“We are declaring a War on Crime,” announced Hemet Mayor Linda Krupa in a large public gathering at Hemet’s crime plagued Weston Park April 7.
The public meeting attended by Hemet police and firefighters, neighboring city police chiefs, Riverside District Attorney Mike Hestrin and many other state and county officials was called by the Hemet Mayor, the city council and Police Chief Dave Brown to officially make the “War on Crime” declaration to the voters in the city who overwhelming voted for Measure U.
The announcement about the unusual special event that promised the people of the crime-ridden city dedicating $100 million to bolstering its police, fire and emergency medical services and soon make it the safest city in the Inland Empire, brought major television stations and other news media to record the event.
The event was Hemet City Council’s public promise to take “100 percent” of Measure U’s one cent sales tax passed by its voters in November and dedicate it to city’s own police and fire departments and to bolster medical aid services to all residents.
It was appropriate to hold the public meeting the once peaceful city park that since the recession has been a center of crime, vandalism and a haven for an ever-increasing number of homeless in the city. The morning of April 7, the public park with the huge police presence, members of the district attorneys’ office, clergy, TV stations and more than 200 other officials and residents present seemed peaceful enough except for an ambulance crew giving medical aid to an ill man nearby. Applause echoed through the park as law enforcement officials outlined each step of the process to make the city and its residents safe.
Krupa told the audience that since the passage of Measure U, the city now has the resources to fight back against the criminal element that has invaded” the community.
“Today I join my fellow council members in taking this effort to the next level. We are declaring a war on crime. A declaration of war is important because we are already under attack,” she said.
Krupa went on the place the blame for the increasing crime in the city squarely on Proposition 47 Initiative, AB 109 and Proposition 57 recently passed by voters that lowered the penalties for some crimes and granted earlier releases for nonviolent and some violent prisoners.
“Far too many Hemet residents have been victimized. Criminals who have been emboldened by laws and policies in their state,” she said. “We are fed up and we intend to fight back…. Today is the day we draw the line in the sand. As a community, we are here to say, ‘Enough is enough!’”
Police Chief Brown took the microphone to thank the citizens for passing Measure U and their “enormous support.” He pointed out that there have been 4,000 victims of violent crime in the city since the Great Recession began. The result forced the city to reduce the police department by over 30 percent. He indicated that the propositions and AB47 have created the “perfect storm, and many, many people have been hurt by this recession.”
“People are clearly ready for a change,” Brown said as he explained the steps the police and fire departments are going to take to reduce crime and improve the safety of all the residents of the city in the next few years.
Looking around he told the crowd that there were representatives from every part of the Hemet community at the meeting that day showing a unity in the cause of reducing the crime and violence taking place in the city. With that unity he said, “We will restore this community to the peaceful, safe comfortable environment we all know it can be.”
To reach this goal he said the department will hire 21 more police and support staff and increase the compensation offered to bring more experienced officers and create different task forces to crack down on the different types of crime taking place in and around Hemet. He stressed that Hemet Police Department is and will continue to work closely with other law enforcement agencies in the county to reduce the criminal element plaguing the city’s businesses and citizens.
“Anyone, anyone, who elects to become involved in criminal activity in our city will become a target of this massive and aggressive effort. We are unified and prepared to take bold actions and ready to spend enormous resources to insure the safety and security of law abiding citizens of this Valley,” Brown said.
Police chiefs of neighboring Murrieta, Beaumont and members of the Riverside County Sheriff Department were also in attendance.
Murrieta Police Chief Sean Hadden, whose city is considered one of the safest in nation, following the meeting said his department will be working closely with the Hemet Police Department to reduce the criminal activity common to both.
“I think this is great,” Hadden said. “This is what they have to do. I see the synergy they are building. I am very excited for them I see great things for them.”
Beaumont Police Chief Sean Thuilliez said he believed the partnership between the city of Hemet and police department and fire department and both the LA agencies is “the message that everybody needs to hear.”
“One can encourage the other,” he said. “It is the message that everyone needs to know.”
Riverside County 3rd District Supervisor Chuck Washington said he had come to “know and love Hemet’ in the last two years in office. For the criminal element, he said it was time for the city to say that’s “enough.” He said that the county has appointed a new Station Sheriff Capt. to the community to help.
“I’m going to give you everything I got to partner will all these folks you see standing in front of you today,” Washington said. “We are not going to tolerate crime in our community and our neighborhoods crime that scares family, kids, businesses. It’s done. It’s over. We are going to take back Hemet!”
Also on hand were many pastors and members of faith-based organizations who have been helping feed the homeless in the park and help them find the mental and physical health services they need. Realizing that some were engaged in criminal activity they saw the campaign to reduce the crime in the city as badly needed.
“I see it the beginning as Chief Brown said, for all of us to join together and each do our part and see something, say something don’t just take more of the problems,” Pastor Randy Jones from the Val Vista Assembly of God Church and member of the Pastors Fellowship said.
Jones said adding more police officers will be a big help in the “War on Crime” campaign launched April 7.