Ed Ward, San Clemente

As reported in the San Clemente Times’ Feb. 14-20 edition, during a homeless update at the Feb. 5 San Clemente City Council meeting, Lt. Mike Peters, chief of San Clemente Police Services, shared his frustration with social media posts regarding the city’s homeless situation. Lt. Peters went on to comment that monitoring social media opinions on San Clemente’s homeless situation is like watching “a bad train wreck.”

He shared that it is divisive and “not helpful” to share comments that are not based in the realities of this complex situation. I could not agree more; furthermore, our chief of police should follow his own advice.

Frequently, Peters uses public forums to extend his public comments beyond the scope of his expertise and beyond what is appropriate for his position as the leader of city-funded services. The council meeting was no exception. At this meeting, Peters shared CDC charts detailing reductions in incarceration following the passage of AB 109 and Props 47 and 57. Peters directly inferred that this legislation has resulted in an increase in the homeless population.

Is that a verifiable fact, or is that Lt. Peters’ personal opinion? Peters said that drug addicts “get clean” in jail? Really? Does data support this claim? Or, how about his claim at the same meeting that the recent California Bail Reform initiative is further evidence of California “traveling down this pathway of restricting law enforcement”?

Huh? Again, I ask, is this his opinion, or fact? The chief has a track record of sharing personal views presented as “professional insights” at official city forums.

Lt. Peters’ expertise is in law enforcement. We rely on him to guide the city in this area, and we are grateful for his service. Public service is a privilege that should dictate against attending a public forum (in an official capacity) and to use that forum to share your unfounded, unofficial political views.

At one point during the council meeting, Peters suggested that the citizens of San Clemente should “understand what you’re talking about before you spout off.”
I could not agree more.

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comments (1)

  • I have a great deal of respect for Chief Peters, and I understand where he’s coming from, and I appreciate the things he said that “stand up for” homeless folks in town. I noticed how he started his presentation with the crime stats and the homelessness stats, and was very concerned that he seems to have – perhpas inadvertently – communicated that the folks on our streets are criminals/should be in jail. There are people in the community who would not think critically about what he said, and would jump at the chance to now say “Even Lt. Peters says they’re all criminals,” and too many people who would believe that.

    I’m not questioning Lt. Peters’ expertise or “right,” if you will, to speak on the issues on which he spoke, but I did want to comment that that part of his report was misleading, and could feed into stories that interfere with our ability to reach proper solutions to community issues.

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