Photo by Alyssa Castro
Interviews by We’Ced reporters
Ed Note: On Thursday January 29th, the City Council of Merced held one of it’s two annual Town Hall meetings in the cafeteria of Tenaya Middle School. Over 50 people gathered to discuss how to improve the city. These gatherings are meant to bring city council meetings out of the city hall chambers and out into the community. The agenda is streamlined and priority is placed on the public comment part of the meeting, a time when any and everyone can address the council directly on any issue they deem important.
Many in attendance expected a recent proposal by the city council to add one to three police officers a year for the next five years to be an agenda item during the town hall. While the council did not address their proposal directly, many attendees shared their thoughts on public safety in Merced with We’Ced reporters.
Cathy William, 17
I think [the city council] should really work on something to make it more safe for youth in the Merced area.
I feel like it will be a waste of tax-payers money to put one to three more police officers a year for the next three to five years in Merced. What the issue is that you have to focus on the good and not just the bad.
In my opinion what makes a community safe is safe after school programs, no gang violence and if we actually had protection areas that were safe for young people and everyone agreed to let those areas be in peace. I feel like the teen death rate right now is very high due to shootings and crimes. What would make the community safer is if community volunteers helped police figure out what they could do in the community so it wasn’t just the police coming in from the outside. We need more youth opportunities and more youth jobs here.
Kaeyden L., 14
I don’t think just more police will make us safer. What makes a community safe is, yes law enforcement but not too much. Good citizens make a community safe. I think high tech security systems can be a useful way to keep our streets secured.
Olivia J., 13
I came today and spoke because I’m in the youth group with Michelle Xiong. It felt weird getting up there and talking for the first time. They took like an hour talking about trees. I don’t think adding more police to Merced will make it safer. I think more activities so people get to know each other and there won’t be so much drama.
Anthony Martinez, 28
What brought me to this town hall tonight is that I think there is much to be done in regards to reshaping this town into a place of hope, a place where one wants to raise their kids and feel proud to be a part of this town.
I think that the police have great leadership and if that leadership was given the resources and means that they desire, that they are professional enough, smart enough and capable enough to make this town safer with appropriate resources. I don’t think simply giving money to the police is the answer. I don’t think throwing money at any issue will solve it. I do feel that with correct leadership, with wise leadership and appropriate resources, much can be done to make things better.
People should feel comfortable with who they’re around in their community. Part of what makes a community safe is trust and love and care for one another. One of the problems you see in different parts of Merced is that there are many people who simply don’t know who their neighbors are, don’t know who the people around where they live are and because they don’t know these people, they’re suspicious of them. What they may not realize is that those people feel just like they do!
I spoke to the council today and the mayor responded to me by saying he didn’t have all the ideas, and that may be true, but what I would wonder is if these people have a true leadership position in this town, it’s kind of up to them to have ideas. If they don’t have ideas, it’s kind of up to them to go find those ideas and find them aggressively.
Frank Delgado, 73
I see very little change taking place in our community. We’re giving a lot of dialogue but the commitment the city council says they’re making, they never follow through. I think having town hall tonight was really good for the south side of Merced. That being said, it’s more of a meeting for show. That’s my opinion. Again, they don’t really want to address issues that are significant to the south side.
I don’t think more police will make a difference in Merced. It’s the police they have in place, are they professionals? Are they part-time thugs? We see it across the country. We have more police officers involved in criminal activity and things like this. I think if you have really good quality men, I don’t think the numbers make the difference.
The real bottom line of the safety of a community is the trust they have in law enforcement. That’s kind of up in the air right now in Merced. That’s my opinion, of course. I think people like privacy but the implementation of a camera system in different locations of the city where the crime rates seems to be a little bit higher might be an asset.