The Challenge to Our Community

ryan_coonertyWe are just as outraged and frustrated as you are about the recent violence that has descended upon our town. Between the shocking damage done in Downtown last weekend and the horrible news that another young person had his life cut short by senseless criminal activity, we have been inundated with requests by community members about what they can do to help and what the City Council is doing as well.

It is time that we all roll up our sleeves and get to work. The reality is that neither the City Council nor the police alone can solve the enormous challenges facing our city. We need to remember how this incredible place we all call home has risen to challenges before and know that we can do so again. But it will take unprecedented commitment and cooperation from people across this community.

Here are 10 ways that you can help to make our community safer:

1. If you have any information about these recent crimes, contact the Santa Cruz Police Department immediately. You can leave a message anonymously at (831) 420-5995.

2. Call 911 if you see any illegal behavior (drug dealing, public intoxication, groups hanging out in parks late at night). We need to know about problem areas and individuals if we are going to make arrests and develop strategies to ensure our community is safe.

3. Take back our public spaces. Do not tolerate illegal behavior in our downtown, parks, and neighborhoods. Call 911 if you see anything illegal.

4. Support, with your time and/or money, after- school activities. The Boys & Girls Club, Teen Center, after school sports and arts programs need your help in order to keep our kids off

the streets, out of trouble and headed toward a productive future.

5. Talk with your children. Be aware of signs that they are being recruited into gangs or may be mistaken for being in a gang.

6. Know where your children are and who they are hanging out with.

7. Stop buying drugs. Drug sales are the

reasons gangs have moved into Santa Cruz; and the sales finance the buying of weapons that are being used to kill and threaten young people in our community.

8. Support efforts to create and sustain jobs in this community. Economic opportunity creates an alternative to gang life and builds a sustainable tax base to provide funding for schools, police and youth programs.

9. Join Santa Cruz Neighbors to learn what more you can do to make your neighborhood safe. Also new community organizations like Take Back Santa Cruz are a great way to take action against crime.

10. Believe in the enormous capacity of this community to come together, find solutions and be the extraordinary town we know we are and should be.

The City Council is doing the following:

1. We have offered the Police Department any and all resources they need to combat the scourge of gangs and violence.

2. We are collaborating with the schools, district attorney, judges and other jurisdictions to develop programs, share information, and work jointly to make sure that perpetrators are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

3. We will be seeking federal funds, resources and expertise to specifically deal with gangs, drug dealers, and the anarchists destroying

our community.

4. We will continue to meet with neighborhoods, businesses and schools to share information and assist your individual efforts.

5. We will continue to believe in the enormous capacity of this community to come together, find solutions and be the extraordinary town we know we are and should be.

This will not be accomplished overnight, but we are confident that this community will emerge from these tragedies stronger than before.

Ryan Coonerty is the vice mayor of Santa Cruz. Lynn Robinson is on the City Council and chair of the Public Safety Committee.

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