Two shootings in the last three months in the Gaslamp District helped prompt a doubling of bicycle police officers that will patrol the popular downtown entertainment district.
On August 6, officers from the San Diego Police Department met with about 100 members of the Gaslamp Quarter Association. SDPD Captain Chris Ball talked about the May 24 shooting of innocent bystander Lakeisha Mason, and the recent officer-involved shooting of a man who allegedly stole a large knife from Greystone Steakhouse and threatened officers with it.
The latter shooting, at Fourth and E Street on August 4 was not an issue to the caliber of the gang-related shooting of Mason, says Captain Ball.
Ball and assistant chief Boyd Long stressed that the Gaslamp is not in a bad state. But Ball did note that sexual assaults are up in the city, and the gangs issue is always buzzing out there.
“After the May shooting, we brought the Gangs Unit in,” says Ball. “We could put a hundred officers downtown, but your patrons don’t want to see a hundred uniformed officers. There’s a balance.”
Ball encouraged bar and restaurant owners to be aware of activities going on outside their establishments. Several Gaslamp venue owners/workers spoke up about groups that hang around outside clubs and pick fights with men or make catcalls to women.
Downtown venue operators were urged to keep surveillance cameras in working condition. And to create relationships with the downtown bike cops—and to even get their cell phone numbers to allow for faster response to situations.
Visitors to the Gaslamp, like bar and restaurant workers, should be aware of what’s happening outside the doors of establishment, and take precaution by not appearing to be an easy, drunken target.
Ron Donoho is a regular contributor to NBCSandiego.com and a contributing editor to sandiego.com. His Web site (sandiegoDTOWN.com) is dedicated to news, sports, culture, happy hours and all things downtown.