(The letter also was sent to elected city officials, the city manager and police chief.)
Until we can figure out how to legislate good behavior, our police are tasked with the role of providing adult supervision to those who need it.
With 6 million visitors per year, some in need of more adult supervision than others, our police department is spread thin. They do a good job, but we need to provide the financial resources to allow them a chance to meet our expectations.
The season is just beginning, and it has been grey and overcast. Nevertheless, through the miracle of “social networks” or whatever, Laguna Beach, and especially South Laguna beaches like Tablerock and Thousand Steps, have become destination resorts for the day trippers coming, all too often, from places where parents apparently have proved deficient in teaching personal hygiene, good table manners, and other social skills.
So, unfortunately, it falls to our police department to fill the gap in their education. Having our police simply being visible, providing a visible deterrent, seems to be an effective, though admittedly expensive, way to instill needed social skills in some of our visitors.
Entrances to West Street and Tablerock beaches, littered with trash, are just small, everyday examples of all too common sights for the residents.
One photo is simply a collection of trash left behind for us to enjoy; the other shows the person in the white t-shirt after using the bush on his left as a combination urinal and trash container, across the street from the Village Green Park, which is popular with moms and young children.
Six million tourists versus 35 field officers spread over seven days and nights per week and over 83 miles of streets and seven miles of inviting coastline sounds like bad odds for the good guys. Just doing the easy math, it takes about five people to staff a position 24/7, so the odds are really 6 million “tourists” versus seven officers on average on the streets in heavy traffic at any one time.
The police make excellent use of “force multiplication” through civilian employees, volunteers, explorers, reserves, and seasonal positions, but we still must provide adequate financial resources to allow them to do their job.
Growth in police personnel has been 1 percent per year for the last 30 years, while visitors have doubled.
We are out-numbered.
As you consider this year’s budget. I hope you will make public safety a top priority.
John Thomas, Laguna Beach
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