Pat Murphy …It’s popular and it’s happening across the country. It’s taking place in cities like Edmore, Pontiac, Southhaven, Suffolk, Frisco, Kalamazoo, Yuma, Tampa, Rancho San Diego, Del Mar, Encinitas, and yes, here in Vista. I’m referring to Coffee with the Sheriff. Set-up by the City of Vista in response to requests from the community, Coffee with the Sheriff in Vista held a third public gathering on Thursday, February 8th. This was an opportunity to meet and engage with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and specifically with the men and women from the Vista Sheriff Station. Attendees were able to ask questions, voice concerns and get to know deputies who patrol our Vista neighborhoods.
Patrol Officers, Motor Officers, and Special Duty Officers that deal with Graffiti and the Homeless were on hand. Some had started work at 3 am and were still able to attend the Coffee with the Sheriff. The law enforcement officers crowded into the meeting room at 8 am and outnumbered the 17 citizens that I counted. Not all the attendees were Vista residents and some of the first questions from the audience were somewhat aggressive. Answers were demanded of the Sheriff even after it was explained that the two officer involved shootings being asked about were being litigated and could not be commented on.
Photos by Pat Murphy
Captain Charles Cinnamo calmly responded to the assailing questions and extended an invitation to everyone in the crowded room at the IHOP restaurant to speak with the officers that were there to talk about their very difficult jobs. Cinnamo also pointed out the various specialties within his department and elaborated on the officers that are assigned to work with the homeless population. I took the opportunity to speak with the motor officers, the officers in charge of Vista’s Graffiti. Next month, I plan to do a special story about the Sheriff Officers that deal with the difficult issues around the homeless population.
From Sgt. Gonzalez I learned that most of the traffic accidents are the result of distraction. Cell phones and DUI are leading contributors. Officer Storm told me that Graffiiti can be found everywhere in Vista but gets reported quicker in the downtown area. She went on to say that lights and cameras are good defenses against this property damage. Captain Cinnamo explained some of the intricate issues associated with policing the homeless. He stressed that he and his officers want to deal with the homeless problems in a humane manner. The main difficulty is dealing with the irrational responses that naturally come from the homeless community.
The City of Vista was well represented with City Manager Patrick Johnson who was accompanied by Council members John Franklin and Joe Green. Marketing Specialist Fred Tracy was also there to have Coffee with the Sheriff. Patrick Johnson stepped up and made my day when a lady complained about the artwork on a flyer that promotes the Junior Deputy Program in Vista. A photo on the flyer depicted a young Junior Deputy that was dressed in military attire that people found inappropriate. The lady thought the Sheriff should use better photos. Johnson pointed out that the poster was the creation of the City of Vista and then he produced a brand new flyer (made earlier in the day) that had the offensive photo replaced with a much nicer photo. This was a perfect example of the public communicating with the city, the city actually listening, and the city taking corrective action.
Sarah Spinks, the dynamo artist behind the Only Losers Litter movement in Vista, came to have Coffee with the Sheriff. Sarah expressed concern about the Graffiti around Vista’s two Skate Parks. This prompted Captain Cinnamo into telling us how he has been trying to find a couple of Sheriff Officers that still have skateboards in their garages. Everyone appeared to agree that a couple of officers on skate boards could have a big impact with the youngsters using the skate parks.
Also attending the Coffee with the Sheriff were the white shirted members of the Sheriff Senior Voluntary Patrol who told me they are in need of more Senior Volunteers. These dedicated volunteers (seniors 50 years and older) provide many valuable services to the community including: Home vacation security checks, enforcing handicapped parking, Abandoned Vehicle Abatement, Visiting the homebound (You Are Not Alone – YANA), Conducting residential / business security surveys, and assisting Crime Prevention with public presentations.
The Sheriff Department and the Deputies in the various assignments use a systematic approach to solving problems which includes the development of partnerships within the community, and or with other agencies, groups and individuals. This enables the Sheriff Deputies to deal with various issues that are affecting the community including prostitution, human trafficking, graffiti, alcohol and tobacco related crimes. Having a regular dialog with the citizens of Vista via “coffee with the Sheriff” helps establish these needed partnerships.
Captain Cinnamo is currently looking to establish a Citizen Advisory Committee. The Coffee with the Sheriff meetings may turn up candidates for this committee. If you are interested in this committee or if you just want to learn more about the men and women who protect us I suggest you attend a Coffee with the Sheriff session. The City of Vista will announce the next one and theVistaPress.com will publicize it.