|Home||Special Reports||Archive||Links||The City||Commerce||About||Contacts||Editor||Send PR|
Stabbing, Shooting Incidents in Santa Monica Heighten Concern Over Crime
By Niki Cervantes
November 6, 2017 -- A stabbing downtown on Friday and gunfire between two party buses near the Pier 23 hours later that left a young mother dead are stoking fear about rising crime in Santa Monica, and increasing calls for significant action to stop more violence from occurring.
“Our residents are justifiably concerned about the spike in crime in Santa Monica in 2017,” said Phil Brock, a longtime community volunteer who is on the City’s Recreation and Parks Commission and ran for City Council last year as a write-in candidate.
Posting at residocracy.org -- an online-based residents group that has been critical of City Hall -- Brock also wrote the “lack of patrol units in our neighborhoods is appalling.
“Our parks, alleys, streets, and supermarkets have become magnets for crime,” he said.
The City is looking for a new police chief to replace Jacqueline Seabrooks, who retired September 30.
As the decision is being made, City officials are also scheduled to hold a series of “community conversations” citywide to discuss, among other topics, policing and a new chief.
One is scheduled for November 9 at a home on Pearl Street from 7:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. Details are available by calling Allison Feenberg at 310-579-7698.
Suggestions on how to handle rising crime range from looking at the creation of a Police Commission to provide oversight to making crime the City’s top priority.
“I don’t want to see you having more meetings with the community. I don’t want to see any more push polls,” said Armen Melkonians, who founded Residocracy.
“I don’t want to see your Press Releases about how wonderful Santa Monica is. I want to feel safe where I live. And I will only feel safe when the crime rates go drastically down, when there are no more shootings and stabbings.
Council Member Kevin McKeown said with police investigations of the two incidents still ongoing, it’s too soon to draw preventive conclusions.
“Increases in crime demand thoughtful response not fear-based reaction, as under-informed would-be pundits are peddling on social media," McKeown said.
"Our City Manager will be hiring a new Chief of Police soon, and Councilmembers are going directly to residents for input."
McKeown said he would attend Thursday's community conversation in Sunset Park.
Mayor Ted Winterer did not address new criticism of the City following the violence, but in a statement issued through the City’s Communication’s Office, said, “We are deeply saddened by the senseless loss of life.
“Our community safety is of utmost importance and we urge anyone who has information about the incidents to contact the Santa Monica Police Department at (310) 458-8495."
As of now, no arrests have been made in either of the two incidents.
The first occurred Friday slightly before noon in front of REI at Fourth Street and Santa Monica Boulevard.
The suspect fled before police arrived. Police released a photograph of the suspect, a tall and thin man in his 20s or 30s who wore his hair in a ponytail/bun.
He was wearing all black and carried a backpack. He is also considered “armed and dangerous” because the weapon in question has not been found, police said ("Santa Monica Police Seek Suspect in Stabbing Downtown," November 3, 2017).
Police asked for the public’s assistance.
Then, shortly before 1 a.m. on Saturday, officers were seeking the public’s help again.
This time, the violence took the life of a 28-year old mother after multiple gun shots involving two party buses near the Pier.
The woman was identified as De’Ommie De La Cruz of Compton by her mother in a gofundme page.
“DeOmmie was tragically taken from us, leaving behind her precious 2 year old daughter,” the mother, Tomiekia Falconer-De La Cruz, wrote.
According to police, two or three men fled after firing shots into De La Cruz’s bus.
The suspects fled westbound in Palisades Park and jumped over a railing towards Pacific Coast Highway, police said.
“An involved bus drove to the Santa Monica Public Safety Facility (PSF) with additional gunshot victims on board,” police said. “Santa Monica Fire Department Paramedics responded and treated the victims.
"Three victims were treated and transported to a local hospital for treatment. A fourth victim suffered minor injuries; but was not transported to the hospital.”
The two violent episodes come at a time of heightened concern about major crime in Santa Monica.
Santa Monica experienced 4,039 reported incidents of property crime in 2016 or 43 property crimes per 1,000 residents, a 5.35 percent increase over tthe previous year, according to FBI data.. The increase was driven mostly by reports of larceny/theft.
Santa Monica saw violent crimes rise higher than the national rate with 475 violent crimes reported, up from 445 in 2015, or 6.74 percent increase ("Santa Monica Number One in Property Crime Among California Cities of Similar Size," October 30, 2017).
Some critics link the rise in crime to the large crowds arriving in the beach city daily on the Expo Light Rail line, which opened in May of 2016 and ends in downtown ("Theft and Similar Crimes Jump More Than 50 Percent Near Santa Monica Expo Line," December 6, 2016).
Others have voiced concerns about the city’s homeless population, which spiked by 26 percent in the 2017 count compared to 2016, similar to the 24 percent jump in Los Angeles County overall ("Santa Monica's Homeless Population Highest in a Decade," May 10, 2017).
Like much of California’s law enforcement community, Santa Monica police mostly blame increased crime on factors out of its control.
These include a 2011 law that shifted nonviolent offenders from the state’s then-jammed prisons to county jails and a 2014 proposition that turned drug possession and some thefts into misdemeanors, instead of felonies.
|copyrightCopyright 1999-2017 surfsantamonica.com. All Rights Reserved.||Disclosures|