Cathedral City saw an outburst of crime over the weekend. Officers responded to two separate shootings and an armed robbery on Saturday. They were also called to another robbery and beating early Monday morning. The recent spike in violence has some pointing fingers at the budget passed by the city council which calls for staff reductions, including 14 police department positions.
The budget passed 3-1, the only member who voted against was mayor pro tem Chuck Vasquez. He believes the cuts are directly responsible for the recent violence.
"We're not going to be apprehending people, we're not going to be taking people off the streets," said Vasquez. "It's a compound problem, it's not just the four officers off the street, it's the severe cuts we made to our department all the way across."
Mayor Kathy De Rosa defends the council's actions and the new budget. "We've actually lost four sworn officers from our force," said De Rosa. "We've lost a number of administrative staff in the police department and that is a challenge. That's unfortunate, but they are not officers on the street."
While the police department had to make some adjustments to fill patrols because of the cuts, they believe they have the resources they need. "The police department has enough officers to provide the level of services to the community that it needs," said Lieutenant Chuck Robinson, a police spokesman. "I think we're just seeing a spike."
Mayor pro tem Vasquez says it may not be the number of officials on patrol, but the perception of the cuts to blame. "The criminals are arrogant, they think they're not going to get caught," said Vasquez. "They think a city that the services are down, they're going to think easy pickings. That's the environment we've created, we're going in the wrong direction."
In contrast, Mayor De Rosa does not believe the criminals have taken that much into account. "Criminals are not out there waiting for a city to cut a budget," said De Rosa. "I think the Coachella Valley as a whole has seen a spike in crime. I think it's the economy."
De Rosa also adds a message for those who insult the budget. "They're being totally disrespectful to our men and women in blue, who are highly trained and professional," said De Rosa. "They're here to serve and protect the citizens of Cathedral City. I would ask the good citizens to look past the fear and realize their police officers are here for them."