Time to step up and decide how Measure U money is spent

T■ By Galen hammerle / Columnist
his week I saw the Hemet Police Department out in force. This was the most action I have seen this department doing in all my years in Hemet. I later learned that this was Operation Naughty & Nice, a high visibility “Quality of Life” sweep.
This was the third such action taken by Hemet PD in the past three weeks.
Among many of the phrases used during the election cycle was “Bad Optics.” Bad optics refers to something looking bad to the general public.
As no money has yet been collected from Measure U, I must ponder if this simply is a case of bad optics, or was inaction by HPD all part of the plan to get more money from the residents of Hemet?
According to Deputy Chief Charles “Rob” Webb, this is happening due to Hemet PD listening to the citizens of Hemet based on Measure U results. “With the recent approval of Measure U, the citizens of Hemet have made it very clear that these types of issues are a top priority in the community.”
Measure U, a general tax (deemed for public safety) passed by 61.02 percent with 15,744 votes. In a community of 83,000, I can see 15,000 being a loud voice. This was 5,000 more votes than Proposition E received in the June primary election. I guess 10,700 people did not make enough noise along with the money players in the valley to motivate HPD to take a more proactive role.
I have not heard of Hemet PD ever being proactive during my time in the valley.
And during the campaign period for E and U, many people stated that they rarely even see HPD out on the street. Crime numbers were produced to show that crime is lower in San Jacinto with fewer resources, yet HPD stayed silent except to ask for money.
Ahh, the money. Was that the tipping point that has allowed HPD to hear the concerns of the community, and to be proactive?
I raised these question to HPD Chief Dave Brown, and he informed me that, without the expected funds and manpower coming from Measure U, it would have been wasted effort to take such action.
“To be clear, it was a losing proposition to conduct these operations prior to Measure U because we did not have the resources (funding) to carry out a successful operation. We know it will take months of consistent enforcement to change the behavior of the criminally minded and to restore the quality of life our community expects. And it will be expensive. The difference is we now have the resources to get the job done, and we know our community doesn’t want us to delay. The expectation is immediate results.” – Chief Brown Hemet Police Department.
Now that Measure U has passed, I would hope that some of us who were not for this tax would apply for the Citizen Oversight Committee. Not to try and repeal the tax, or even debate its merits—this would not be the forum. This is a good opportunity to fight for the money to go where promised—police and fire, nothing else. It is also a good opportunity to test our watchdog skills and make sure the PD and FD get the most out of these funds.

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