There is no doubt that Redlands has some of the finest police officers anywhere. Our Redlands Police Department is a group of dedicated professionals who literally risk life and limb for our community every day. While their heroics have been seen nationwide related to the recent San Bernardino mass shootings, there are truly heroes because they consistently do their work every day without fanfare. I have spent a great deal of time speaking with people currently on the police department for the last several years, and I am honored to have the endorsement of former Redlands Police Department Chief Jim Bueermann, who is an innovative forward thinker on policing issues.
I recently spent time on an evening ride along where I got took the opportunity to talk to more officers both in the station and whom I rode with around town. I was impressed by how they talk to members of the community, making sure that they have a presence that makes us all feel safe, without trying to keep anyone from enjoying themselves. Often an officer would go into a business, talk to the person that called them, letting them know the state of the law and asking what would they like to do to help to solve their problem. They often knew the people that they came across in the community. As one officer told me, community policing is not just being out in the community, but also giving citizens, through clear communication, the tools to help solve their own problems.
Spend any time at the police department, and the first thing you realize is how woefully inadequate their facilities are. The city closed the former police Safety Hall in 2008 due to structural defects and deficiencies, and most of their operations moved into facilities on Park Avenue, which were supposed to be temporary. But, 10 years later, they are still in facilities that are not meant to house an operation such as theirs, and which are not as safe as they could be. While being a police officer is always a risk, the last years have put officers on a heightened state of alert, making adequate and secure facilities all the more important. Additionally, there needs to be more in the way of civilian employees, as they are often on the front lines of the service component of RPD, which has suffered over the years. The loss of the recent homeless liaison (due to budget constraints) is an example.
Safety is a cornerstone issue because it undergirds everything members of a community can do. Citizens can live peacefully in their homes, send their kids to local schools, go out to eat, shop, or to the park, because they feel safe. A city can grow and thrive when it feels safe. I support the progress being made to return resource officers to our high school sites here in Redlands. We must act with urgency to help meet the challenge of getting our police department the new facilities they so desperately need. In short, our police help us, and we should make sure we are doing everything we can to help them.