OCReg: Innovative regional approaches offer promise on local public safety problems

Saturday, September 9 2017

By Josh Newman and Corey S. Sianez

For those of us working in public service during this period of increasing polarization and pessimism, building policies and programs can sometimes seem like an impossible task.

When asked to cite the problems most affecting their quality of life, two persistent social ills invariably rise to the top of people’s lists: a surge in gang activity — and its attendant rise in crime — and the growing numbers of homeless men, women and children in our communities.

The first problem has spread anxiety and fear. The second problem has deepened cynicism about government’s ability to solve problems, in the process turning Orange County into something of a national symbol: one of the wealthiest regions in America stymied by a slow-motion crisis that has transformed the spaces near highway off-ramps and riverbanks into sprawling shantytowns.

These ills are nothing if not entrenched. Over the years, people have come to regard them as unfortunate facts of life. At best, it is too often assumed, we can only manage them.

But resignation is not what we’re hearing from the community leaders and public safety professionals with whom we work. They know that the problems of gangs and homelessness don’t respect city boundaries. The problems are regional, and must be addressed with regional approaches....(Read Full Text)