Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Dec 29th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

May Day Riots

riot-policeA community at a crossroads
Recent violence and attacks on downtown have done more than torn through the fabric of our historically peaceful community; it has left many residents simply asking, “What happened to Santa Cruz I know?” In search of easy answers we often look toward short-term policy changes (more police overtime) or easy scapegoats (elected officials). But a micro approach, while satiating the initial visceral need to do something, really does little to address the underlying issue. That issue, simply stated, is that our community is no longer the community we knew.

The community is at a crossroads, socially, economically and even politically. Santa Cruz is not, and really will not, be the town so many remembered. New generations of residents are challenging historically held notions about communal priorities and recent incidents have forced us into a dialogue that was a long-time coming. But this is not simply generational.  Long-term community leaders are seeing years of hard work collapse from the influx of gangs, increases in violent crime and an overall degradation of quality-of-life.

Law enforcement agencies and elected officials are reflections of community priorities. The department’s aim is not to espouse a specific opinion on these issues but rather to encourage the community to work toward a consensus on what the priorities should be moving forward. We need to realize that hard choices and tradeoffs will be necessary to accommodate the changing priorities being asked for by many in our community. Ultimately, as a community, we need to take responsibility for our decisions and priorities and how they are reflected in a number of outcomes.

We need to come together with the understanding that law enforcement can mitigate but not eliminate many of the problems that we face. Additionally, we need to accept that many of the problems (including gang violence) are a new permanent reality for our city and not just something that faces larger municipalities.

As a community we need to start asking difficult questions that do not allow for simple solutions. What historic policies are incongruent with the changing needs of our residents? What tradeoffs, if any, are we willing to make in regards to new ordinances or policies that many believe could have an impact on liberties? Do changing community priorities need to be reflected in changing police allocation efforts?

All of these questions are value-based with inherent risks and rewards. Are we willing to accept that externalities (positive and negative) are a reality of priority and value-based policy making? It is unsustainable to use traditional models and approaches to our modern problems. This includes an historic tolerance of “low-priority” law enforcement issues (drug use and quality-of-life issues), resistance toward sustainable economic development and even some antipathy toward law enforcement in general.

If we want to preserve these historic models are we willing to also accept that tolerance of some issues can lead toward the spiraling of larger issues? Ultimately, are we as a community willing to accept shared responsibility for decisions we make about priorities? Will we be willing to look at how these priorities, some of which actually provide the uniqueness that so many appreciate about our community, impact quality-of-life? Our department will continue to work to reflect the priorities of the community. But we ask that we all look at how priorities impact outcomes and that we as a community share responsibility in those outcomes. That we share in successes from those priorities and share responsibility in the shortcomings as well.

In the last 12 months, our department and our elected officials have responded to growing concerns by taking significant measures to address gang violence, drug issues, women’s safety and illicit behavior downtown. Community organizations have formed to mobilize people for positive change. Yet we all recognize that more can be done to stem the tide of problems we face. But more importantly, we all have a role in establishing the groundwork for a new community that may look different from one that many of us were accustomed to.

Without question, everyone in our community needs to feel that our city is a place where personal safety is of paramount importance.  We commit every day to this vision and ask that the community at-large join us in this endeavor.

It is our goal to maintain our high level of accountability and accessibility to you, the community that we serve. The true measurement of an agency is on the impact we leave for those who come after us.  With your continued partnership we will always strive to ensure that the outcomes of our work provide a better community for all.


Zach Friend is Principal Management Analyst and Spokesman for the Santa Cruz Police Department.

 

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Dancing In the Rain

District Attorney Bob Lee’s death in October stunned the Santa Cruz community, but he had battled cancer fiercely—and privately—for more than a decade. Now one of his closest friends reveals the remarkable inside story

 

Our Gifts - Fiery Sacrificial Lights to One Another

Wednesday is Christmas Eve, Hanukkah ends and the Moon is in Aquarius, calling for the new world to take shape at midnight. Thursday morning, the sun, at the Tropic of Capricorn, begins moving northward. The desire currents are stilled. A great benediction of spiritual force (Capricorn’s Rays 1, 3, 7) streams into Earth. Temple bells ring out. The heavens bend low; the Earth is lifted up to the Light. Angels and Archangels chant, “On Earth, peace, goodwill to all.” As these forces stream into the Earth they assume long swirling lines of light, in the likeness of the Madonna and Child. The holy child is born. Let our hearts be “impressed” with and hold this picture, especially because Christmas may be difficult this year. Christmas Day is void of course moon (v/c moon), which means we may feel somewhat disconnected from one another. It’s difficult to connect in a v/c moon. Try anyway. Mercury joins Pluto in Capricorn. Uh oh … we don’t bring up the past containing any dark and difficult issues. We are to attempt new ways of communicating—expressing aspirations and love for one another, replacing wounding, sadness, lostness, and hurts of the past. Play soothing music, pray together, have the intention for peace, harmony and goodwill. Don’t be surprised if things feel out of control and/or arguments arise. We remember, before a new harmony emerges, chaos and crisis come first to clear the air. We are to be the harmonizers. Christmas evening is more harmonious, less difficult, more of what Christmas should be— radiations of love, sharing, kindness, compassion and care. Sunday, Feast Day of the Holy Family, is surprising. Wednesday is New Year’s Eve, the last day of 2014. Taurus moon, a stabilizing energy, ushers in the New Year. Happy New Year, everyone! Peace to everyone. Let us realize we are gifts radiating diamond light to one another. Living sacrificial flames!

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Let My People Go

There’s a lot to like in Ridley Scott’s maligned ‘Exodus’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Best Bites of 2014

A look back at the year in good taste

 

What downtown business is good for both one-stop shopping and last-minute gifts?

The Homeless Garden Project store. Because it is a community effort and has really useful and beautiful things, and allows you to connect with a lot of folks who are doing great work in Santa Cruz. Miriam Greenberg, Santa Cruz, UCSC Professor

 

Vino Tabi Winery

One of Santa Cruz’s most happening areas to go wine tasting is in the westside’s Swift Street Courtyard complex. Ever since a group of about a dozen wineries got together and formed Surf City Vintners (SCV), the place has been a hive of activity, and a wine-tasting mecca. Adding to the mix is the lively Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing beer company—making Swift Street Courtyard a perfect spot for a glass of wine or a pitcher of ale.

 

Betty’s Eat Inn

Yes, she’s a real person; no, this isn’t her