Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Sep 05th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Looking For Answers

news 2Watsonville Youth City Council plans to survey police

The Watsonville Police Department will face questioning by the Watsonville Youth City Council (WYCC) this month.

The survey of officers is the first move by the youth council to follow up on a survey they conducted during October and November of 723 high school students about how safe kids feel in different parts of the City of Watsonville, and how they interact with the police. 

Fifty percent of survey respondents said that they would not report a crime in progress, and 29 percent said they would not approach police for any reason.

Allowing the police to share how they view this dynamic seemed to be the next logical move for the 11-member council. The youth will attend police roll call meetings on Jan. 9 and Jan. 23 to carry out the surveys and will present their findings at their next council meeting in early February.

Ceiba College Preparatory Academy student and councilmember Juanita Alvarez hopes that the paired surveys can help bridge a gap in how the two groups view the state of the city and venues to solve problems. She says that a lack of police officers actually living within the city is a huge obstacle to residents of all ages feeling comfortable dealing with them.

“Instead of understanding we are trying to help when we report something, they judge us,” says Alvarez of police attitudes she has observed. “They might have dealt with gang issues before, but someone who lives locally would know better what is going on here.”

The survey will kick off with police filling out index cards with lines they commonly say when dealing with a group of teenagers. The WYCC will then give them feedback on how youths would view the conversation. They hope this will help bridge the communication gap they have noticed in their ongoing investigation.

Watsonville Mayor Eduardo Montesino—of the “other council,” as the youth council calls it—agrees that there is a serious issue with recruiting local police officers, and believes that addressing that could be one piece of bringing the community and police together in the long term.

“This is a problem in Watsonville, Capitola, Santa Cruz—everywhere,” says Montesino. “They come to clock in and out, and they aren’t involved in the community here.”

Around 30 Watsonville high school students are currently in the Watsonville cadet program, which trains them for careers in law enforcement. Watsonville Police Chief Manuel Solano says he

is trying to expand the cadet program to admit more participants.

“We almost always have that many cadets with some on a waiting list,” he says. “I was a police cadet. Many of us from Watsonville who are officers went through that program.”

Solano says that only about 10 percent of the force lives in the city despite success recruiting cadets into duty. He enjoys living “three minutes from work,” but says even officers who grew up locally look elsewhere for residency.

“Housing is very dense in Watsonville and prices are higher than San Benito or parts of Monterey County,” he says. “Sometimes it’s just to have space from work. After dealing with confrontations or keeping some sort of peace on duty, it can be hard to go out to dinner afterward without being approached.”

However, he counters the idea that police are not involved in the community.

“Our officers work very hard, often on their own to create ways to reach out,” Solano says.

The Police Activities League (PAL) is one example. Through sports, officers find that kids learn acceptable way to act and just generally burn off excess energy.

Alvarez and WYCC Mayor Dulce Sixtos hope that by opening communication lines between their peers and the police, more kids will jump through the necessary hoops and go on to become the force that many of them are now afraid to speak to.

Solano sees benefits in having a local presence off duty, but feels it is unrealistic to dictate where officers can live. The WYCC is not officially proposing policy ideas, but rather aims to get to know police better.

Montesino is very excited about this new voice, and has high hopes for the project.  The 11-member council has representatives in grades nine through 12 from Pajaro Valley High School, Watsonville High School and Ceiba.

“This is really important because 33 percent of people here are under 18 [years old] and if you push it up to 24 [years old], it’s more than 40 percent,” Montesino says.

Solano looks forward to taking the WYCC’s survey and delving further into the data they gathered from their peers.

“If kids don’t feel safe in a certain park, we want to find out why,” he says. “The first survey was a good start but didn’t go that deep.”

Comments (1)Add Comment
Good listening skills important for the police
written by John E. Colby, January 06, 2013
Listening skills are especially important for police officers because communication is fundamental to preventing crime, treating victims and interviewing witnesses/suspects. Watsonville's teenagers are probably much more savvy about crime there than its police officers.

Listening to the community, especially teenagers, is key for any police department to be successful in deterring crime. It is also important to respect a community to effectively police it. Listening is fundamental to being respectful.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

You Are What You Post

Online personality algorithms put astrological profiles to shame, but UCSC psychologists are raising questions about sharing personal data

 

Venus Direct, Mercury Retro Soon, Honoring Our Labors

As Burning Man (nine days, Aug. 30-Sept. 7 in the sign of Virgo) burns in the hot white desert sands, a petal of the rose created by retrograde Venus and the twelve-petaled Sun in Virgo’s petals unfold. All of us are on the burning ground (Leo) in the womb (cave of the heart) of the mother (Virgo), gestating for humanity once again (each year) a new state of consciousness. Both Virgo and Cancer, feminine (receptive energies) signs, are from our last solar system (Pleiades). When humanity first appeared on Earth we were nurtured by the mother, a matriarchy of energies (on islands in the Pacific). Eve, Isis and Mary are part of the lineages of our ancient Mother. Overseen by the Pleiades, the Earth (matter, mater, the mother) in that last solar system was imbued with intelligence (Ray 3). As we move toward autumn, another mother, Ceres realizes she has mere weeks left with her beloved daughter, Persephone. Persimmon and pomegranate trees prepare for autumn, their colors signs of hope as the light each day continues to dim. Sunday, Venus in Leo turns stationary direct, yet continues in her shadow until Oct. 9 (when retrograde Mercury turns direct). Slowly our newly assessed values emerge from the Venus retrograde. We thought in Venus retro how to use our resources more effectively. Mercury retrogrades Sept. 17. Monday is Labor Day. Let us honor the labor of everyone, all life a “labor.” Let us honor Labor Day and all those who have “served” (labored for) us this past year. We honor their labors. We honor the labor of our parents, those who have loved us. We honor our own labors, too. We are all in service, we are all laboring. We are all valuable.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 4

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Sushi Garden

Local sushi empire expands to Scotts Valley

 

Do you overshare online?

I don’t think so. I just post things about my life, like successful things. Sometimes I just like sharing different news that I find interesting, or favorite artists, clothes, music. I like to post photos. Natalia Delgado, Santa Cruz, Server

 

McIntyre Vineyards

I recently met up with three friends for dinner at Sanderlings at Seascape Beach Resort. We chose to eat outside so we could watch the sun set over the ocean, but the Aptos fog rolled in and swallowed it up.

 

Sustainable Supper

The Homeless Garden Project’s Sustain Supper series supports its award-winning programs