There are new challenges that require us to come together as a community to protect our families and keep our streets safe.
There was a time when peace keepers were respected and the badge was viewed as a shield of protection and service. Those were the days when families along the Central Coast and across America didn’t fear allowing their children to play on our city streets. A time when our angst was directed at the criminal, not the crime fighter. It can be that way again.
As we look across the beauty that is our home and we see our neighbors packing up to leave for greener pastures, we wonder why. It breaks our hearts. The Central Coast long has offered opportunity to those who call it home, but lately, our economy has taken hits and local jobs have disappeared. The disparity between the haves and the have-nots has grown at a rapid pace and has obstructed opportunities for so many. Sadly, our beaches are littered with panga boats carrying drugs, and we have seen violent crime and gangs sprouting up like weeds and strangling our future.
Nearly every night, we turn on the news and hear of another citizen falling victim to heinous crimes. We worry about the safety of our schools and pray that our children don’t end up another devastating headline of exploitation, kidnapping or worse.
This is a symptom of the problem that is sending former Californians to other states. We need to work together to address these issues through practical, commonsense solutions that have been proven to work. Here are just a few:
We must make a greater investment to strengthen the relationship between government and law enforcement through local, state and federal partnerships.
We must expand grant programs to help local law enforcement track down violent criminals, improve response times and keep our communities safe.
Human trafficking is estimated to be a $150-billion enterprise with interstate and international implications. We must do more to combat it at the federal level and work to coordinate better with agencies and task forces to prevent it.
We must shed more light on and provide more national funding for law enforcement programs that seek and find child predators. What happens in California can and does find its way across state lines. The exploitation of children must be dealt with in a concerted fashion.
The opioid epidemic is a national and local nightmare, taking the lives of more than 100 Americans every day and it’s trending upward. We must emphasize collaborative solutions that prevent opioids from finding their way to our city streets, and ensure steps are taken to help those in need.
We must do more to ensure those who are here unlawfully and have a history of aggravated criminal conduct are handed over to federal authorities.
Sheriff Parkinson in San Luis Obispo County has instituted an innovative program designed to respond to active-shooter and emergency situations. The program should be a model for how to approach these scenarios holistically. Doing so would provide for safer schools, communities and swifter responses to these tragic occurrences.
Above all else, we must come together as a community to work toward preventing crime and enhancing the public safety of our city streets. Together, we can reclaim our neighborhoods and keep our families safe from violent criminals. Together, we can welcome back local jobs, foster a robust Central Coast economy and a brighter future for our children. By supporting collaborative partnerships with law enforcement and leveraging new technologies, we can clean up our shores and return to our common values.
And we can finally sleep in peace at night, knowing that those protecting and serving our communities have the tools they need to keep us safe and that our leadership has their back.