Dear Editor: Recently there have been numerous letters concerning the debate over whether the City of Downey should be policed by our current community police force or the Sheriffs Department.
I have lived in Downey almost my entire life. I remember the days when our police force was considered to be one of the tougher agencies in the county. A force, if you will, that criminal elements thought twice about tangling with. As a result, our community felt safe.
Times have changed, but I don’t believe that the dedication of our police force has changed. What has changed is that we now have a stronger criminal element in our city as well as the surrounding cities. What has also changed is the ever evolving laws that seem to give the criminals more rights, while at the same time tying the hands of law enforcement when it comes to dealing with this element.
Our officers are not only facing criminals who now have more powerful and deadly weapons that they take the chance of facing on a daily basis, but they also face the increasing threat of lawsuits and loss of their jobs as a result of these same laws that seem to protect the “rights” of criminals more than they protect the victims of their crimes.
Before we start criticizing our officers, I think we should ask ourselves just how much we know about their jobs and how few of us would be willing to step up and face the dangers these guys expose themselves to each and every day.
Being policed by the Sheriffs Department is a somewhat scary thought to me. Can we expect the same response time from their department that we receive from ours? If there is a major problem in a neighboring city, will sheriff’s deputies from our area be pulled away to assist, thus leaving us with fewer officers on patrol while the problem is being addressed?
Will these deputies have the same level of dedication to the city of Downey given the fact they are not actually employed by the city? I think not. Our officers seem to display a certain amount of pride in working for our city, and I think that comes from knowing that they are working for a community that is a cut above some of the surrounding cities.
True, the Downey Police Department has had its share of controversy in terms of how some incidents have been handled. Does anyone think that this is not true of the Sheriff’s Department as well? Here is something else to consider: whenever there have been questions or allegations made regarding the Downey officers, the Sheriffs Department has been called in to do an independent investigation. If we turn our community over to the Sheriff’s, who investigates their actions when allegations are made?
Anyone who has had interaction with both of these agencies knows there is a vast difference in the overall attitude of a Downey police officer and a Sheriff’s Department deputy. This is especially true when the Downey officers are aware that you are a citizen of Downey. The Sheriff’s Department, for the most part, patrols cities that are known for a higher level of crime than our city, and they deal with a more brazen criminal element and thus have developed in my opinion, a tougher attitude toward people in general.
I think before we get eager to criticize our officers, I think we should consider these facts and ask ourselves if we really want to be protected by an organization that has no direct connection to our community, has its own record of controversy, and is not held accountable for their actions by the citizens of this great city.
The Downey Police Department has had a long history of being a top notch department. I think we need to give them the support they need and deserve.
Dave Van Selow
Published: April 10, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 52