This is a press release from the Santa Ramona General Hospital and the Southside Clinic, overseen by Chief of Staff, Dr. Evelyna Stone.
We are all part of 'The City'. The police department, hospital, fire department/EMS, the business owners, the political leaders and the citizens that have found a place to call home. We are The City.
It is upsetting to hear that term thrown around as a group that does not support our fantastic SRPD. I know many of our citizens, business owners, political leaders and emergency services support the police department and all the members of the SRPD. I know the hospital and Southside Clinic has on many occasions seen to the needs of our brave men and women in blue. I personally have seen to the mental health needs of our officers. I have also personally extended any help that the SRGH could provide to the SRPD and was regretfully turned down for such an offer. It's upsetting to hear that 'The City' has let the SRPD down, when there have been parts of 'The City' trying to support them at all costs.
So, now what?
I implore Chief Sarina Jade to hear out the offer of help from 'The City'. I will make it again, I will devote our time and effort to supporting the officers in our city. I do hope Chief Jade does not refuse our offer to help again. And while this does not offer any help to their training budget needs, it does address one half of their issues.
As part of The CIty, I am pledging a training program specifically to the mental health staff at the SRGH and Southside Clinic. I am urging mental health professionals to apply at the SRGH to have a steady supply of counselors on hand to see to the needs of the SRPD. It is already a policy that all staff dedicate their time at the Southside Clinic, so we have personnel covered at both locations. The Southside Clinic has a very focused approached to mental health and will be creating a 'Blue Safe Space' in the building just outside of Southside Santa Ramona Valley. This room will cater to the needs of any officer that feels the pressure from acts they've been exposed to or the need to seek out an 'all clear' before heading back to duty after the difficult decision is made to use their service weapon.
Keeping mental health professionals in a clinic and hospital setting is preferable over having those counselors insulated in a police/city hall office. This allows the mental health team to grow together and be on the cutting edge of giving the best care possible. Taking a police officer out of their peer group and where they can continue to receive their training, would be detrimental to the services they could offer, it is no different than a doctor taken out of a clinical setting. We grow together, we improve each other, we can offer services tailored to all walks of life and still specialize in the cases with police officers.
We will be dedicating a space in the Southside Clinic, where most of our mental health needs are offered, for police officers only. The staff at SRGH will see our mental health professionals take extra training in helping officers with their mental health needs. We are also actively recruiting more mental health professionals and extend that offer of training to anyone interested in a medical career in mental health, including officers. As always, the counseling services are FREE to police officers (and many others that have financial need). We can also take part in any training the SRPD sees fit for us to better serve them, including the psychological entrance exams officers must go through.
I urge the SRPD to see this as a viable, thought out and very healthy way to manage the mental health of our brave people in Blue.
Secondly, I would like to touch upon the residency requirement put forth by the Mayor. The fact is, it is discriminatory to push forth a statute that states a person must live in a specific part of town. However, in California, it can be said that an officer must live within a certain distance of their job, which would encompass all of Santa Ramona Valley, which all of our current officers seem to do. Also, you cannot, by law, impose a residency requirement for 'some' officers and there could be serious consequences for discrimination to do so, or to single out the Police Department and not the other emergency services controlled by the city. All in all, the residence requirement attempted by the Mayor would not hold up in court as it stands. And the fact that all our officers live within the city limits puts Santa Ramona Valley leaps and bounds in front of all other California localities. Look at Los Angeles... 80% of the officers tend to live outside of the city limits.
Though, I would point out most cities that would like to see officers living in a certain area, work out with local business and financial institutions for lower interest loans and incentives be offered to the officers that choose to live in certain high crime areas. Perhaps that would be a way to lure some officers into new spaces in our more crime ridden areas.
Lastly, as a professional that worked in technology law enforcement, I'd like to point out the dire need for training. No profession can improve and operate without training. Bigger guns, faster cars and more bulletproof vests don't mean anything to an officer that is not adequately trained to handle a simple argument or misunderstanding in a part of town that doesn't trust them. Proper training will lead to an officer not needing to rely on those bigger guns, faster cars or better protection in most cases.
The City does seek to support you SRPD, I urge you to accept that support. I also urge each citizen, business owner, political leader and city service employee to look for ways to continue to support our City, we are all in this together. We Are The City!