My latest story explains why the San Diego Police Department is spending less time alongside residents to address chronic issues in their neighborhoods. Budget cuts have eliminated proactive resources in recent years and the department’s guiding strategy relies more heavily on crime data than residents.
But after two weeks of interviews with residents, researchers, city officials and police officers, I still haven’t figured out the answer to this question: Do police officers attend as many community meetings as they used to?
Because police have cut back on community storefronts, front desk hours and employees specifically designated toward outreach, meetings have become one of the most accessible ways to still talk with police besides flagging down a squad car or calling 911.
The police chief and other command staff told me they’re personally attending as many community meetings as they used to, but said they didn’t know about all police officers in the department.
“I know the officers go to as many as they can,” said Shelley Zimmerman, the assistant police chief who oversees neighborhood outreach and other functions.
In general, residents told me police have been attending their meetings less often and city officials told me police have been attending meetings just as often. Considering the decline described by some residents, Mayor Jerry Sanders made the boldest claim.
“You’ll see our police officers at every community meeting,” he said.
Is that true in your neighborhood?
If you’re a resident, city official or police officer, please send me an email and let me know how often police officers attend the community meetings you go to. I’m especially interested in figuring out whether police officers show up to some neighborhoods more often than others.
Please contact Keegan Kyle directly at email@example.com or 619.550.5668 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/keegankyle.