‘This community needs support': Hillcrest holds LGBT+ and Law Enforcement Summit

With Pride festivities in the coming weeks, safety concerns are growing after a number of possible hate crimes in San Diego's Hillcrest neighborhood

The LGBT+ and Law Enforcement Summit in Hillcrest on June 12, 2024.

Law enforcement from across San Diego County gathered in Hillcrest for the LGBT+ and Law Enforcement Summit on Wednesday.

The annual gathering is a chance for law enforcement, Hillcrest residents and community leaders to discuss safety concerns in the area. This comes on the heels of recent gel pellet attacks and vandalism in the Hillcrest community.

Pride Month is well underway, and the San Diego Pride Parade is just around the corner.

Last month, a security guard in front of Rail was hit in the arm with gel pellets. In the same 30 minutes, the VIP Host at Rich’s was hit in the eye.

Some participants at Wednesday’s summit say they are feeling under attack.

“It’s kinda scary, especially with Pride just coming up,“ one audience member said.

“I had not had that fear until the pellets started hitting the club. That is the fear I have now, and I shouldn’t have that fear,“ another audience member said.

The summit took place at the side patio of Rich's night club.

“Have the trust to follow up, and expect us to do the same, and then follow up if we don’t. Everyone has a boss, including people up on this stage,“ Coronado Police Chief Rick Martinez said.

Participants and community leaders were pleased to have so many members of law enforcement speak with them. But they still have many questions and concerns, including response times.

"We kind of feel sometimes stranded, and I know there is a shortage, for sure. I get it, but this community needs support, and we don’t always have it,“ Hillcrest business owner Moe Girton said.

"We know that the police are understaffed, so how can they work with the community to leverage what they have," Benjamin Nicholls, executive director of the Hillcrest Business Association, asked.

New San Diego Police Chief Scott Wahl committed to more creative ways to serve Hillcrest and lean more heavily on community resource officers. He was well received for his candid responses about some department shortcomings. 

“Our dispatch system is imperfect. It is based on priorities, and depending on the nature of the calls coming in, in that moment, those priorities are constantly moving,” Wahl said.

District Attorney Summer Stephan says they reorganized victim services after getting input from multicultural and Pride communities.

“We are serving the whole person, as they come with their culture, their gender identity or their sexual orientation,” Stephan said.

Listening is perhaps the most important thing law enforcement can do at these summits.

“I am excited for the new leadership to lean into the challenges we have. Making sure that the messaging we’re getting today translates when we call 911,“ Nicholls said.

“They’re open to listening and hearing, but there is a lot of work and improvement that needs to be done,“ Girton said.

Participants came to the summit with a desire for better relationships with law enforcement so that police service will get closer to meeting expectations.

Police are adding patrols after three people were injured by gel pellets at several businesses. NBC 7's Dave Summers reports.

Police also provided an update on the recent attacks in Hillcrest being investigated as possible hate crimes. Investigators say there were five related incidents on May 18, starting in Old Town and ending in Hillcrest.

The spree lasted 30 minutes. Despite security cameras capturing the image of the car involved, they did not detect the license plate.

Police are looking for a black series three BMW between the years 2019 and 2023.


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