Letter to the Community: Mayor Bob Whalen

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Dear Laguna Beach Community,

Mayor Bob Whalen

I was pleased to hear of the positive progress being made by our police department in our annual crime statistics report from Laguna Beach Police Chief Jeff Calvert at the March 21 City Council meeting. With the support of the city council and city manager, our police department continues to enhance efforts to provide excellent public safety, lower crime rates, and ensure a high quality of life for residents, businesses, and visitors in Laguna Beach. 

Crime statistics serve as an important tool and provide benchmarks so we may leverage the strengths of our police department, identify areas for improvement and ensure we continue to provide exceptional service to the community. During the report, the police chief reported a 2% decrease in violent and property crime in the city when comparing 2021 and 2022 statistics. In 2022, our police department responded to 41,000 calls for service and exceeded national goals for response times for calls. Our police department made a total of 1,165 arrests, with the top three being DUI/alcohol, drugs, and disorderly conduct; the top three crash factors were speeding, unsafe lane changes, and alcohol; and lastly, the top three parking violations were missing or expired registration tabs, street sweeping, and expired parking lot permits.

Our police department continues to partner with the Office of Traffic Safety for direct enforcement operations for pedestrian and bicycle safety, speed enforcement and driving under the influence operations. The department has also partnered with Alcohol Beverage Control to provide responsible beverage service training for bar and restaurants and conducted several “Know Your Limit” campaigns to educate the public on intoxication levels.   

It was also great to hear about so many community outreach events continuing in 2023 like the Citizens Academy, Coffee With a Cop and Neighborhood Watch meetings as our police department works to strengthen its connection with the community. Speaking of connection with the community, our new peer support K9 Cooper is quickly becoming the community’s favorite city employee as he makes his rounds to assist in employee wellness and community engagement and to help comfort victims, witnesses, and community members exposed to trauma. Kudos to our city manager Shohreh Dupuis and police chief Calvert for their work in creating this program and recruiting Cooper to fill a need in our community.

Over the past several months, our police department has also engaged in a strong and proactive recruitment effort to fill vacancies that are yielding positive results. The police department currently has 54 of our 57 budgeted sworn positions filled. Additionally, four entry-level police recruit candidates have started the police academy, and we have 23 recruit candidates who passed the physical agility test and written examination and will be interviewed in the next few weeks. I am also pleased to announce that the department is increasing its traffic staff to four motor officers. Two of the four motor officers are in the process of completing specialized training and will primarily focus on loud noise and traffic-related issues, including speeding, which are negatively impacting our city. We currently have five full-time park rangers to address quality of life issues in neighborhoods and parks most impacted by visitors. We have three additional full-time park ranger applicants in background checks. This will increase our staffing to eight full-time park rangers by summer and allow us to dedicate two to South Laguna full-time now that we have taken over the beaches there from the county.

Laguna Beach is already a very safe place to live and work, and thanks to the men and women of our police department, the city is safer this year than last year. I am thankful for the outstanding service and tireless dedication of our entire Laguna Beach Police Department team and want to commend them for the excellent work that they do every day! If you see one of our officers on the street or at the beach, please extend your thanks to them for the great work that they do for us.  

Sincerely, Bob Whalen – Mayor of Laguna Beach

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2 COMMENTS

  1. It’s laudable that policing efforts seem to be having positive effects in terms of crime reduction and improved quality of life. While the Mayor is simply highlighting the information that was provided by the Police department, it would have been more useful if the PD’s statistics had been normalized on a per capita basis, and (as has been done in previous years) presented in comparison to our neighboring cities. The presentation given makes it quite difficult to discern whether LB is doing better on a per capita weighted basis over time, and how our PD is performing relative to neighboring cities’ PDs.

  2. Michael, comparing us to neighboring cities is a useless exercise. Every demographer knows there are many qualitative differences that need to be factored in because Laguna is a unique resort destination that funnels so many in, out, and through town. And yes, we are full of your dreaded bars, restaurants and nightlife that attract all kinds of miscreants from out of town. The only useful measure is year over year changes, and in an increasingly violent and chaotic world, be grateful for the stewardship of Police Chief Jeff Calvert and City Manager Shohreh. You lost on your overwrought and Draconian Measure Q because an overwhelming majority of residents support positive change. Don’t go looking for controversy where there is none.

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