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Political Gumbo: It’s Time to Get Serious About Guns

Published on Thursday, October 28, 2021 | 6:48 am

In the past several days an increase in shootings has left several people seriously hurt and once again sparked concerns about local violence.

On Wednesday night, the fourth shooting in three days occurred when car-to-car gunfire erupted on Washington Boulevard near Los Robles leaving one man injured. 

On Tuesday a man was shot and seriously wounded at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Robinson Park close to where kids were playing. 

That shooting followed an incident less than 24 hours earlier that left two men critically wounded shortly before 10 p.m. in the 100 block of North Summit Avenue. 

Twelve hours later gunfire erupted in a parking lot at Fair Oaks Avenue and Washington Boulevard about 10:45 a.m. 

Thankfully, no injuries were reported in that incident. 

One day earlier on Sunday afternoon, sheriff’s deputies investigated a shooting that left two men wounded on Mariposa Streets near the Altadena Library.

The streets are not getting hot again. They have been hot for some time.

Sadly, not a day goes by when we are not forced to report about a shooting or guns being recovered during traffic stops. At the rate we are going it is just a matter of time before a fatality occurs. 

Just 20 years ago it was so rare to report shootings in Pasadena, that local newspapers constantly cited the two and a half years the city went without a gun homicide among young people after then Police Chief Bernard Melekian boldly proclaimed “No more dead kids.”

Recently, the City Council agreed to allocate a $640,000 contract for controversial technology that deploys microphones and sensors in certain neighborhoods to determine the location of gunshots and quickly alerts police.

Before that there were more license plate readers and a new police helicopter.

But we have to do more, a lot more.

It’s time for everybody to get serious about the proliferation of guns in Pasadena, including elected officials, neighbors, parents, educators, local businesses, activists, churches, liberals, conservatives and progressives.

Earlier this month, the City Council’s Public Safety Committee (PSC) heard a presentation on Pasadena’s police officer-involved shooting (OIS) investigative process and related policies.

It was a needed and spirited conversation. 

Isn’t it time we had the same serious conversation about what’s going on in our streets. 

Last year the Pasadena Police Department took 288 guns off the streets.

Great work.

But consider this, according to the city’s dashboard 363 local residents have died from COVID-19. The city has taken every necessary step to save lives. 

Illegal guns have become a social pandemic and we need to fight that pandemic just as we combatted COVID with action and information from not just the police department, but multiple city departments. 

Over the past two weeks more than 150 people signed off on a letter demanding the City Council retain campaign financing on local elections.

The City Council consistently receives phone calls demanding answers on the officer involved shooting of Anthony McClain.

All of these are worthy causes that deserve attention. 

But it’s time to give the same attention to local guns and gun violence, and no I am not saying we should ignore one over the other.

The city and its elected officials can do more than one thing at once. 

Work needs to be done to keep guns out of the hands of young people at the same time we demand police respect the rights of Black citizens.

A meeting is scheduled to discuss the issue. Let’s hope it does not devolve into more screaming and yelling that results in nothing but disruption. 

In 2007 after local teen Ebony Huel was tragically shot outside the Underground, an illegal club on North Lincoln Avenue, by a man gunning for a rival who had testified against him in an armed robbery trial, the city immediately took action. 

The City Council sparked by then-Councilmember Jacque Robinson formed an ad hoc committee to study the city’s crime and violence issues, focusing on prevention, intervention and law enforcement. However, little was accomplished and the group ultimately disbanded.

It’s time to try again. 

It’s time to bring together our partners in the PUSD, local parents, law enforcement, business owners, forward-thinking activists, the recently hired independent police auditor and local nonprofits like Ideal Youth and Day One.

We have a Police Oversight Commission and a commission dedicated to housing. I commend the mayor and the City Council on that work, but building more housing won’t make a difference if bullets are flying outside the front door. 

And let’s face it, if the police keep encountering people with guns it’s only a matter of time before the city deals with another officer-involved shooting. 

No doubt some will scoff because they live in districts outside the area where the violence is currently occurring. 

Take heed, there are no walls between our neighborhoods, if left unchecked the violence will spread.  

The time to act is now. 


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One thought on “Political Gumbo: It’s Time to Get Serious About Guns

  • Acknowledging that Pasadena has a gang problem would be a good first step. Identifying the reasons that young people join gangs and then developing a plan to address those reasons is a good plan to deal with the prevention and intervention aspects of a prevention, intervention, and enforcement (PIE) model of engagement. Unfortunately, the enforcement aspect of this model is where the challenges arise. There are those in the community that claim that “over policing” has been, and is still occurring in the north west community of Pasadena. I don’t know exactly what is meant by the term “over policing.” Doesn’t it make sense to deploy more police resources to the areas where violent crime is occurring? It would be irresponsible for any police department to ignore data (i.e. calls for service, crime reports, etc.) and evenly divide it’s resources amongst the entire city ignoring the fact that there is a greater need in certain parts of the city and a lesser need elsewhere. The police don’t create the facts, they only respond based on the facts. The fact is that most of the shootings are occurring in the north west community of Pasadena. If the community wants the police to reduce violent crime, it can be done. It will require pro-active policing, but pro-active policing requires the support of the community and the city council. The constant call for the firing of police officers by a particular council member does nothing to encourage the police to want to engage in pro-active policing. Pro-active policing involves contacting gang members, some of which are armed. It is dangerous work and sometimes these gang members pose a deadly threat to officers requiring officers to respond with deadly force to protect themselves and others. Unfortunately, many activists and a council member create their own narrative and place the blame on officers rather than on the individual who chose to carry a firearm and then chose to draw that firearm when contacted by the police. Gun violence is a serious problem for the city of Pasadena and is only exacerbated by those pushing false narratives and personal agendas.