A group of North Park/University Heights residents gathered at the intersection of Texas and Polk streets on May 15 at 6 p.m. for an informal meeting with three San Diego Police Department officers. The “Cookies with the Cops” event was presented by the University Heights Community Association.
About 20 people enjoyed fresh cookies and bottled water or coffee while they chatted. Association volunteer Nan McGraw said “people may not go to a meeting. But they'll walk a couple of blocks and have a cookie and meet their neighbors.” They talk, she said, “to the police about issues that are specific to the neighborhood.”
Police officers spoke briefly. Andrew Mills, captain with the SDPD Western Division, said that “in order for a police agency to have legitimacy, we have to police from a democratic standpoint. That means working with the neighborhood.”
Mills said reduction of crime in North Park/University Heights “is doing well. Overall, crime is down 17 percent.” He said that “index crime is down 5 percent in the Western Division.” Index crime refers to those crimes reported to the FBI. They are: willful homicide, robbery, forcible rape, burglary, aggravated assault, motor vehicle theft, larceny over $50, and arson.
Community relations officer David Surwilo said, “We'd like to hear from all of you about what is going on.” And he discussed the police department's “Blue Tsunami” method of neighborhood crime-fighting, using two overlapping shifts to conduct heavy sweeps on a regular basis.
Lieutenant Rich Friedman spoke highly of the neighborhood. “It's a great community, eclectic; it's got a lot of different types of people. We try to make it as safe as we possibly can for you.” He said to first call 531-2000 (for non-emergencies) but to “please keep that line of communication open with us.”