Controversial Police Flier Racist or Fair?

The thin blue line has some critics seeing red in North County.

Seeking to gain public support in its fight with the City Council over proposed compensation cuts, the labor union representing Escondido police officers mailed a provocative flier this past weekend claiming that "gang members outnumber police officers by almost 6 to 1," reported the North County Times.

The glossy four-page mailer, which was sent to 17,000 Escondido homes and paid for by the Escondido Police Officers Association, says recent increases in crime and gang activity make it crucial for residents to protest the proposed compensation cuts at this Wednesday's council meeting, which will begin at 4 p.m. in City Hall, 201 N. Broadway.

On Monday, council members called the mailer a disappointing intimidation tactic and questioned many statistics it cited. They also warned union officials that portraying Escondido as crime-ridden might scare people away from the city, potentially accelerating a recent decline in the local sales tax revenues that help cover police salaries.

In addition, Councilwoman Olga Diaz and Latino activist Bill Flores said the mailer features racist overtones that could alienate the roughly 60,000 Latinos included among Escondido's 143,000 residents.

"It paints a fair picture of the violence in the city and the fact that it's on the rise," union President Michael Guerrero said Monday.

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