Local officials, including San Diego’s Chief of Police and representatives from the District Attorney and City Attorney’s Offices, among others, gathered at Thomas Jefferson School of Law on Feb. 28 for a town hall meeting to discuss public safety and how the community can help.
The event was hosted by TJSL’s Center for Law & Social Justice and the East Village Association, the nonprofit corporation that manages the East Village Business Improvement District.
Professor Alex Kreit, the Director of TJSL’s Center for Law & Social Justice, provided an overview of the homeless situation in the community and explained that it’s difficult to pinpoint whether AB109, the Assembly Bill signed by Governor Brown nearly two years ago that made fundamental changes to California’s correctional system, has had an impact on homelessness, as some critics suggest. Professor Kreit pointed to other factors, such as the economy, that may play a role. He said the real question to ask is, “What can we change?”
Other guest speakers at the meeting included: William Landsdowne, San Diego’s Chief of Police; Dion Akers, Community Representative from San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria’s Office; Lisa Rodriguez, County of San Diego Deputy District Attorney; Danielle Stroud, Deputy City Attorney for the San Diego City Attorney’s Neighborhood Prosecution Unit; and Ryan Loofbourrow, Director of the Downtown San Diego Clean & Safe Program. They all explained their services and offered helpful suggestions and contact information for community members who may experience problems with homeless individuals and individuals who may be committing crimes.
Chief Landsdowne reminded the packed meeting room that it isn’t a crime to be homeless and that, as a society, we should be compassionate. At the same time, he and other officers from the police department explained how and when to bring to their attention notice of problems with the homeless. Chief Landsdowne also noted that the response time for emergency calls in the East Village is 5-and-a-half minutes, which is one of the fastest in the city. He said the East Village is better policed and better serviced than many other areas.
A question and answer period followed the presentations and several members of the audience said they found the information provided very helpful.