Stabbings on sale

May 20, 2010

They should never have closed the Ventura Police Department annex at the Pacific View Mall.

It’s still vacant after having shut down for over a year now … no replacement vendors, nothing. That was well before the failure of Measure A, the ambitious sales tax increase, 40 percent of which would have boosted our public safety services.

Would having the police annex do anything to curb crime at the mall? I certainly think so. Take the stabbing which occurred yesterday at the mall.

From what we’ve heard, two young men were accosted by three other young men at the mall, a fight ensued, and mall security were summoned to break up the fracas, already unnerving to shoppers and visitors.

But that wasn’t enough. After getting kicked out of the mall, another fight broke out, and one of the two original victims was stabbed. It was only then that the police were called. Arrests were made, yes, and suspects are in custody with some damn serious charges against them (attempted murder, street terrorism, etc.).

But had the cops been there to begin with, it’s likely the stabbing wouldn’t have happened, in my opinion, because arrests may already have been made. The suspects were gang members and could have had existing warrants. Or just the sheer intimidation of the law would have cut off any scuffle right there.

Instead, the mall, which I always thought was pretty safe, earns a shady reputation.

The argument isn’t really over the hypothetical “what-ifs” of the situation had the police been there first or not. It’s *why* the police weren’t there to begin with. I say it’s because of trust.

Yes, we’re still feeling the fallout of rejecting Measure A because we didn’t trust our elected officials to pump money into public safety funding through a sales tax increase. It’s a very familiar feeling that doesn’t go away: this week, we got news on the closure of a fire station, also from a lack of public safety funding.

It makes me wonder where else fights will break out … the frozen foods aisle of the grocery store?

It’s only primary election season, so we don’t have any important tax increase ballots this time around, with a public safety option, in Ventura. Still, it’s worth remembering this stuff for June 8, and in future elections:

Know the *real* details of ballot measures and proposed legislature in your city … and give elected representatives a second chance to fund critical services. How many stabbings or shootings do we need to realize that?

The mall might be a great place to go to fund stuff on sale, but aggravated assault isn’t one of them, no matter how deep the discount — or the knife wound. I’d pay an extra sales tax for that.