Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - August 12, 2011

Guest Opinion: A letter to the community

by Ronald L. Davis

The months of June and July have been extremely challenging for our community of East Palo Alto. The tragic murders of Izack Garcia, Catherine Fisher, Jabari Banford, Hugo Chavez and Kevin Guzman have tested our resolve to create and maintain a safe community. Yet, as a community we responded to this challenge not with fear but with immediate action and a unified message that we will not tolerate violence.

Because of these actions, the police department has received numerous tips that have led to significant leads in all five murders, including the identification and/or arrest of suspects in at least three of these tragedies. This community is literally removing the historic barriers created by the "Stop Snitching" culture that has plagued our community and communities throughout the nation. I can only hope that this response provides solace to the families of the victims as well.

The community has also partnered with the police in Operation Ceasefire through its participation in the advisory committee and the call-ins, which offer gang members and at-risk young persons alternatives to their lifestyle. Hundreds of community and faith-based leaders and organizations are actively engaged in community outreach programs that are savings lives every day. We witnessed an example of that engagement last week with the tremendous participation in National Night Out.

The community's response to this recent challenge is equaled only by the contributions of the outstanding men and women of the police department. They have worked tirelessly to respond to this spike in violence, and they continue to work with you every day to make our community safer. I am extremely proud of them and the sacrifices they make.

It is because of all of these efforts that I remain confident that we are heading in the right direction. The recent spike in violence, albeit tragic, must not change our course or lessen our confidence. Rather, let it strengthen our resolve to achieve even greater crime and violence reductions in the future.

A recent report that compared the city's crime statistics this year, through June, to those last year demonstrate continued crime and violence reductions. Cases of rape, assault, assault with a deadly weapon and motor vehicle theft all decreased, with a 9 percent decrease in total crime. Although these "numbers" do not lessen the pain of the families of the victims nor minimize the impact of any violence to our community, this report highlights the fact that we are on the right track.

Ronald L. Davis is the police chief of the City of East Palo Alto. He can be reached at rdavis@cityofepa.org.

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