Stop Reduction of Ranger Patrols Downtown

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Impact

Impact: 
The reduction of ranger patrols in downtown Santa Cruz would affect business owners that often fall victim to crimes such as property theft on a daily basis, which require immediate response. Rangers are better equipped for aggressive situations than hospitality security, meaning the victims of crime in downtown stand to lose a proper response.

Debate Summary

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There has been a motion by the city to reinstate the hospitality program and
reduce downtown ranger patrols. Rebecca Unitt, representative for city
Economic Development, said that rangers are missing the “friendly
ambassador component,” illustrating a disconnection to the seriousness of
crime that continues to plague the downtown community. Given that Santa
Cruz has one of the highest crime rates in California, it is a necessity that
security downtown be well equipped to handle high volumes of crime daily,
the emphasis should not be placed on making security “friendlier” but rather
more effective. Downtown business owner Jenny Marini agrees. “The
downtown rangers are an amazing resource for us,” Marini states, “I call them
at least two or three times a week and they are there within minutes.” She
also said that she would not support reactivating the hospitality program at
the cost of reducing Ranger patrols. Rangers have been more
responsive and should not be diminished.

Additional Information

Additional Description: 
Santa Cruz Park Rangers have replaced the hospitality program since 2016 in an attempt to better address the plethora of crime occuring daily on the streets of downtown Santa Cruz. Park Rangers are better suited to deal with aggressive suspects, given that they equip all the standard tools of police minus a firearm, unlike their Hospitality Ambassadors. In the past 20 years, even though 911 calls have increased by 53%, Santa Cruz’s police department staffing has only decreased. As a result, 911 response time has increased from an average of 3:59 in 1998 to 5:21 in 2015. The inability of the city to swear in an appropriate amount of police to address population increase should motivate Santa Cruz citizens to compel the city to not gut the Downtown Ranger Program.

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J. Wagner
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