The bankrupt city of San Bernardino, CA voted last week to slash its fiscal-year budget by $26 million, to close up a $52.4 million shortfall. No, $26 million isn’t enough, and we’ll get to that in a minute. But the $26 million will have a significant impact on the operating budget for police and fire, and that’s got folks in a tizzy.
Violent crime in San Bernardino is especially high, twice that of California as a whole. San Bernardino’s 260 officers compare favorably to the 214 on the Gilbert, AZ police force, a city in the same size category (200,000-215,000). But Gilbert’s crime numbers are lower – much lower. Cities with crime rates similar to San Bernardino’s, like Spokane, WA, Birmingham, AL, Richmond, VA, and Rochester, NY, have much larger police forces, running to sworn-officer rosters between 700 and 800.
So the San Bernardino city attorney advised citizens at a community meeting in November to “Go home, lock your doors, and load your guns.”
So, who’s in trouble? The criminals who commit the violent crimes? The citizens who lock their doors and load their guns?
Of course not:
In an interview Thursday, Penman said that he stands behind that advice, and he’s gotten nothing but positive responses from residents since then. He said the only criticism he’s received has been from the media…
“I can understand how people who don’t live or work in the City of San Bernardino and don’t hear the sirens every night, the gun shots, the helicopters overhead, as many San Bernardino residents do, might not understand the significance when you have people being killed in their homes,” he said.
Penman said he is only repeating what police officers have told him: that the city can provide only basic law enforcement services due to recent cuts.
“We need to stop giving people false hope,” Penman said. “We have to start encouraging people to protect themselves. The situation is that bad in San Bernardino.”
There’s a whole lot more about the bankruptcy in the original piece, especially about the fiscal demands of the bloated pension system.
According to the US Census, San Bernardino is 50% Latino. I say this not to highlight who are the perpetrators of violent crime (though there is that), but who are the victims.
Way to go, California.