At seven o’clock on a recent evening, an incident on State Street pointed out the urgent need for policing in downtown Santa Barbara. A very aggressive and obviously unstable woman accosted a young woman who was in Santa Barbara on business. Seeing that the visitor was frightened and being pursued, we motioned her to join our group. In the meantime, another gentleman stopped and engaged the woman in conversation that soothed her enough for the young businesswoman to eventually continue on her way. The aggressive woman continued to rant, but, by then, people were cutting her a wide swath. As usual, there were no police officers on the street. While those of us on the street were able to handle the immediate situation, it could have escalated and resulted in injury. Once it was over, it seemed like the time to call the police was past.
Many of us enjoy the downtown area and want to continue to do so, but I wonder if the police and the City Council put a priority on street safety. I’d like to see them walking downtown day and night to get to know the people on the street, to build up a continuing and visible law enforcement presence, and to intervene when required to provide a safe downtown for all.