Hemet declares war on crime and violence

I■ Mary Ann Morris / Editor
n response to quickly becoming a city under siege, Hemet city officials, in conjunction with Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin and Supervisor Chuck Washington, have pledged to support the fight in providing solutions to the relentless crime and violence problems that continue to plague Hemet.
A press conference will be held in Weston Park at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 7 to release details. Hemet Mayor Linda Krupa and Hemet Police Chief David Brown are expected to speak at the conference, as will Hestrin and Washington. The city expects to gain $100 million over the next 10 years through Measure U, a general fund tax that is earmarked for public safety. $67 million would go toward shoring up the police department, and $33 million would go to the fire department.
Weston Park is a one-square-block city park in the center of town that once hosted soccer practices, farmer’s markets, art shows and live music, among other events, but now has been taken over by homeless persons and drug addicts. Families no longer feel safe taking their children to the park, syringes and drug paraphernalia are found in the play area, and Weston Park has had many problems with vagrancy, vandalism, fires – even feces have been smeared all over the bathrooms and flat surfaces.
“Weston Park has become a glaring example of the negative effects of the Great Recession, prison realignment (AB-109), Propositions 47 and 57 and a county jail system that is overwhelmed and insufficient to serve our county,” said Brown.
The city hopes this event will give the community a kick start to come together and take a bold stand against crime and violence.
“Far too many innocent people have been victimized by violent criminals in our city,” said Krupa. “We now have the resources to reinvest in our public safety and give them the resources they need to restore our great city.”
According to the release, Washington and Hestrin have pledged to commit the resources necessary to help revitalize the Hemet/San Jacinto Valley.
The citizens of Hemet passed Measure U, a 1 percent increase in the sales and use tax, in November after Measure E, a special purpose tax specifically for public safety, failed in June to reach the required 66 percent affirmative vote. The general fund tax became effective April 1. The city anticipates generating approximately $10 million annually from the tax, and the city council and city officials have all promised to spend the money only on public safety. However, the tax is a general fund tax, which means the money can legally be spent in any way the council deems appropriate.

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