By this summer, police will increase their presence on Newport Beach's Balboa Peninsula. The popular Orange County peninsula stands out from the otherwise quiet community of Newport Beach. Over the last several years it has been the site of the most police calls in the area. Complaints include public intoxication, property crimes and disorderly conduct. These issues become more serious when crowds gather for street festivals and other special events especially on many holiday weekends. Even on typical weekends, the area is a destination for many revelers who seek out the numerous nightclubs, restaurants and bars.
The Newport Beach City Council recently voted to add three more officers and a sergeant to patrols on the Peninsula during peak times. According to a local CBS story, the annual cost of adding the officers is $565, 000. Perhaps more officers on the beat will make the community safer but is the cost worth the possibility? Furthermore, more police officers on patrol may not necessarily lead to safer streets.
Safety in a community is contingent upon many factors. Citizens, business leaders, politicians and police, along with other stakeholders, must work in concert to ensure safety especially when alcohol, large groups of people and festivities are mixed. If police presence is all that increases, there is a risk that officers will be seen as disciplinarians rather than community partners in safety. In an attempt to demonstrate their strength, they may also enforce the law in ways that can appear to be overly aggressive. This may, unfortunately, lead to a backlash that will make the officers' jobs more challenging and the streets less safe.