Op-ed piece on public safety ‘has it all wrong’

Re. “Commentary: Voters want ‘clean, safe, peaceful, quiet places to live’,” (Daily Pilot Sept. 13): I am a 44-year resident and homeowner in Costa Mesa. I’m also a retired law enforcement member (25 years) and then operated my own private investigation company for 20 years, all the time with an eye focused on my community and public safety. Allan Mansoor, who authored the piece, has it all wrong!

While City Council candidate Mansoor touts the last five years of public safety as being “great,” I would like to infuse some facts.

A hiring freeze was instituted in 2011 with the City Council majority, including now-Mayor Steve Mensinger, voting yes. Layoff notices were issued to Costa Mesa employees, including 15 sworn police officers.

The staffing levels from then on have been dangerously low because of that action. The once-highly rated Costa Mesa Police Department suffered greatly in future recruitment. The department, which had the choice applicants, became less desirable.

There was a mass exodus of highly trained and experienced officers, investigators and staff. The traffic unit, which was known countywide for its excellence, was diminished. The gang, vice, narcotics and K-9 units were also diminished and the ABLE helicopter was completely disbanded.

Proposition 47 and Assembly Bill 109 have influenced the crime increase throughout the state of California. But have you asked yourself why Costa Mesa has one of the largest increases, percentage wise, in Orange County?

The diminished staffing and the loss of experienced officers and investigators have been responsible for the increase in these stats. As of Sept. 13, CMPD has 113 sworn officers, including command staff, with four on injury status. Please keep in mind the allocation is 136 sworn, and with the recent crime increase, this is inadequate.

We have an incredible and dedicated police department and ever-vigilant residents focused on safety, despite not having all the tools necessary. A large portion of our patrol officers who are on a learning curve; they are great officers but experience will make them better.

Police Chief Rob Sharpnack is doing an incredible job trying to re-create the department of prior years but I believe his efforts will be better served with a new council perspective.

I support our public safety personnel, both fire and police, and am amazed and thankful for their dedication, especially with all the council rhetoric.

On Sept. 22, at 6 p.m., a public safety town hall will be held at the Costa Mesa Community Center, 1845 Park Ave. There will be information available on many subjects and a question-and-answer panel.

Mary Spadoni

Costa Mesa

This appeared in the Daily Pilot September 20, 2016. Commentary posted with permission from the author.