What’s up with the SCPD?


What’s up with the SCPD?

by Becky Johnson

May 16, 2015

Santa Cruz, CA.  — As communities across the country fight against
police oppression
and brutality, we galvanize in our resolve to reform police departments
so that they
are the servants of the people, protecting us from harm, and under the
control of
the City Manager and the City Council.

Why is this necessary?

Because when we entrust certain individuals to carry lethal force, with
the power
to detain, cite, arrest, and later testify in court against us, we must be
sure they are
following a code of conduct that is consistent with fair and ethical

Different police departments go astray in different ways. In Ferguson, the
Black majority
of the population were singled out for massive ticketing to fill the
City’s coffers.

In Oakland, a thuggish mentality won out that was so corrupt
financially, a State
Auditor had to take over control of the administration.

In San Jose, Ca., police have an inordinately high rate of shooting
mental ill people.
Call a cop. Execute your family member.

But what’s up with the SCPD?

First, we have an unusually high rate of arrests per officer. It’s 11.1
arrests per officer
per year. By comparison, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco, with,
larger criminal populations, the average is 4 arrests per officer per year.

We have 99 sworn police officers and a total of 135 paid employees.
This in a City with a population of 62,000 with a ratio of one officer
per 697 residents.

But wait! That population figure includes UCSC which also has its own
police department.

While crime rates are dropping, in some cases precipitously, our jails
are still
overflowing and our courts are jammed.  In fact, the Board of
Supervisors recently
approved a $25 million jail EXPANSION in already, the most incarcerated
state in the union.

So who is getting detained, cited, arrested, convicted, and jailed?

According to Vice-Chief Steve Clark, 42% of arrests are of homeless people.
32% of the citations written are to homeless people, virtually none for violent crimes.
In fact, the three most-cited crimes in Santa Cruz do not have an
actual victim complaining.

The crime wave in Santa Cruz requiring such a large police force is mostly for BEING in a park after hours, camping, or for smoking.

This means either sleeping at night, using a blanket, or for setting up a campsite.

A “campsite” can be a car. It can be a piece of cardboard set down on wet grass in a park.

Lay a blanket on the ground & have a picnic? Not in Santa Cruz!  That’s a crime!
72% of adult homeless people smoke.
(Most soldiers in foxholes smoked too). The City has made it illegal to smoke or vape in over 2000 acres of public land composed of parks, green belts & recreational trails.
There are people sitting in Santa Cruz County Jail today for smoking a cigarette about which no individual complained.
The budget for the police department is $24,663,471, or 32% of the
general fund, and is by far the biggest
budget item.
We have more paid officers than any other City in the Bay Area. The next closest City is Palo Alto, with 85 sworn officers, but double the population of Santa Cruz.

The safest way to curb police power is to reign in their budgets.

–Becky Johnson