Q: In last week’s column, Neighborhood Resource Officer Glaser discussed private person’s arrests. What are some of the things you are looking for so I know how to help the police department make this city safe?
A: Thank you for your concern. Crimes are frequently solved as a result of a partnership between the community and its police department. This partnership is vital to keeping our community safe from criminals who look to take advantage of our citizens. We consider the citizens the extra eyes and ears of the police department. Without this vital link between citizens and the police department crimes may go unreported and unsolved.
I want to remind you to never place your personal safety or the safety of those around you in jeopardy if you see a crime which is about to occur, a crime in progress, or one that has already occurred. Being a good witness means not placing yourself or others in danger. Remain calm enough to call the police and provide critical information. Some people’s instincts are to scare suspects away, chase after them or confront the suspects after seeing a crime occur. It’s better not to confront or get involved in a conflict with the suspect. Please allow the police officers to use their training and equipment to confront the suspects. Even police officers working in a non-uniformed capacity or off-duty will still act as good witnesses and allow the uniformed personnel to make contact with a suspect.
There are several things we would like to suggest to you to help you be a great witness. If you see suspicious activity or a crime in progress please call 911. The sooner a crime is reported to the police, the higher the chances are of apprehending the suspect. If possible, and without endangering yourself, continue to monitor any activity you can observe. A police dispatcher will answer and will ask a series of questions relating to the activity you’re witnessing. Being able to quickly articulate your location will assist the officers in their response. During this stressful time it’s important for you to remain calm so you can clearly answer the dispatcher’s questions. Listen to the police dispatcher for direction and guidance. They are there to help. Some of the questions may not seem pertinent to you, but dispatchers are trained to know exactly what information the officers need to respond quickly and safely. This means that a dispatcher may need to interrupt you while you’re relaying information. It is important that during emergencies, your answers are direct and brief.
Keep in mind that during emergencies officers are usually dispatched by a second dispatcher as the information is obtained by the dispatcher taking your call. The faster the dispatcher can obtain the necessary information from you, the faster it is relayed to the officers responding.
You may also be a witness to suspicious activity, which is anything that seems “out of place” for your area. Some things to look out for are (but not limited to):
• A person walking down the street peering into parked vehicles.
• A stranger entering your neighbor’s property/house when they are away.
• Any vehicle driving slowly or repeatedly through your area, with or without lights on.
• A person selling expensive merchandise, such as speakers, at an extremely low price.
• Door-to-door salesmen/solicitors who do not have identification, refuse to show you identification, or turn the doorknob to see if the door is locked.
• Someone sitting in a parked car for an extended period of time.
These behaviors are some of the many signs that an individual is either committing a crime or looking for the opportunity to commit a crime. If you suspect unusual activity in your area, please call the Santa Monica Police non-emergency line at (310) 458-8491 and provide as much information to the dispatcher as possible. If you believe an actual crime is occurring, call 911 immediately. Our department is most effective when we receive the help of concerned, responsible citizens. So please don’t hesitate to call us, even if you think someone else already has or will. Remember your safety comes first! Don’t be afraid to call the police department. Crime prevention is everyone’s responsibility. With your help, we can keep Santa Monica among the safest cities in the county.
Throughout the city we are experiencing an increase in auto related break-ins. We are currently seeing a lot of window smash thefts. The SMPD reminds everyone to remove all valuables from your vehicle, place them in the trunk before arriving at your destination, or store them away so they are not easily visible. This includes laptops, cell phones, GPS devices, purses, backpacks, money, etc. Take these precautions at all times, whether parking on a public street or in a parking garage. These types of crimes are crimes of opportunity, so making it difficult for criminals to strike will help the effort significantly. Visit our website at http://www.santamonicapd.org for more information regarding crime prevention.
If you have police related questions or concerns we’d like to hear them. Send your questions or comments to email@example.com and you may see your question in our weekly column accompanied by valuable feedback for the rest of the community. Please note that we will supply as much information as possible without jeopardizing any legal proceedings or investigations. Remember, if you have a question, chances are another reader may be wondering the same thing. So don’t hesitate to ask!
This column was prepared by Neighborhood Resource Officer Scott McGee (Beat 5: Montana Avenue to north city limits, Ocean Avenue to 26th Street). He can be reached at (424) 200-0685 or firstname.lastname@example.org.