Looking for new ways to combat a rising crime rate, the Santa Monica Police Department has launched a program to deploy its massive, mobile command post throughout the city.
Affectionately nicknamed “Optimus Crime” by officers, the 30-foot vehicle has two conference rooms, air-conditioning, a refrigerator and access to the city’s incident management system and law enforcement software.
Generally reserved for big events like the Twilight Concert Series and major incidents, Optimus Crime will now be parked all over town.
“We listen to you,” said Sergeant Roberto Villegas, explaining why the department chose Reed Park for the first stop Thursday. “It’s about providing a safe community for everyone.”
The department couldn’t have chosen better weather to congregate at the park. As a dozen cops crowded around the vehicle, two nannies played with babies in the grass while an elderly man read the Los Angeles Times. A half dozen homeless people dozed throughout the park.
For the most part, everyone seemed at peace. Lt. Saul Rodriguez said there have been recent resident complaints about criminal activity at the park. Rodriguez said a group of young transients are responsible for complaints throughout the city.
“They’re moving around quite a bit, but we’ve been picking off a few here or there for various violations,” Rodriguez said. “We know where they’re at, then we’ll make an arrest, then they move.”
Rodriguez would not reveal future destinations of the substation, but said they will include public spaces like Palisades Park and private parking lots like the Vons on Lincoln Boulevard. The community can reach out to the SMPD through social media websites like Facebook and Twitter to request Optimus Crime in their neighborhood.
“We want to let people know we’re here, we know it’s a problem,” said Lt. Saul Rodriguez. The command station was purchased for about $650,000 after the 2013 Santa Monica shooting that left six people dead across the city. It is expected to last the next 20 years, according to city documents.