By Barbara Bry
As a City Councilmember, I will fight for District 1 to get its fair share of public safety resources to guarantee fast emergency response times for all residents and the protection of our communities.
Our crime rate is increasing and some neighborhoods lack adequate fire protection. I will address the recruitment and retention problems in our police, fire and lifeguard departments, work to build needed fire stations in University City and upgrade equipment so the City can deliver on its most basic responsibility-- protecting the safety of you and your family.
Reducing Emergency Response Times and Fire Protection:
I pledge to carefully monitor the progress of the two new UC fire stations that are on the drawing boards and ensure all stations are fully staffed and have the proper equipment to provide fast emergency response times and care for all of our residents.
In Carmel Valley and Del Mar Heights, I am concerned that the latest proposal for the One Paseo project would increase traffic and emergency response times. Before allowing any plan to advance, I urge the City to establish an emergency response team on the west side of the freeway and to develop a permanent public safety solution.
In La Jolla, gridlock traffic along Torrey Pines Road and other main thoroughfares can hinder our emergency response times. We need to move forward quickly with traffic light synchronization to improve access for emergency vehicles.
Protecting our Communities:
Compared to other cities, San Diego has a relatively low crime rate, and our hardworking SDPD officers deserve much of the credit for that. If we want to keep crime low in San Diego, we’ll need to continue to recruit and retain the best officers. Currently, we have about 165 budgeted jobs for police officers that are unfilled. It would be my priority as a councilmember to work toward filling those positions as soon as possible.
- To recruit and retain the best officers, our police officers’ total compensation needs to be on par with their colleagues in other comparable cities.
- Too many of our police officers live outside the city limits because of affordability issues. I propose we create incentives such as housing vouchers and low-cost housing loans for officers who live in the city.
- We need to commission a survey of both current and former police officers to learn more about their overall satisfaction with the SDPD. Are we providing opportunities for advancement and for professional development? Do officers feel like management hears their voices? This survey is only valuable if we commit to analyze data carefully, implement a plan to address core issues, and follow up with survey respondents on internal changes. I will bring my management skills to assist with this process.
- This same holistic fact-finding and pro-active approach needs to be implemented when filling the dozens of vacancies within the 135 budgeted positions at PD Communications, which includes 911-call takers and police radio dispatchers. This vacancy rate of 20 to 25 percent over the past three years severely impacts how police officers can do their jobs. Dispatchers have been subject to mandatory overtime callbacks because the Department cannot hire and retain enough people to do the job. Many of these operators and dispatchers are leaving for nearby cities that offer higher salaries and better benefits. I believe we need to offer more competitive salaries, so that our residents are immediately connected with an operator in case of an emergency.
- I support community policing in my district and across the City. Police officers are pillars of our community and need to have direct relationships with the people they serve to be effective at their jobs. I support programs that would provide police officers with the resources they need to build relationships with the community.
- Recent tragic events have put a spotlight on charges of police abuse of force. I do support body cameras as a way to protect both citizens and police officers. As stated above, I am also a huge proponent of community policing. We need to provide our officers with the support, resources and training to be successful at their jobs.
- I would like to expand the Police Officer Explorer program by expanding partnerships between local schools and the SDPD. By providing fun learning experiences in law enforcement, we can build the pipeline of the future and strengthen relationships with the community.
- To support our Neighborhood Watch groups, I would work to ensure every group is assigned a Community Relations Officer. We also could create a civilian volunteer position of a “Neighborhood Watch Coordinator” who would help train and assist Neighborhood Watch groups. Neighborhood Watch groups should also be informed and be able to attend Captain Advisory Board meetings to know how police officers are helping their communities.
We also need to ensure we are investing in police infrastructure. As a high tech entrepreneur, I would leverage my experience to ensure officers have the technology and information to be effective at their jobs.
As a City Councilmember, I would see participating in ride-alongs and maintaining an open line of communication with the SDPOA as part of my responsibilities in serving the public and advocating for public safety.
I’m running for City Council because I want to keep San Diego safe, clean and prosperous. Public safety is the number one responsibility of local government, and when I am elected it will be my first priority on the City Council. I will relentlessly advocate for the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day to have the resources and support to be effective at their high stakes jobs and for the residents to feel safe and protected in their communities.