CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES ANSWER QUESTIONS ON PUBLIC SAFETY:
Q: If A Criminal Loots A Store, Should They Be Arrested And Prosecuted?
Mark Burton: Yes, absolutely! Our MB merchants need to know that stealing their MB merchandise will have consequences. Being arrested has consequences for those who commit crimes. Arrests become a criminal’s “rap sheet,” used by Judges for bail and sentencing decisions when they, almost inevitably, commit felonies in the future. However, the real solution is hire our own City Prosecutor. We can do that NOW! With our own City Prosecutor, we can file and prosecute important quality of life crimes like burglary, resisting arrest, shoplifting, trespass, defecating in public and many more. Failing to prosecute these qualities of life crimes erodes law and order in our MB community.
Frank Chiella: Absolutely, the arrest may be easier than the prosecution since we still have George Gascon in office as our district attorney who continues his policy of not prosecuting criminals.
Rita Crabtree-Kampe: Crime is on the rise. We need to send a clear message that we will not tolerate criminal acts in our community. We can deter crime by increasing presence of MBPD in business and residential areas on bikes, ebikes, patrol cars. Anyone who loots or otherwise breaks a law needs to be arrested and prosecuted.
Suzanne Hadley: Absolutely! Looting is a serious crime that should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. No crime is “small” if it happens to you, your family, or your business.
Amy Howorth: Yes. Of course.
David Lesser: Yes.
Q: Do You Support The De Facto Decriminalization Of Shoplifting, Resisting Arrest, Trespass, Burglary, And Illegal Gun Possession – Just Some Of The Crimes That Certain Radical District Attorneys Are Declining To Prosecute?
Mark Burton: Absolutely not! Failing to file and prosecute misdemeanors, the quality of life crimes, should be a crime! The DA’s policy of not filing or prosecuting misdemeanors, the quality of life crimes that impact law and order in our community, is plain wrong and every level, and may be punitive and discriminatory to Manhattan Beach.
Frank Chiella: I do not. Why would any person with a little common sense support a policy that emboldens criminals, has our residents feeling unsafe, and crime victims left abandoned.
Rita Crabtree-Kampe: I am a strong no on decriminalizing all of the offenses listed. I did not vote for Gascon and advocated for his recall in order to maintain civility in society. Prosecution is the tool that supports the efforts of our PD in maintaining civility and safety in our society.
Suzanne Hadley: Definitely not! The state legislature is the elected body that controls all the crimes contained in the California penal code. George Gascon is choosing NOT to prosecute crimes that our legislators wrote into our code. Want to eliminate crimes from the code? There’s a process for that. Self-selecting crimes not to prosecute? That’s not his job. Gascon’s self-initiated “crime directives” make MB less safe. Until Gascon is defeated or recalled, our MBPD will continue to arrest and prosecute ALL crimes in the penal code.
Amy Howorth: Nope.
David Lesser: No, I do not support the reduction in misdemeanor prosecutions. The decline is not just due to Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon, however. Misdemeanor prosecutions have declined statewide since 1990 due to state ballot propositions and changing prosecutorial priorities. We need a broader conversation about how reduced prosecutions are impacting crime – but that will exceed your space limitations.
Q: To Respond To The Significant Increase In Crime In Manhattan Beach, How Many Additional Officers Do You Feel We Need To Add To The Current Police Force?
Mark Burton: In the next three to five years, we need to grow our police force to 80, from the force of 65 that we have had for the last 20 years. 10 additional police officer positions would be permanent and 5 would be over-hires for deployment flexibility. Did you know that our total full time employees was 168 ten years ago, and it has now ballooned to over 210. Yet, our total full time sworn MBPD positions has remained at 65! Outrageous! Worse yet, our total full time sworn MBFD employee positions has been at 26, yet City Council just cut two positions? Yes, that is two less paramedics to save lives! Incredible! The City Council or candidate mantra of “we support public safety” appears to be nothing more that “lip service.” We need to deter and prevent crime by having more police officers. More police equals less crime. That’s police science 101. That’s because the presence of police officer is the best deterrent to a person committing a crime. The perpetrators of the heinous armed robbery at our Downtown’s Pasha Jewelry knew that no police officers would be Downtown MB on an early Friday evening. Let’s keep Manhattan Beach, Manhattan Beach! The best way to do so is to hire more police offices so we can have regular foot beat patrol officers in Downtown MB, North MB/El Porto and in our MB Mall. And, with more police officers we can increase neighborhood patrols. Isn’t that what our residents want? It sure is!
Frank Chiella: I believe that we immediately need to add 7 additional positions to our police force. 6 additional positions in the patrol division and 1 additional position in the traffic division. More boots on the street now and look at even more additional positions in next year’s city budget.
Rita Crabtree-Kampe: I rely on the MBPD and the Chief to determine how many officers we need to ultimately support our community. Communication shared among residents, City Council and MBPD will assist identifying staffing needs. We currently need to discuss padding our PD with traffic, detective and beat officers to address an uptick in crime and traffic violations. We must ensure the safety of our community including businesses, residents and visitors.
Suzanne Hadley: Our new MB police Chief Rachel Johnson has indicated she is comfortable (for now) with a force of 65 sworn officers plus 1-2 over hires in anticipation of retirements. I trust her input. If Chief Johnson comes to council requesting more officers, I will likely support her. In the meantime, MBPD continues to use “force multipliers” at a much cheaper cost. This includes unarmed CSC contract workers. These extra eyes and ears assist PD during large events and busy times downtown. CSC also patrols our city and state parking lots in the dead of night, discouraging loiterers and preventing crime. I brought to council for future discussion the armed security guards hired by Beverly Hills. These contract security forces may add be a way to add more armed protection at a lower cost than adding well-paid (and well-pensioned) PD.
Amy Howorth: We are all on edge. Since the pandemic, crime is up nationally. And the Pasha armed robbery was really terrible and makes us all feel unsafe. But, I defer to the Police Chief to determine what will make us safer. If she said we needed two more police officers, I would fund those positions. If she said that we needed ten, I’d consider. When I was on Council before, I asked then Chief Abell if he thought foot patrols downtown were an effective deterrent. He said he prefers bike patrols so that if something happens, the officer can get there quickly.
David Lesser: It is an empty promise to identify a specific number of additional police officers the City of Manhattan Beach needs to hire. We need data, crime statistics, coverage information, and costs to confirm how many additional officers are warranted. Our Police Department believes it has enough officers. But with crime on the rise and many feeling unsafe, the City Council needs to undertake a review of police staffing as soon as possible. A good opportunity would be during the City’s upcoming mid-year budget process. I am committed to move quickly to hire more officers if more are needed.
Q: Who Do You Hold Responsible For The Manhattan Beach Police Department Being Under-Staffed For The Last Three (3) Years?
Mark Burton: The City Council of course! No excuses! Council should always be proactive, not reactive. Yet, we keep recycling old school candidates, candidates that support the “status quo.” Well, that’s not working out too good for the residents of Manhattan Beach. That’s why I am running for Council. Quite simply, I am the Public Safety Candidate We Need On Council. Here’s why. I served as a misdemeanor Prosecutor, prosecuting thousands of quality of life crimes. I was a trial attorney representing police officers in federal and state court, learning policing for experts. During Rick Caruso’s term as President of the LAPD Police, I served as his attorney when LAPD drove down crime to historic lows while successfully implementing the Consent Decree’s constitutional police reforms. By the way, I was the City’s lead negotiator for the Consent Decree. During Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts term as the LAX Director of Safety and Security, I served as his attorney when the Airport Police rose to be recognized at the #1 Airport Police Department in the United States, and driving down crime at LAX to historic lows. Finally, while serving as your Mayor, I sponsored the very successful License Plate Reader Security Camera Program that has resulted in more than a hundred known felons taken off our streets. Our MBPD Officers know that is the best crime fighting tool in decades. The fact of the matter is I know policing far better than any of my fellow candidates. And, I have the strong leadership skills to keep our community safe.
Frank Chiella: I hold the Police Chief, City Manager, and City Council responsible for not being proactive instead of reactive, and not recognizing that our police department is and has been understaffed for the last three years.
Rita Crabtree-Kampe: In the last 3 years our City Council has inquired about the need for more officers. Chief Abell had responded that staffing was sufficient. It would be imperative that a combination of input be considered: MBPD, City Council and resident feedback regarding perceived and real safety issues in the community. If we have 2-4 more officers we can roll back on overtime to maintain the mental well being of our department and ensure best response time. Ongoing evaluation to address hiring needs would be important. Our MBPD has been doing a wonderful job and needs the support of resources to best be able to fulfill the duty of keeping our community safe. Finally, our MBPD needs help from the community to deter crime and prosecute: if you see something, do/say something!
Suzanne Hadley: I mainly blame our shortfall on the demonization of local police departments by anti-police voices. This ramped up in earnest in spring 2020 and continued through the summer of civil unrest. The negativity toward law enforcement led to a nationwide wave of officer retirements, including California. Literally every local force is looking to replenish their ranks and hire additional officers: El Segundo, Hermosa, Redondo, Torrance, the LAPD and the LA Sheriff’s Department. But more officers have retired than are signing up. Why is that? It’s never been tougher to wear the badge. They are at a near-daily risk of getting called out on social media, on the front page of a national newspaper, or sued by the ACLU. That’s on top of being shot at! Our MBPD openings in the last 2.5 years were in large part due to Covid burnout, a vaccination mandate, and anti-police rhetoric. But we are nearly fully staffed now in MBPD. We’ll add some over hires in anticipation of future retirements. We hire only the best of the best; that can take some time. I’ll always stand with our men and women in blue. They run toward danger while I am safe at home.
Amy Howorth: MBPD Chiefs have always taken great pride and care in the women and men they hire for MBPD. It’s one of the reasons we have such a stellar force. Across the nation, police departments are having a difficult time filling positions. I don’t want our Chief to rush hires. We also put our recruits through an academy so even when they are hired, there is a lag between when they are hired and when they become sworn officers. I know that the Chief says she is now nearly fully staffed with the new hires coming through the academy. And fully staffed in MB means two over staff. So we haven’t been down three officers, we have been down one. Still not ok.
David Lesser: The Manhattan Beach Police Department believes it has enough officers. Over the past two years, however, the department has experienced retirements and hiring challenges in an extremely competitive labor market. The City Council is ultimately responsible for ensuring there are enough police officers through recommendations by the City Manager and Police Chief. I share the frustration about rising crime and am committed to move quickly to hire more officers if more are needed.
Stewart Fournier Comment On Public Safety In Manhattan Beach:
(City Council Candidate Stewart Fournier chose not to respond to the questions and preferred to issue this statement.)
As a former volunteer for 13 years, I worked at the Police Department assisting victims of burglary, robbery, DUI, assault, rape, domestic violence, suicide, elder abuse, death notifications, and homicide. For ten years, I hosted approximately 100 crime prevention Cable TV shows produced by all three beach city Police Departments. I rode with officers side by side and responded to the station when called out for thousands of hours of the night and day. As an award-winning member of the Police Department, no candidate is more qualified to speak to the crime issues in our city. The only comment that I will make is that all of your questions frame a minimal understanding of crime and Police policy in Manhattan Beach.
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What Advice Do You Have For The City Council, City Manager, And Police Chief On Public Safety In Manhattan Beach?
(Citizens Speak Up On Public Safety)
Manhattan Beach is a very safe city. We have an excellent police department. We also have a nationally recognized Neighborhood Watch program that was founded by my wife Charlotte in 1980. Unfortunately due to our district attorney’s refusal to prosecute many crimes it is probably necessary to have a larger police presence in the community. —- Russ Lesser, former Mayor of Manhattan Beach
MB WEEKLY – CARTOON:
“Manhattan Beach is so quiet in the two weeks between people complaining about it being too hot and being too cold.”
MB – BULLETIN BOARD:
1. ** For beleaguered White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, things are going sideways in a manner that’s reached comic proportions. While her boss President Biden runs around giving operatic and menacing speeches in front of blood-red backdrops, Jean-Pierre is left at the White House podium. Holding the bag. And so far, it isn’t going well. —- Spencer R., Manhattan Beach
2. ** If you have obnoxious neighbors, then just know that any city parking enforcement can be called out (supposed to be 48 hours) after a car is parked in a residential area. They will come and mark the tires, and after 72 hours of marking the vehicle, they will tow it. No questions asked. Anyone can call about a car parked residentially and have it towed if not moved in 72 hours. —- Heather Devereux, Manhattan Beach
3. ** Hipster coffee shops actually sell sofa space [that] you rent by buying coffee. —- Candy R., Manhattan Beach
4. ** You are probably a bystander in someone’s most precious and most memorable photo. —- Stewart F., Manhattan Beach —- Heather Z., Manhattan Beach
5. ** A simple and direct question. How could the Manhattan Beach city council and city manager allow the Manhattan Beach Police Department to be understaffed for years? Shouldn’t that be their top priority? In the private sector someone in charge would have been fired in the private sector, plain and simple! —- Amanda S., Manhattan Beach
6. ** Yes trap the coyotes —- Lynne Adelman, Manhattan Beach
7. ** I had some lousy restaurant service in my life, but nothing compares to the truly awfulness of service at the Silverlake Ramen in Manhattan Village service. Horrid! —- Ashley T., Manhattan Beach
8. ** My husband and I drove toward a favorite spot for lunch last week when we passed an older man walking on the sidewalk in front of a hospital. He was missing one leg and struggled with crutches going uphill in the pouring rain. Jack and I looked at each other and knew we had to go back for him and give him a ride … The man was grateful for the ride to his pharmacy several miles away. —- Donna P., Manhattan Beach
9. ** Tinder promised it would revolutionize romance. So why are my peers lonelier and more sex-deprived than ever? —- Liza B., Manhattan Beach
10. ** Twenty-one years ago today, a horrific attack took place on our country, costing the lives of nearly 3000 innocent people. Let us honor the victims, survivors, and the bravery of first responders who came together to help in a time of need. —- M.B. Police Dept
11. ** Starbucks is a once great company. Today it feels like a tired losing sports team. —- Gail T., Manhattan Beach
12. ** Just before she died last month, my Mom’s face was wrinkled and old like the pages of a well-loved book. —- Damon K., Manhattan Beach
13. ** To clear up any misunderstandings, Rita Crabtree is running for city council because she has spent the last 25+ years of her life loving this city and wants to help it grow, the support thrown behind her is neither her prerogative nor reason. —- Janett Ocamp, Manhattan Beach
14. ** Religion tells children they are imperfect and must work on themselves. Secularism tells children tells them they are perfect and should work on everyone else. —- Howell R., Manhattan Beach
15. ** Hey – I’ve got a great investment idea for you: You give me $100,000 and four years of your life, and I give you … hmm … pretty much … nothing, except an intense hatred of your country. No, I’m not the devil. I’m Mr. College. —- Nadine K., Manhattan Beach
16. ** Are we so vain in Manhattan Beach that we even care for the opinion of those we don’t care for? —- Spencer R., Manhattan Beach
17. ** My husband just returned from a walk with our dog on Ocean and was hit by a kid on an E-bike. My husband has a scrape on his arm from the handlebars. The boy was going much too fast that he couldn’t stop in time to avoid hitting my husband, who was walking our small dog. He did apologize and went on his way. Please talk with your children about their “driving.” He could have truly injured my husband or dog. I hope the experience will teach him to slow down and be more careful. —- Elizabeth Feria, Manhattan Beach
18. ** I was having dinner last night at Mangiamos on MBB and heard screeching tires, screams, and a bunch of sirens, and emergency personnel were there within minutes. People said a woman had been run over in the parking space across the street, and the driver fled. I hope she is ok. —- Emily Resnick, Manhattan Beach
19. ** I am sick of hearing the radical crap about not trapping coyotes if they pose a danger to Manhattan Beach. —- Dr. Neil G., Manhattan Beach
20. ** Why social media is making bathrooms cleaner —- www.BrokenWindowsBook.com
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