I attended the 4/26 Santa Barbara City Council meeting to which Nick Welsh refers in his 4/28 commentary and found the meeting at once both informative and puzzling. The city administrator and the city Police Department representatives all gave professional and instructive presentations and public comment was inspired, if at times typically discombobulated.
But when the mayor opened discussion for the council members I began to wonder if they all had been in attendance. Three or four of them seemed almost incoherent, or perhaps preoccupied with campaign plans, carrying on and on about spending more money on more cops. The police department had previously stated quite clearly, and the city administrator had affirmed quite plainly, that we simply “cannot arrest our way out of this problem.”
Finally the mayor closed by alluding to a reasonable solution, albeit a bit vaguely, called “restorative justice.” Santa Barbara has a clear choice to make, we can spend our way into oblivion pursuing archaic ideas that quite clearly don’t work or we can join the 21st Century and institute restorative justice, a system that works for entire countries as well as many American cities. It’s less expensive, more effective, and far more practical for local governments and Santa Barbara would be foolish to ignore its many uses.