Four days before an election that could keep Tony Young on the City Council for the next four years, San Diego police touted his support in reducing crimes in the southeastern neighborhoods he represents.

At a press conference, police Chief Bill Lansdowne and other high ranking officers stood alongside Young to repeat crime trends they announced at the beginning of the year. It’s the same set of data, but this time around, police focused specifically on trends in District 4 rather than the entire city.

“I don’t think enough has been said about the reduction in crime rates throughout my district, and the outstanding efforts to make sure this happened,” Young said to start the press conference.

Falling crime trends have been a major point for Young in his re-election campaign, citing them at debates with his challenger, Barry Pollard. As the incumbent, it’s in Young’s interest to show that conditions in his district have improved since he took office.

Young thanked the police officers for reducing crime and they thanked him back.

“First, let me thank Councilman Tony Young for all the assistance and help. We sat down together when his term started here in District 4 and said, ‘What can we do to reduce crime and violence?’” Lansdowne said. “And we’ve seen some remarkable reductions overall for the city and certainly for this district.”

Young denied the press conference was part of his campaign. City Council candidates are prohibited by election laws from using city resources for campaign activities.

The press conference also highlighted a program that gives teenagers a job in an effort to deter gang activity during the summer months. Last year, the program employed 3,200 teens with federal funds, but this year, without that money, the program can only employ between 1,500 and 1,600 teens.

“That’s only half of what we did last summer, and that’s a huge problem, but it’s better than nothing,” said Mark Cafferty, who oversees the program, which is run by San Diego Workforce Partnership.

Young said the press conference was held today because the school year is coming to an end and he wanted youth to be aware of the summer program. “We usually do it around this time,” he said about the publicity.

I asked Young why he didn’t schedule the press conference to be held after the election. “I’ll be out of town,” he said. He’ll be going on vacation with his family.

Young’s challenger, Pollard, called the press conference a last-minute effort to rally supporters before the election. He expressed concern that it was “mixing the politics with the business.”

“I think he feels the pressure,” Pollard said. “There’s no hard, hard data, but there’s a growing sense that this is going to be a very, very close race. And everybody’s gone to sleep on it, but I love it. I want this district to be a wake-up call.”

I also asked Lansdowne about the timing of the event. He said police wanted to address suspicions in the community that gang tensions have risen since the History Channel recently profiled a southeastern San Diego gang on the reality show Gangland.

“And that’s just not true,” Lansdowne said.

The District 4 crime statistics announced by police followed citywide trends last year, although slightly different. Violent crime dropped by greater margins in southeastern San Diego than the entire city, but property crime dropped by greater margins in the entire city than southeastern San Diego.

— KEEGAN KYLE

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