Stirred by increasing crime and a mother's plea to give meaning to the murder of her son, the Carson City Council is creating a crime task force and has approved a $248,630 program to beef up law enforcement.
In a moving speech to a hushed council chamber last week, Fern Stamps talked about her son, Kimani Stamps, 15, an honor student who was shot and killed Jan. 23. Police said Stamps--by all indications not a gang member--was apparently taken for one by his assailant, who shot him in the back of the head after an encounter on a Carson street.
"You couldn't ask for a better kid," she said. "He did all the things he was supposed to. Why did he have to die?
". . . . Maybe the reason for my son being shot down by some punk kid is that I am going to do something about it, but I can't do it alone."
Mayor Kay Calas responded: "I know one of the hardest things is for God to take one of your children."
The council voted unanimously to establish a task force on crime that will be made up of residents and representatives of law enforcement and governmental agencies. Precise details of the task force have yet to be spelled out.
Calas said more community involvement is needed to fight crime. "We need your help," she told Stamps.
"You got it," Stamps replied.
Councilwoman Vera Robles DeWitt, who proposed the task force, said: "We can fund the sheriff's office. We can buy state-of-the-art equipment. But it is not enough without community support."
In a related move, the council approved the hiring of four community service officers to work for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which patrols Carson. They will answer telephone calls and free deputies for patrol. In addition, the council approved the hiring of six part-time security guards to patrol city parks, and the purchase of a traffic computer, a personal computer, two patrol cars, a van, six used cars, two hand radios and one cellular phone.
The council acted after a presentation by Capt. Ed Padias, commander of the Carson sheriff's station, who said that calls for service, now running at about 27,000 annually, have increased by 1,000 calls a year for the last three years.
Padias said deputies are devoting 77% of their time responding to calls and the remainder on patrol. It would be better for deputies to divide their time evenly between the two activities, he said.
"We have become reactive," he said.
In addition, managing the 22,000 participants of the Community Watch anti-crime program, who are organized in 889 block programs, consumes a considerable amount of police time, he said.
The crime rate in Carson, after declining from 1982 to 1986, increased 8% last year, Padias said.