Santa Paula Times

Crime under the spotlight at special Council meeting

March 07, 2003
Santa Paula City Council
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesCrime in the city will be under the spotlight of the City Council at a special meeting to be held Monday, March 10th that will detail various issues related to public safety.The 6 p.m. meeting will be held in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 970 E. Ventura St.At the March 3rd meeting, Judy Rice said during public comment that “public safety is my main concern. . .I think the city is perceived as a city of crime and violence.”Rice said she had visited City Hall about public safety issues and within two days was contacted by City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz and Police Chief Bob Gonzales about the upcoming special meeting.“The gang violence is horrendous and if there are not funds,” to increase police department resources, “maybe we should switch funds” to strengthen law enforcement. “Has the police department even grown in the last 10 years?” Rice asked. “I think the city should switch priorities to public safety.”At the end of the meeting, Bobkiewicz told the council that Monday’s special meeting would be “primarily dealing with crime statistics for the year ending December 31st. Chief Gonzales will also report on the graffiti program and gang issues.”Santa Paula Fire Chief Paul Skeels will also report to the council on fire emergency management and the status of the Emergency Operations Center as well as the department’s year-end report for 2002.
According to Deputy City Josie Herrera, Monday’s meeting will also include gang violence response, violence reduction/gang prevention report, implementation of the Community Policing Program and an update on graffiti suppression/prevention.The City Council will also receive a comparison report on the Santa Paula Police Department budget and other Ventura County law enforcement agencies.In February, Ignacio Henry Castro, 23 and Gustavo Ramirez, 21, members of rival Santa Paula gangs, were murdered during a loud party in the Oaks area of the city. Castro died hours later and Ramariz’s body was found hours later near the corner of Encino Place and Say Road.During 2002, Santa Paula set a record high for murders with six homicides.