Perspectives on crime

May 27, 2010

Comparing Ventura's crime with L.A.'s crime is like comparing these two pieces of fruit together.

There’s no denying that crime is bad in Ventura County, especially in places like Oxnard. It seems like at least 75 percent of deaths logged by the grassroots Parents of Murdered Children took place in the city. Brutal gang violence on a daily basis, drug problems, and the like.

Some crimes, though draw more attention than necessary. Take the Oxnard P.D. shooting of an armed robbery suspect this week.

The guy, who had just been freed from jail three weeks prior,  was apprehended by authorities and shot during a standoff. Some are claiming it was another case of “Suicide by cop.”

Others are coming down on the cop for using excessive force. Others still, waving the racist, anti-Latino card once again, have even said the deceased had it coming(!).

Our local competitor’s Web site logs over 360 reader comments on the story alone. The back and forth, and back and forth … and back and forth … continues for a story that, frankly, is small potatoes in the big bad world of Los Angeles crime.

Take this blog entry, for example:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/05/homicide-report-16-killings-last-week-in-la-county-four-domesticviolence-related.html

There were 16 … count ’em, 16 … killings in L.A. County last week. Four of them were domestic violence-related. That’s in one week. Ventura County hasn’t seen the likes of that for years.

Taking the officer shooting story, along with another local story today on a very inebriated, aggressive man getting ejected from a Simi Valley bar — both standard policies for both cases — makes one wonder why we get so up in arms in the VC over incidents that don’t hold a candle to what happens south of our county line.

If it means that we live in an *overall* safer area, there should be no reason to complain … that is, unless we want to duplicate L.A.’s spate of criminal activity in Ventura.

Could that happen? Maybe. Police officials like to link medical marijuana dispensaries with a rise in crime. Many marijuana dispensaries in L.A. are closing up shop. Could they migrate north and bring crime with them here?

Scroll down three blog postings on this page to find out.

I wouldn’t say there’s any part of Ventura County that’s a slice of bucolic paradise (Thousand Oaks likes to think it is), but I have to say my attention’s been piqued by the madness in Fillmore lately, a seemingly sleepy town that almost always fails to register on the news radar.

The past weekend alone, police begin their search for two men suspected of assaulting and carjacking another man outside a local restaurant.

Authorities have also been on the lookout for three teenage boys thought to be the culprits in a rash of graffiti “Krew” taggings across town.

And let’s not forget the case of the exploding soft drink vending machine. A Fillmore teen, according to police, was charged with blowing up the cola depository with an explosive device.

And those are just a few of the problems plaguing the kind city these days; if you remember, a few weeks ago I blogged about the internal gaffes happening down at city hall, where three top-ranking officials bid adieu to their posts.

If there was some sort of award given out for this sort of thing, Fillmore could win “most surprising newcomer in criminal activity.” Current title holder is Oxnard. Watch out!

Out with a bang

December 31, 2008

problem_reaction_solution_guns2

The biggest understatement about Ventura County, in my estimation, is that 2008 has gone out with a bang … literally. This year we’ve seen some of the most heinous crimes involving the use of firearms than ever before.

Earlier this month, a man was shot and killed, defenseless, at the Oxnard car lot where he worked … after he handed over his money and valuables … and while his son watched.

Talking about Oxnard, where gang gunfire is commonplace, let’s not forget about the man shot and killed at an Oxnard ATM for his troubles. One story that stuck with me was the woman motorist shot, in the face, while at a stop light of an Oxnard intersection. And Larry King? The Oxnard teen blown away by a peer in the middle of a classroom made national headlines.

But the worst was saved for last, and in this office, and countywide, we’re still reeling from the unprovoked killing of a Circle K clerk last weekend, shot point blank by a rifle-armed gunman, simply for showing up and doing his job.

The debate over the usefulness of handguns will never cease. In the wake of these tragedies, we hear the same polarzing rhetoric. On one side, anti-gun activists want to do away with all firearms, with the belief that the extinction of guns will naturally lead to an evolution of less violence and more civilized behavior. The other side, crying for a “call to arms” and a bullet-stocked defense of the Second Amendment. 

Just in the last two days we’ve even seen examples of people fighting back. A band of employees managed to overcome five young thieves from making away with some merchandise at an Oxnard clothing store. And here in Ventura, a woman shot a burglar who broke into her house.

The collage I found for this posting raises a lot of questions about the situation. Is the problem that guns are too easy to obtain by the unstable members of our society? Is the solution about enacting stricter guidelines, or is it about eliminating guns altogether? And are we really reduced to slaves if we become defenseless? And are we defenseless if we’re weaponless?

I think it was author Martin Amis who said it best:

“Bullets cannot be recalled. They cannot be uninvented. But they can be taken out of the gun.”