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Zero-Tolerance Raids by Police in Santa Ana

July 03, 1988

This letter is in response to the media coverage of the Santa Ana Police Department's use of federal "zero tolerance" laws.

Actually, seizure of vehicles under federal authority transporting narcotics is not new at all. For years, Santa Ana police as well as other local agencies have been seizing vehicles.

What is new is the media hype and show of force being used in place of good police work.

The police administration claims that it is flooding the crime-ridden areas with police officers. Well, what happens when the week is over? What happens to that flood of officers? Do they go out with the tides? Or do they go back to their public relations jobs, such as foot patrol?

A show of force doesn't stop the crime. It's nothing more than an inconvenience to the crooks.

What does stop crime is good old-time police work performed on an everyday basis by officers who are happy with their jobs, their working conditions and their salaries.

Yes, the Santa Ana police get some great press. The administration is great at stroking the folks. But they don't get the job done. Like the administration told the officers in 1986: "It doesn't matter if the public is safe. It only matters if they think they are safe."

As a Santa Ana businessman, I object to my tax dollars being squandered on public relations while my vehicles are being burglarized.

As a former Santa Ana police officer, I am saddened by watching one of the finest police departments in the state circle the drain.

My prescription: Pay your police officers what they are worth and give them working conditions that are tolerable, keeping in mind that they too have families to consider.

Most important, forget the public relations. This city cannot afford it. Get a handle on the crime problem first, then come around for your pat on the back.

STEVEN R. ARNDS

Santa Ana

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