Letters to the Editor
... input from forum participants


Stolen cars and other issues - it's important to contact the police

April 29th

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following letter was written after a car that was thought to be stolen and abandoned in Montecito Heights turned out not to be:


I'll let the 1-800-ABANDON call go (the number for reporting such vehicles).

But it's important to be vigilant about calling the police when something looks suspicious even if the situation turns out to not be what we thought, as in this case. Whoever does the budget bases the number of police they let us have on how many calls go out for our area. So if nothing else we're building up a bank of calls that will be evaluated when they next budget where police and basic cars will go. I feel like a nuisance when I call the police over every little thing, and sometimes those dispatchers can make you feel like you're annoying them with your calls about loud parties or vagrants or whatever, but the actual officers like it when we call because it means their positions are justified.

I talked to the Front Desk Officer when I was calling about this and he said that the most money goes to the communities that call the most, because police administrators can justify expenditure for police staffing by the number of calls received. He went on to say that this is one of the primary reasons the Valley Secession movement started: they pay substantial taxes, but since their need for police is relatively limited, they don't have the police presence to show up immediately (read they lack money and staffing in the valley). That's when people get ticked off. Police presence is highest in South and Southeast Los Angeles, he said, because there is way more crime there, as illustrated by the number of police calls received. So our calls to the police are not completely in vain, even if it seems that way while you sit and wait for them to show up for hours (I've done it and it's terrible).

Last night there were some people drinking and partying up by the radio tower wall on Montecito Drive and I called it in. I also alerted a few others on the phone tree and I don't know if they called, but the police rousted them about 20 minutes later, a pretty quick response for a call like that.

It's all about budgets. The police are feeling the impact of the budget cuts - apparently there will be only two more classes of new police recruits to graduate and then no more new cops after that; this compounded by the fact that management has restricted officers from working any overtime. It used to be that they would work the overtime anyway and get paid later when the budget was reconciled or something like that. That's no longer an option. The police love Chief Bratton, but they also can't make ends meet on the salary, and other Departments have better pensions and benefits. He said they lose about one officer a day to other departments.

Just a little inside information for you. : )

Donnette Thayer
Montecito Heights