Interim Chief Perez Details Policing By the Numbers at Committee Meeting

Published : Thursday, June 21, 2018 | 6:04 AM

Interim Police Chief John Perez (left) welcomed new Pasadena Police dispatchers at Wednesday's Public Safety Committee meeting. Also pictured (back row from left to right) Councilmembers Tyron Hampton and Steve Madison and (at far right) City Manager Steve Mermell. The new Dispatchers are David Covarrubias, Alisane Gallegos, Janet Trujillo, Alicia Sherwood, Crystal Devis and Alyssa Perez.

Interim Chief of Police John Perez delivered a report detailing a wide-range of police activities over the past month to the City’s Public Safety Committee last night.

While slightly higher than last month’s 15 percent reduction, Interim Police Chief John Perez told the Committee Wednesday that the year-to-date drop in the number of calls for service to police is now at nine percent, still a significant drop from 2017.

Perez, in his monthly report to the Committee, also noted a 43 percent decline in robberies, a 13 percent reduction in assaults, and a 33 percent drop in residential burglaries. Overall, almost all categories of crime have seen drops, although reported rapes are up 29 percent over last year, which reverses a two-year downward trend, said Perez.

In addition, said Perez, there has been a dramatic reduction in Use of Force incidents, with only 12 so far this year as compared to 28 at this time last year. Citizen complaints against police have also dropped, said Perez, with 15 complaints at this time last year, and only four this year to date.

Perez also told the Committee the department hopes to expand its Police bike patrols, scheduled to begin this week.

In addition, Perez noted the success of the Department’s body worn cameras, and said that their use and maintenance is being monitored daily.

“The review of these tapes is complicated and time-consuming, but important,” said Perez.

City Manager Steve Mermell also told the Committee that other Southern California cities are contemplating the use of body-worn cameras, but are concerned about the cost. Mermell noted that Pasadena has been able to maintain its camera use at a manageable cost—under $400,000 yearly— and said that Pasadena is far ahead of other cities in their implementation.

“We are leaders in the state,” said Perez.

As part of the Change of Command review since assuming the Interim Chief position following the departure of Chief Phillip Sanchez, Perez told the council that the department is continuing to review the department’s review of its Gun Waiver policy following the indictment of former Lt. Vasken Gourdikian on federal illegal gun sales charges last year.

Perez also emphasized that the Department hopes to complete its final investigation into the police custody death of Reginald Thomas in 2016, and that the Department is still actively working on an Internal Affairs investigation of the November 2017 arrest of Christopher Ballew, which was captured on cellphone video shown around the world and which resulted in numerous injuries to Ballew.

Ballew has still not been officially interviewed by Pasadena police, said Perez.

While Perez did not speak to the reasons for the drops in crime numbers, Pasadena police spokesman Lt. Jason Clawson said before the meeting, “The decreases in crime in 2018 in Pasadena required community effort.”

Clawson has attributed the improvement to multiple factors.

He said last month that community education has played a vital role in lowering crime since from it residents learn how to reduce their vulnerability, and he praised the vigilance of Pasadenans who follow the “See something say something” principle.

Clawson also attributed visible policing efforts in neighborhoods, good police work and investigative efforts such as predictive crime strategies, seizing guns off the street, and excellent investigative efforts in arresting suspects.

Councilmember Tyron Hampton also praised Perez for his leadership, saying “You have done a good job in releasing police videos, and I want to commend the department on its transparency.”

Hampton questioned Perez on the fact that an unnamed Pasadena Police Officer has been on paid leave for some months now, pending a federal investigation into illegal gun sales. Perez agreed with Hampton that the situation was troublesome, but said that the department could not move further against the officer until the completion of the Federal investigations.

The Committee and Perez also discussed the tracking of police complaint numbers, with Altadena activist Joyce Perry claiming that many complaints submitted were not always recorded. Both Perez and Mermell told the committee that all “formal” complaints with statements from victims were reported and recorded.

Perez, in regard to a question from Perry, also told the Committee that he was working on having access to the Police Department headquarters building lobby, via the records department doors, more open and accessible.

“Our goal is to have the full lobby open,” said Perez. “It’s beautiful and it should be open.”

The year-to-date figures are collected by the Pasadena Police Department Records section. They are based almost entirely on 911 calls, and thus cannot be directly correlated with FBI Uniform Crime Reporting crime statistics.

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