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ORANGE COUNTY COMMENTARY

Ready to Meet the Future

April 21, 2002|MIKE CARONA | Mike Carona is sheriff of Orange County.

The preliminary report on the 2001 California Crime Index, which measures homicides, rapes, assaults, robberies, burglaries, vehicle thefts and arson, was recently released by the state attorney general's office. As expected, the findings demonstrate the trend of low crime rates throughout the state at levels not seen since the mid-1960s.

A rise of 5.8% in the state over the previous year was reported. But taken in context, and considering fluctuations due to economic, social or demographic reasons, the citizens of California enjoy a consistently high level of security and safety.

Most cities in Orange County also reported a slight comparable rise, but the unincorporated areas patrolled by the Sheriff's Department enjoyed a 22% drop in crime. The release of the preliminary report provides an opportune time to report on the state of law enforcement in Orange County.

The readiness, professionalism and effectiveness of your deputy sheriffs and police officers are at unprecedented levels as they prepare to meet the demands of the 21st century.

The last few years have brought about new and sometimes frightening concerns. We observed an effective and large-scale terrorist attack on the United States on Sept. 11, the use of bioterrorism and a startling rise in campus-related violence.

You can take a great deal of assurance, however, that Orange County's law enforcement professionals are better trained and equipped as never before and ready to meet the challenges that lie ahead. A revolutionary effort is transforming law enforcement in the state of California.

Community-oriented policing techniques are now standard operating procedures, providing proactive law enforcement service and response to our citizens. Increased state funding and $358 million in grant funds have added front-line law enforcement personnel to our streets, increased the scope and effectiveness of basic and advanced officer training, and provided the foundation for law enforcement excellence in the 21st century.

A realization of the causes of crime and social problems has welded law enforcement and other agencies and community groups into working partnerships to increase effectiveness. The Sheriff's Department recently entered into a landmark venture with school districts to provide threat assessment and intervention services to schools throughout the county.

Our efforts to combat school violence and provide effective juvenile diversion services were made possible by $358 million in new state funding. Cooperation and facilitation are core philosophies held by the law enforcement community of this new century.

Technological innovation is sweeping through all facets of life in California. Law enforcement in Orange County is benefiting directly from the advances of the last decades. A new state-of-the-art coroner and forensics sciences facility is under construction in Santa Ana. New weaponry, including less lethal and nonlethal types, has been added to most departments. Computerization and information systems are greatly improved.

Gov. Gray Davis and the members of the Legislature are to be recognized for their leadership to bolster the effectiveness and professionalism of law enforcement in the state of California.

More than $100 million has been invested by Davis and the legislature in upgrading forensic facilities throughout the state. Their actions have also been instrumental in obtaining $146 million for high-technology equipment for local law enforcement agencies and $50 million to clear backlogged DNA testing for unsolved sexual assault cases.

The men and women who patrol our streets, investigate crimes and provide critical intervention are better than they have ever been. The citizens of Orange County can take pride in the skills and abilities of their deputy sheriffs and police officers.

The profession of maintaining the peace, preserving life and protecting property will continue to advance as long as we recognize the vital necessity of mutual cooperation and understanding.

The interaction and collaboration of citizens and local government, local and state leaders, and law enforcement agencies and the community are essential to addressing the needs of our great nation. We must all continue to strive for excellence.

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