Monday, October 01, 2007
Take back the park Thursday
This photo shows Lincoln Park at it's finest: as host to tree-climing boys.
Reader Ed has asked for a summary of the recent community meeting. The Thursday evening meeting brought at least 60 residents out of their historic homes to talk crime. Attendees seemed to fall into three camps: those who are all too aware of long standing crime issues and frustrated by repeated calls to the police that produce little result, those who are completely in the dark as to what and who is happening around our homes, and those who sat there quietly.
The meeting was led by the Pomona Police Department employee in charge of helping to organize neighborhood watch groups. At least one seargent and one beat cop were also in attendance. Lincoln Park's beat cop is named Officer Billy Dinh and he is supposed to be a real go-getter. To talk to him about recurrent problems, you can leave a message for him at 909-620-2155, ask for the desk (unfortunately it's not his voice mail, which the city of Pomona seems to be adverse to in general) and he vowed to get back to you. Officer Dinh's number was the single most important bit of information I took away from the meeting.
(Remember too to still report all crimes/suspicious people to 622-1241.)
At the meeting, we heard about prostitution along our streets and alleys, car break ins, and of gangs and drug dealing at the park. Residents reported driving through the area at all times of the day and night and seeing hardcore looking individuals walking past our homes.
As for solutions? Well there was the usual one-sided debate about the bathrooms needing to be closed during the week. There was some two sided debate about gating the alleys. Council person Paula Lantz was not there. Police chief Joe Romero was not there. Honestly, other than call the police and organize communication between neighbors, I didn't hear a lot of solutions.
Other little factoids: there are only 7 police officers on duty in Pomona on any given night. I am wondering if that includes the loud one up in the sky? We were told that the City just got a new helicopter which will be quieter than the old one. I think I have heard it, and it is. We were told that we need to keep our eyes open and keep calling the police. We were told there would be no apologies for how rude the dispatchers can be, because it is a stressful job.
When I called since the meeting to report men in backpacks in the children's play area with no children, smoking, waiting, all consistent with the drug dealing, I was pretty much still given the brush off. EAch time, the men stayed at the park for hours on end without any police response that I saw. In the end, the only way we got the men to leave one day was when a group of us mothers marched into the park with our children and dogs. Proving to me once again that the only way to take back the park is to increase the population of people who regularly go to the park, as opposed to waiting for the police to make it a priority.
The best part of the meeting by far was just seeing all the friendly faces coming out to stand up for our area. Our kids liked the meeting too, as a large group of Lincoln Park children were playing nicely in the back yard and upstairs the whole time.
oh and I almost forgot, funniest comment made at the meeting: "Paula Lantz? Does she really exist."