcement. Focus on abandoned
and neglected properties, not on marijuana clinics. The criminals are
not the people selling marijuana to un-carded patients; the criminals
are the property owners and banks who allow our properties to decline.
If marijuana patients hang around clinics or smoke in public, the
police should hustle them along, like they hustle along drinkers
outside a bar or a convenience store. Don't bring in the SWAT team to
bust another clinic, arrest its operators, confiscate all the
property, prosecute them in court, and forfeit the tax revenue. That
is stupid.

Bring suit against property owners and banks that don't maintain their
property. Let Advertisement the Bay Area know that if you own property
in Vallejo you'd better take care of it or the city will be all over
you with lawsuits. It's not complicated law; it just takes a staff to
do it. Take the money wasted on busting clinics and hire three new
assistant city attorneys -- two for neglected properties and one for
prostitution and vandalism. Fire some cops if necessary.

What goes around ...

In the upcoming negotiations with the police union, make plain to them
the consequences of having cost the city $6 million with a cute
contract trick (they now require notice of intent to negotiate,
despite 12 prior years of negotiations without notice). The city
neglected to read the contract. Now it is time for the police to learn
what taking advantage means. I can hear the cop conversation: "We
can't do that. We know they want to negotiate ... Yes, we can do it.
The contract says we can do it. They're screwed. Ha, ha, ha!"

Cops as the enemy

In addition to cleaning up the town (really cleaning it up, not by
busting tax-paying clinics), the cops should integrate into the
community. They are hated. They should go to schools, churches,
basketball games, waterfront celebrations, and mix with the community.
The police cannot do their job unless they have the community behind
them, and our cops don't. In that connection, it is my strongest hope
that the committee can investigate the department and require
transparency and accountability. A shooting a few years ago of an
unarmed man making a film was closed up without police accountability.
They stiffed me, telling me there will be a hearing and findings, but
I was not entitled to see them unless I filed an FOIA suit. Ditto with
a more recent cop shooting of an unarmed man. The story never appears
in the paper after the investigation and findings are made, and almost
certainly there was something stinky about both of these killings. I
want there to be an independent body that reviews police conduct, not
the DA. Without transparency, the community will continue to look at
the police as the enemy (and busting marijuana clinics adds a whole
new crop of cop-haters, the last thing the cops needed).

Cops need common sense priorities.

Set priorities for the cops. Throw off the sentiment that "The chief
must be allowed to do his job without political influence." The city
charter puts the city manager over the chief (and the people are over
the city manager). The city manager can make a list for the chief to
follow, priorities. The council can make that list for the city
manager if he's confused. Marijuana clinics will be at the bottom of
police concerns, except for clearing away the flotsam and jetsam that
collects around the clinics. We, the people, can tell our chief how to
do his job. It's not up to him. We pay his salary, not the city
manager or the council or the treasurer. He is paid with our tax
money. And we told him plainly how we feel about marijuana clinics
with our overwhelming support for taxation of the clinics. But he
didn't listen.

I'm afraid to carry more than $20 when I walk the streets. I have to
accompany residents of my building to the ATM because they are old and
frail and likely to be attacked by thugs.

We need cops walking around or driving around. Especially at night.
Downtown is scary.

James D. Davis

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