There are three ways that a particular address can come under the program. One route is to violate the conditions of the first-response notice, which means eliciting a second police response again the same night or again within 31 days of the first-response issuance. A second method is to serve alcohol to underage people at a party. If the police discover an underage drinker at a party they have been called to disperse, they will tag the house immediately. And the third way is through the citizens' response. This takes the consensual agreement of five or more surrounding neighbors who subsequently sign a petition of citizen's arrest.
Police community-relations officer Scott Morrison reports that, in general, the program is a resounding success. "Ever since we instituted the program, we've seen great numbers indicating that it's having exactly the effect that we wanted. Now officers can be out there for the more important stuff -- the burglaries and thefts, instead of responding to loud parties."
Morrison reports that there are currently 99 houses in the program in San Diego. Eighty-eight houses have passed through the program in the four years since it began. There have been 9 arrests in 3 houses, all 9 of whom went to jail; 81 of the 99 houses in the program are in Pacific Beach and Mission Beach, where the problem is most acute; 67 evictions or move-outs have come as a result of the program as well.
"We went from getting hundreds of calls per month -- say, 350 in the July before we started the program -- down to 180 the following July, down to about 80 last July," said Officer Morrison. "We've knocked down radio calls by over 300 percent. This is a savings of considerable resources for the city."
Morrison estimates that the average cost for a first-response call at a large party could be as much as $150 to $200, for four officers in two squad cars to take an hour out of their nights and break up a noisy gathering. That means the program saved taxpayers $40,000 to $50,000 in this past July alone.
Not to mention that many of us are sleeping a whole lot better.