Press release - 2/3/2009

Published 2/3/2009 (all press releases for this day)



Dear Editor:

Some of the most difficult moments as your police chief come when the phone rings in the middle of the night and you are informed that yet another young person has been the victim of violence in our city. It is both frustrating and tragic and unfortunately those calls have been more frequent in recent days.
Over the past month we have experienced an increase in violence.  While the overall crime rate in Oxnard has dropped by more than 60% per capita since 1992 we do, at times, experience these spikes of crime – typically between rival gangs that know each other and seek to inflict pain and injury.
The challenge is to mobilize quickly to interrupt the increase of activity. It is a very difficult cycle to break, a cycle that will require Herculean efforts by every facet of our community. This is not passing the buck on my part – it is simply a fact.
To illustrate how deeply ingrained this cycle of violence can be in the psyche of our youth I share a story of a six year old boy who recently spoke to one of our officers at the scene of a gang related homicide. The young boy commented to the officer that he knew the young man who had been killed. The officer attempted to console the boy, making the assumption that the boy would be traumatized by the death of his young friend. 
Instead the boy commented that he thought “it was cool” that his friend had been killed in the drive-by shooting – basically implying to the officer that dying “for the gang” was a cool way to die. Frankly, the comment from this young boy has haunted me since hearing the story.
How in the world can we, as a society, turn this ship around? I don’t have all the answers to this question but I can share that we as a police department and a city are doing everything humanly possible to curb this violence. From redeploying officers for stepped up enforcement to working with kids in our schools, to providing parenting classes to creating programs to curb truancy in our schools – we, as a police department and a city, are doing everything we can.   The police department has the full support of our elected leadership and the City Manager to attack these issues. 
One thing we have learned is that it’s not all about suppression. In fact, the Oxnard Police Department participates in a variety of different efforts currently in place with respect to prevention and intervention programs. And certainly there are many, many other outstanding efforts being made in our community by a myriad of community based organizations. These efforts have been highly effective and I believe are one of the factors for the significant drop in crime in the city going back to 1992.
However, a number of individuals have not been reached through these efforts. From our estimates we believe the individuals committing these violent acts comprise significantly less than 1% of our population. Understandably, the actions of this small percentage of our population cause great fear and trepidation among our residents.
What we as a police department cannot do, however, is take responsibility for raising the hundreds of youngsters in our city who are perpetuating this type of violent behavior. This is where the community partnership is so critical. Parents need to be good parents and the community at large needs to support these parents and provide our youth with the guidance and opportunities that will steer them away from these dysfunctional behaviors.  
So, what can the person reading this article do to help us in this effort? Please cooperate with police and share with us what they see or what they know. There is absolutely no doubt that people in our community, in every case of violence carried out in our city, have the information we need to bring these criminals to justice. A community should never live in fear of retribution from the criminal element. As a community, we send the message that we will not live in fear, that it is the criminal who should fear the community.  
We have set up an anonymous tip line – 982-7070 that anyone can call and leave any information that they may have. It is a voice mail number so their anonymity is secure. We also work hand in hand with Ventura County CrimeStoppers – that number is (800) 222-TIPS. CrimeStopper tips are eligible for cash rewards.
Working together we can rid our society of those who hinder our security and quality of life. It will not be easy and please don’t let it be the sole responsibility of your local police department. If everyone will do their part – I am confident we will have success.
John Crombach
Chief of Police

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   Feb 2009