It was a nice day of may when i awaited Officer K. for a genuine interview in the hope to share some light on the recent issues between the PD and the Mayor Office. Officer K. was off duty and in his own right to express sincerely his own ideas the moment we met.
At first he seemed a common man in his youth, casual clothing and shades. You couldn't have told he was a cop except for the slight composed and disciplined language of his body and the confidence in his words.
We went to the seaside hoping a comfortable place regretting to not have some beach clothes to enjoy the nice day and empty shore looking like normal tourists before to finally sit on a jetty nearby to finally record the interview.
Of course Officer K. is a fictional name, a measure felt right given his line of work and the messy situation in the power places of Santa Ramona. He smiled founding it a reminder of man in black. We were finally ready and in front of that beautiful sea my first question was on the way.
Annie Rose -"How do you felt about the long strike and the situation in Santa Ramona? The citizens are divided between openly supporting you and the fear of not having you on the streets. I'm personally happy you came back to patrol but i feel that your actions were justified by the PCB proposal, that seems to be a clear interference of the Mayor in a business she should not be messing with. As far as i know she has to respond to justice like any other citizen like her City Manager and there's quite the conflict of interest in her take."
Officer K. -"Well.." he started to answer, with his eyes staring to the ocean" I must start by stating that my feelings do not necessarily represent the feelings of all SRPD members even those that went on strike with us. At the end of the day the trigger point for others might have been different. That being said I feel it was necessary. I believe that while there was tension between the PD and areas of the Southside of the City, that the almost constant perpetuating of untruths and hatred from the Mayors office during our negotiation period had risen those levels to not just an intolerable but seriously dangerous level for our officers. Some incidences that happened in the weeks before the strike made that obvious to us and was one of the biggest factors in deciding that it had come to that point. The Police Department has maintained right from the start that we welcome civilian oversight. What we cannot allow is a board that takes all major control from Police Department Command staff, and places it in the hands of biased individuals, when at least one of which has a string of criminal convictions and in recent months has made serious and criminal threats to the department on social media. With only one member of that board being independent of city government and elected, by the other three members. Citizen Oversight as used in other departments in the country is supposed to be an unbiased review board, this is clearly not going to be the case with the proposed PCB. Plus in insisting that SRPD staff have to go before this board to plead for mental health provision if they are traumatized or effected by something witnessed on the job and remember we see some the most atrocious things human beings can ever do to each other, is not only morally wrong it is also illegal. We are officers of the law sworn to upload it, to force us to comply with board that we know to be performing illegal acts is not acceptable on any level. My personal feelings are that it was necessary. That it had come to the point that something had to be done and the Police Department exercised its right to do so."
AR- "In Santa Ramona we have around 20.000 souls and Californian GDP pro capita is around the 50 grand. That gives to our city around 1 billion dollars of taxable incomes which is probably held for the large part by the healthiest. Some of the local taxes should be under City Hall responsibility. Carly Brucato profess herself as a "People Representative" and should be quite prone to tax the rich more to help her voters to be safer and more supported by welfare. To put this into perspective if it's true that the top 10% own the 50% of the cake a 2% tax increase on them could be enough to raise anywhere between 8 to 15 million dollars which is way more than you demand and what she offers to the less lucky of us. Do you think she's showing her true colors? How do you feel about this?"
OK- "I would say I cannot comment on the population numbers or the amount of tax raised from them as I have not seen any of the city budgets.. So like all of us I simply must assume that the amounts given to us are accurate. I would however suggest that a lot of the budget was spent rebuilding other the Earthquake, and I know Storm Rick back last year signed off a big part of the finances too. That being said I would say since the main theme of the Mayors office is transparency and accountability that that should apply to their Office too, I therefore think it would be reasonable for any member of the city to ask to view those accounts and budgets, if that's something they felt the need to do. I can assure you only a small percentage goes to the Police Department though."
Officer K. was right, and the spending to recover from recent accidents was a factor i hadn't considered, and one that was pretty important even if the lack of progressive taxation on the richest felt quite in contradiction with her people campaign.
AR -Thinking about the last question, i found strange that she hired the last mayor that for his position and interests could be considered more inclined to be a right wing figure. On the Newspaper she referred to him as qualified but still there should be something on his record about shooting in public which make me wonder if by 'qualified' she refers to whatever but criminal records. How do you feel about this situation? He was hired as a City Manager and would have control on the police itself by the proposed PCB scheme."
OK-"Well...As I already mentioned Mr Castle has a string of convictions and has served time in jail for a number of offences, mostly Aggravated Assault, Battery and Firearm charges. He is also currently serving time on probation, for attempting to goad an SRPD Officer to shoot and kill him when he turned up intoxicated to open the new Southside Clinic. And as you just said he's the City Manager and would have control on the police itself by the proposed PCB scheme. I don't about you or your readers but that seriously concerns me."
AR- "I have to tell I'm always a bit scared when a politician starts to talk about 'independent' commission to evaluate something, because i like to go further and wonder about from whom they are independent. She even go so far as to make examples of other cities forgetting that Police Commissioners in other cities (usually bigger and with other issues compared to Santa Ramona) are for the most part elected or raised from Police ranks. The PCB would be nominated giving the Mayor the chance to arrange to have 8 out of 9 on her side."
OK-" Citizen oversight, should be unbiased and fair. As far as I am aware the examples given the Citizen oversight board, reviews discipline given to Officers and other matters pertaining to Officers conduct, but the keyword there is reviews, the board is able to make recommendations and work 'with' the Police Department Command and other agencies to ensure improvement is made when discrepancies arise between what Police Department protocol gives as suitable discipline and what the public feels is, which can often be greatly inflated by lack of understanding of the details of the situations, emotions, grief or previous dealings with police, perhaps even in different counties.The proposed PCB proposal given as it is by the Mayor's office and the one she seems to be set on implementing regardless, is not suggesting a board that provides Oversight and review as one that would have more control then even the County Governor. One where the city manager already mentioned Would be able to use whatever methods he choose to investigate disciplinary matters within the PD. Bearing in mind we have records of criminal threats made against the department, by this man."
AR- "The Office has harsh tones and seems to not worry about cleaning the dirt in public places. Do you feel supported by her? What are your thoughts about it when you walk the street?"
OK "Do I feel supported by the Mayors office? No definitely not." He looked at me for a while before to answer. "While I as every other SRPD Officer has taken and oath that we would back up with our own lives if it came to it, while we all know that is real possibility, the dangerous, hateful and distrusting rhetoric that is on the streets has increased since the Mayors office has been stirring people up. Its gone from Graffiti to vague threats to very serious and concerning death threats made not only against us but some of our kids, to sniper shots being fired at SRPD Officers during the recent strike, the self same Officers who by their own will the previous day helped drag civilians from a burning building and detain an arsonist, even though they were on strike. That is not acceptable."
AR- " And leads to the next one...Recently you had an incident involving dead pigs with officers name carved on those, which i have to tell is a real waste of good meet. I felt strange that the Mayor has not publicly condemned the event and tried to use that as a bridge to heal the relationships between the city parts. Has she at least some word in private about the accident?"
OK."So glad you find it humorous" He seemed genuinely upset by my humor and i had to apologize. Humor is my own way to keep pain distant, to overcome it and find a catharsis, but still those names on the bodies weren't mine or of someone dear. "Well I have to say...Actually the Mayors office did send out a statement the following day condemning the incident. Although it seems to of done little to garner a greater understanding of the atrocities we have work with on a weekly basis. And our continued need for suitable and prompt mental health professionals to wo