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Reform ideas based on sentiments, not facts


I had the good fortune of moving to Escondido in 1967. I have lived here, gone to school here, worked here, worshiped here, fell in love here, was married here and, in turn, we raised our family here. I currently serve as a City of Escondido Councilman representing District 4. There have been so many important and crucial events, issues, challenges and calamities over the past several decades here in our fine town, but I have not been sufficiently motivated to express my opinion on these issues via an Op-Ed … until now.

On Wednesday of last week, June 3, there was an organized event held at City Hall. The organizers had stated the purpose as follows: “We will take a knee in a period of silence to honor Mr. Floyd’s life and to re-commit ourselves to racial justice and community unity.” A very good idea where city leaders, the police chief and interfaith leaders could join community residents to demonstrate commitment to racial justice and community unity in Escondido.

Amongst the speakers was one of my City Council colleagues. My colleague began her remarks with a comment that referred to Escondido and its history of racism.

So this premise, Escondido a city with a history of racism, then became a catalyst to her nine points of reform that she wants for our City and our city Police Department. Amongst those points presented were calls for reforms to police and city hiring practices and other changes. She called for the collection and study of racial statistics in traffic stops, hiring of more women and diverse applicants in law enforcement, requirements of police to have a degree in sociology or psychology, city (citizen?) input in hiring police chiefs and captains and fewer hires with military backgrounds.

Taking these comments point by point to dismantle would take a lot of time and could be an exercise in futility. Suffice it to say that many of these reforms are based on individual sentiments and not facts or reality. As a few examples, discriminating against men and women who have served our Country in the Military by precluding them from being hired by the EPD is preposterous. Taking the authority from the City Manager for one of his most important responsibilities, hiring the Chief of Police, is foolhardy at best.

These were not only inappropriate comments at this event, but they come off as opportunistic and counterproductive for the atmosphere and purpose of the rally. And they are inappropriate as a whole as they pertain to the EPD. 

Perhaps this is a precursor to the inane cries for defunding or dismantling police departments across the land. But this Escondido! The EPD has amazing men and women of all ethnicities, backgrounds and circumstances that have dedicated their very lives to protect and serve the citizens of Escondido. I fully support our Chief of Police, Ed Varso and all of the men and women who make up this department. Chief Varso, like his predecessor Craig Carter, leads by example. He and his department have demonstrated their professionalism and, again, their dedication and we have a system that not only works, it is a system that is exemplary!

With all of the activities of this past week in Escondido, on several fronts and while under “social media” and news outlet attacks, the men and women of the EPD demonstrated how to communicate, how to participate, how to ingratiate and how to de-escalate. So many have expressed their gratitude to our City team and in particular the EPD. What we witnessed were peaceful demonstrations rife with passion for just causes of great concern and importance. All handled flawlessly by the EPD and neighboring law enforcement agencies.

 Now is not the time to fracture the service and safety provided us by our system and team of the EPD. Now is the time to continue on the cutting edge progression, education and training of all areas and personnel of the EPD. This is what they have been doing for years and will continue to do in order to optimally protect and serve all who make up the City of Escondido.

Mike Morasco can be reached for comment at

mmorasco@escondido.org.

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

21 responses to “Reform ideas based on sentiments, not facts”

  1. David Yackel says:

    Great response and spot on.

  2. Will Corwin says:

    Right on, Mike. Any reform that involves the whole community, needs to be based upon facts.

  3. Raquel says:

    Racial injustice in Escondido is not a sentiment, it’s a fact, and the EPD are just as guilty as the city council. But if you didn’t grow up in a part of Escondido where the police are constantly on patrol or setting up checkpoints leading into your neighborhood in the middle of the day, you would probably think it’s not a problem. Just because YOU haven’t been targeted by the EPD doesn’t mean racial profiling and injustice is nonexistent in Escondido.

    43% of the city’s budget should be reallocated to investing in the community, not just policing it. 43% of the city’s budget going to one department is egregious and perpetuates the sentiment Morasco wrote above: if the problem doesn’t affect me, the problem doesn’t exist.

    The people will be heard, Mike. Enough is enough.

  4. Cynthia says:

    This commentary is very accurately stated and very easy to understand as well. I appreciate the logic, ie. suggested “reforms are based on individual sentiments and not facts or reality” That’s pretty much at the heart of a lot of the confusion in the air these days! Thanks again, and I appreciate the take-away thought,”Now is not the time to fracture the service and safety provided us by our system and team of the EPD.”

  5. Amy Perez says:

    Wow, how tone def and ignorant to say systemic racism does not exist. Have you not seen or heard what community has been saying? It’s too bad you were a no show at this event you are referring too. You accepted the invitation only to cancel last minute. You weren’t there.

  6. Lisa kusick says:

    Denial is a beautiful thing😢

  7. Nicole says:

    This is not leadership, Mr. Morasco. “Taking these comments point by point to dismantle would take a lot of time and could be an exercise in futility.” It could be futile. But a leader would take the time to do the work anyway. And then propose better, rather than just pander. This is not a good look, man.

  8. Peter Welch says:

    Mr. Morasco misrepresents the comments of a fellow council person creating false straw men which he then demolishes. How very Rush Limbaugh of him.
    Lie 1–No one, any where is suggesting that all ex military be “ precluded” from employment. Reducing is not precluding.
    Lie 2–His colleague did not call for “defunding” the police nor the “dismantling” police forces, yet he brings this false narrative into this outrageously inflammatory and mendacious opinion piece.
    Lie 3–Calls for “defunding” the police by protestors are not calls to get rid of or end police functions, jobs, or department. The call is to radically restructure the function of police to reduce the difficulty of a police officer’s job. Should an armed officer be the person called to handle a mentally or emotionally disabled person? Or should a trained mental health worker be the first person called?

    Mr. Morasco knows or should know what “defund the police” means. So what is the purpose of his misrepresentation? What kind of person gins up fear to advance his own political future? Not the kind that should hold an elected office in this city or any other one.
    For more about the real meaning of what protestors mean by chants of “ defunding the police” please google John Oliver and defund the police.

    • RT says:

      It appears your comment is not entirely accurate. The opinion piece below appears in the NY Times June 12th

      Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police
      Because reform won’t happen.
      By Mariame Kaba

  9. Bill Flores says:

    Marasco writes as if the horror years of Abed and Maher never happened, and that Escondido still has done very little to change the perception that many still have and that Escondido earned during that terrible period. How many times was Escondido mentioned in statewide and national news about the openly anti-immigrant and anti-Latino ordinances they attempted to pass and the expensive lawsuits the city lost defending such outrageous acts. In fact, the author of the unlawful and divisive Rental Ban Ordinance has been promoted from City Attorney to City Manager; a poor choice in terms the appearance of continuing mistakes of the past by city leaders. And while the Escondido Police may well have “amazing men and women” as members of the department, it’s the poor, politically driven leadership – not to include Chief Varso due to his short tenure at this point – that has been the cause of the earned reputation for which this city still suffers.

  10. Thomas Miley says:

    So, here are the recommendations that Mr. Morasco says are based on sentiment. Personally, I find these recommendations to be based on a bias towards more inclusion and diversity in all community affairs and making policy decisions based on facts and data, especially when it comes to policing. Hence, the need to collect data to understand how we police in all neighborhoods in Escondido, not just District 4.

    1- Collect/study racial stop data.
    2- Hire/promote more women.
    3- Hire/promote diverse applicants.
    4 – Establish a blind screening process for applicants.
    5- Change hiring standards to require a college degree (ex. Sociology/psychology).
    6- Limit military hiring of those without college degrees to ensure departments are not filled with a war zone mentality.
    7- Require Citizen input on hiring decisions of chiefs and captains.
    8- Require officers to live in the community they serve.
    9- Require de escalation training for first responders.
    10- For ALL public employees require unconscious bias training.
    11- Establish a citizen oversight committee with a diverse selection of representatives.

  11. Chris Nava says:

    The June 12th Op-ed by Escondido Councilmember Morasco reveals someone who is in deep denial of the historical moment that is taking place in our country – the voices of “we the people” calling for police reform. Morasco is in deep denial of the history of racism in Escondido: the 2006 landlord ordinance against renting to immigrants, checkpoints, ICE embedded in EPD, etc. And, unfortunately, for a leader, he reveals an inability to meet the moment with an open mind. He mischaracterizes Councilwoman Olga Diaz’ well- researched call-to-action plan to ensure systemic changes to end police violence as inappropriate, opportunistic, and counterproductive and outside the purpose of the rally. Since he was not present at the rally how would he know that Diaz’s plan was what the organizers of the rally planned for the rally? The rally went far beyond the community coming together to grieve: it was an opportunity to open an uncomfortable conversation and to commit to working together to bring about law enforcement reform.

  12. Chris Nava says:

    The June 12th Op-ed by Escondido Councilmember Morasco reveals someone who is in deep denial of the historical moment that is taking place in our country – the voices of “we the people” calling for police reform. Morasco is in deep denial of the history of racism in Escondido: the 2006 landlord ordinance against renting to immigrants, checkpoints, ICE embedded in EPD, etc. And, unfortunately, for a leader, he reveals an inability to meet the moment with an open mind. He mischaracterizes Councilwoman Olga Diaz’s well- researched call-to-action plan to ensure systemic changes to end police violence as inappropriate, opportunistic, and counterproductive to the rally. Since he was not present at the rally how would Morasco know that Diaz’ remarks were of the essence to the spirit of the rally? The purpose of the rally was far beyond a grieving event. It was an opportunity to open an uncomfortable conversation and to commit to working together to bring about law enforcement reform.

  13. Dick Eiden says:

    The author doesn’t offer any facts, only theories and opinions about how wonderful EPD is! Fact: Historic police practices have not worked and are not working! As the rest of the country is saying, normal isn’t good enough any more! First op-ed? Try discussing ing the issues!

  14. Christine 'Chris' Nava says:

    The June 12th Op-ed by Escondido Councilmember Morasco reveals someone who is in deep denial of the historical moment that is taking place in our country – the voices of “we the people” calling for police reform. Morasco is in deep denial of the history of racism in Escondido: the 2006 landlord ordinance against renting to immigrants, checkpoints, ICE embedded in EPD, etc. And, unfortunately, for a leader, he reveals an inability to meet the moment with an open mind. He mischaracterizes Councilwoman Olga Diaz’ well- researched call-to-action plan to ensure systemic changes to end police violence as inappropriate, opportunistic, and counterproductive and outside the purpose of the rally. How would he know? He was not there. The rally was more than a coming together of the community to grieve the murder of a black man, George Floyd, at the hands of the police, It was a time to look beyond the rally and begin a conversation and to commit to working together to bring about law enforcement reform.

    EPD lives under a shadow of mistrust among minorities in Escondido. Although the situation is beginning to change under Chief Varso, there is room for reform. To refer to the calls for reform as “inane” is both myopic and does a great disservice to the community.

  15. Jorgen Barletta says:

    Comments illustrate what the author is attempting to counter. Emotional sentiment, based on past or distant history, is not current fact.. As far as I can tell, EPD is exemplary today. Why “fix” it in a wave of emotional chaos when it is not broken like some of the other PD’s across the nation? Leave your baggage at the door folks, please don’t enact changes that have little objective rationale in the here and now, just because of a fervor of sentiment coming from locations far and wide.

  16. Amanda Cormier says:

    Seeing the EPD as an exception to the rule does not acknowledge the many studies that prove the failure of policing *nationwide* as an effective way to run our communities. The individuals can be great, sure. But this completely denies the *facts* that show that investment in community building is much more effective at reducing crime and improving outcomes.

    You say that these arguments are based on sentiment but neglect to see that your own argument is pure sentiment based on “the good guys” around you. Being a leader starts with having an open mind. Try that first.

  17. Jena L says:

    Councilmember Morasco demonstrates willful ignorance in this piece. “But this is Escondido!” That statement is supposed to set us aside from everywhere else. Escondido is somehow different than the entire nation. When speaking to systemic racism and how this country was built on the backs of Black and Indigenous people, Escondido is no different.

    Simply because Councilmember Morasco trusts the police and has a good relationship with police, does not mean that other Escondido citizens have the same experience. It does not mean that EPD is deserving of 43% of the entire city budget. It does not mean that those calling for defunding, abolition, or even reform are basing their ideas off sentiment. There is plenty of historical and statistical data that supports the current dialogue.

    Has Councilmember Morasco met with his constituents regarding this issue? It is his role to represent his district and his community. For him to say that any reforms whatsoever are unnecessary is doing Escondido a disservice. We can’t improve in any way whatsoever? We can’t make Escondido any better? We’re already operating in an ideal manner? That is a denial of reality.

    While Councilmember Morasco has the right to express his opinions, this piece does nothing to help move the conversation forward. It proposes no solutions, it doesn’t even make a strong case against reforms. It does nothing for readers but show someone with their head in the sand.

  18. patricia borchmann says:

    It is sad, but interesting that Councilmember Mike Morasco’s Opinion column criticized the comments by Councilmember Olga Diaz during recent rally at City Hall as being “inappropriate, opportunistic, counterproductive and outside purpose of rally”, but I felt that the specific suggestions proposed by Olga Diaz in her ‘call to action’ are constructive, practical and useful. The Opinion title chosen by M.Morasco “Reform Ideas Based on Sentiment, Not Fact”, and his description of his colleague are disrespectful and immature. I think the rally organized to honor life of George Floyd was encouraging, and comments by EPD Chief Mike Varso that followed provided a positive connection to the community, and then the suggestions by Olga Diaz for potential police reform established an ideal starting point for future discussion, and dialogue. The proposed police reform ideas identified by Olga Diaz (below) have value, and I think they contribute to community dialogue as a starting point that deserves more serious discussion and mature debate. Stakeholders in Escondido look forward to seeing a formal Agenda item scheduled for such discussion at Escondido City Council in near future. In the meantime, readers have opportunity to become more informed, and familiar with ideas for potential police reform, to make future discussions productive and transparent.

    This is the 11-point call to action plan, proposed by City Councilmember Olga Diaz for potential police reform in Escondido:

    1- Collect/study racial stop data.
    2- Hire/promote more women.
    3- Hire/promote diverse applicants.
    4 – Establish a blind screening process for applicants.
    5- Change hiring standards to require a college degree (ex. Sociology/psychology).
    6- Limit military hiring of those without college degrees to ensure departments are not filled with a war zone mentality.
    7- Require Citizen input on hiring decisions of chiefs and captains.
    8- Require officers to live in the community they serve.
    9- Require de escalation training for first responders.
    10- For ALL public employees require unconscious bias training.
    11- Establish a citizen oversight committee with a diverse selection of representatives.

  19. Kristen says:

    It is a fact that the Escondido police department threw me on the ground in my own driveway. It is a fact that I was stopped to identify myself while walking my dog in my own neighborhood. It is a fat that when I called to report a drunk driver to the Escondido police the dispatcher became irate with me and proceeded to question me on why I was calling if I knew this person and to identify myself instead of asking for details about the driver and his vehicle. The driver by the way was swerving all over the road and had a large gas can that had spilled over in his truck and was now pouring all over the street. I actually didn’t grow up in Escondido I actually grew up in San Marcos where 26% of the budget goes to police. These things never happened when I lived in San Marcos so clearly Escondido Police Department have some issues and thats a fact! Its also clear to me sir you have no intentions on addressing the concerns of your community so why exactly are you a council member??? You’re not doing your job, and that’s another fact!

  20. Rebecca says:

    I refuse to reward Escondido Police department for simply doing their job. I refuse to believe that Escondido Police department deserves 43% of the cities budget. Your opinion is just that, an opinion. Who gives you the right to talk down on council member Diaz when she is trying to help and represent her constituents. You are ignorant. How about you get off your ass and actually do something worth our tax money! We put you in the city council and we can take you out.

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