Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Op-Ed on Political Scare Tactics

Following the below posted Press Release by Mayoral Candidate and Republican Asenath Kepler is an Op-Ed piece I wrote and was published in both the Albuquerque Journal North (subscription may be required) and the Santa Fe New Mexican (interesting comments). While my support and endorsement of Mayor Coss has been announced, I still feel that the true premise of my Op-Ed is about the poor use of scare tactics and not just the fact I am supporting Mayor Coss. These scare tactics are also being used by Kepler and her supporters on other issues as well, including Annexation.



Contact: Mary Ann Crenshaw & Associates


MAYORAL CANDIDATE ASENATH KEPLER TARGETS CRIME AS TOP PRIORITY and outlines her plan for reducing staggering statistics

Two well-known jewelry stores robbed in mid-afternoon in the heart of Santa Fe’s Plaza. A child’s purse snatched in her own Don Gaspar driveway, her grandfather beaten as he tried to intervene. An elderly man walking his dog in the Guadalupe Historic District pistol-whipped because he had no cash. A prominent downtown business owner murdered at 8 pm on the first night of Fiestas. A man robbed and shot on a popular recreation trail. A late afternoon armed push-in on one of Santa Fe’s busiest thoroughfares. These are just a few of the many recent incidents that make crime Asenath Kepler’s top priority.

This isn’t the Santa Fe I’ve known for over than fifty years,” says Mayoral Candidate Asenath Kepler,”and this frightening rise in crime is completely unacceptable! We’re not only going to lose the downtown merchants but visitors and residents as well”

Kepler points to a staggering rise in statistics: robberies, auto burglaries and thefts and residential burglaries all up from the 2008 figures. “People -- particularly the elderly and those who live alone -- are afraid to leave their houses after dark, even in the most central neighborhoods,” she says. “I hear the concerns every day as I campaign.”

The problem, she maintains, is the lack of police presence, a direct result of fiscal irresponsibility at the city level. “We’re down by 40 police offers,” she says, “and if we don’t act now,” she says, “I fear a major downtown incident that may set us back by years. Our city’s residential and commercial burglary rate is fourth per capita in the nation. We don’t want to wait until we’re number-one before the mayor takes action!”

Her solution: Re-allocate resources to provide increased police protection for residents and visitors alike. Kepler plans to do that with:

  • Increased and highly visible police presence in our neighborhoods and downtown Santa Fe. Kepler would work with downtown merchants to create substations in the Plaza and other downtown neighborhoods, to be manned by both police officers and public safety assistants.

  • An immediate and complete audit of all city functions, seeking adjustments of programs and services as well as staff reassignments that would provide enough savings for this increased police protection.

  • Public safety vacancy allocations. Under the current system, city employees who retire with accrued sick and vacation days are left on the books until their sick and vacation leave is paid out, a process that can take up to two years. Consequently, the vacancy is not filled until that time. Under Kepler’s plan, fiscal reorganization will provide a budgetary fund that would apportion departmental projects that would allow the police department to fill vacancies immediately.

  • Community roundtables and neighborhood forums that would allow residents to vent their frustrations, express their concerns and participate in the solutions. Kepler would work with schools to develop neighborhood centers and increase neighborhood watch groups, with PSAs assigned to assist each group.

“Crime affects the entire community,” Kepler maintains. “Without a stop to this out-of-control crime spree we cannot hope to attract more business, more tourists or more residents. We need to make Santa Fe once again the safe, secure and neighborly city that has been its image for the past 400 years.”



My Op-Ed Response.

Inflated Crime Stats Serve Candidate's Scare Tactics.

Crime is often used as a political weapon during elections. I found mayoral candidate Asenath Kepler's "crime plan" press release disturbing in that it picks out certain incidents over the last year and attempts to scare residents into voting for her.

Many of her ideas were tried and failed during the times when Debbie Jaramillo was mayor and Chief Donald Grady was running the police department.

Substations sound good to residents because they think that an officer will be sitting in a substation waiting for a phone to ring and then they will rush out to a crime just blocks away. Manned substations take officers who could be out on the streets doing preventative patrolling, catching speeders, looking for burglars and being a presence in the community and put them behind a desk.

It was tried in Albuquerque and Santa Fe and was a complete failure. You can see remnants of the old substations at Frenchy's Park, the downtown Public Library and on Alameda Street. The city police and the county sheriff's office along with state police and other agencies have a successful joint burglary task force which is working to bring down burglaries and property crimes with success.

Property crimes are on the rise throughout the nation, and New Mexico and Santa Fe is not immune. However, by creating a false reputation of Santa Fe as a high-crime city, this candidate's political scare tactics are hurting all of us. This could further damage our already lower tourist and travel industry, which is reeling from the economic downturn as a whole.

I have been impressed by Mayor Coss' ability to increase police officers in the city police force from 124 to 154 officers over the last four years. This increase in the number of police officers on the streets is greater than under any other mayor in Santa Fe's history. When you pull out the mostly economy-driven property crimes in Santa Fe, you will find that violent crime, sex crimes, and overall crime are at their lowest levels in eight years.

There is always more that we in law enforcement can do, but we must be very suspicious of candidates who try and scare up votes rather than earn them.

Greg Solano is the sheriff of Santa Fe County.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Our high burglary rate speaks for itself. Now that's scary! At least we have a candidate that's not intimidated to speak up and go against the girly men!