San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos, businessman and Victor Valley College Trustee Joseph W. Brady and the Daily Press announced Tuesday they plan to co-sponsor an upcoming community meeting to address the violent crime problem in the High Desert.
Ramos reached out to Daily Press Editor Steve Hunt on Monday afternoon after reading Brady's Sunday op-ed column about the increase in violent crime locally and Hunt's column asking if anyone would respond to Brady's call for a meeting. He told Hunt he absolutely wanted to respond and be part of such a meeting.
"I'm hearing it not only in the High Desert but all over the county," Ramos said of the increase in violent crime. "I think it's time to sit down and come up with solutions. We need a frank discussion. I have an uncle and aunt who have lived in Victorville for 30 years and they're tired of it."
"I am pleased that San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos has proposed to be a part of the solution," Brady said. "I have spent time with him at his office and had many conversations with him, as I have with Sheriff John McMahon. They understand the root of the problem. What we need to do as a region is get all of our elected officials to help facilitate open conversation that our residents and businesses can participate in.
"This issue, if not dealt with now, aggressively will define our future and will have a devastating impact on the residential and commercial real estate industries, the construction industries and many industries that have been the backbone of our region for the last 50-plus years."
The date, time and location of the meeting have yet to be determined. Hunt said the Daily Press will provide more information as it becomes available, both in print and online.
"The Daily Press is delighted to be part of this effort to find solutions to this problem," Hunt said. "I applaud Mr. Brady for recognizing the need for such a meeting and District Attorney Mike Ramos for being the first to commit to participating."
At Ramos' suggestion, the meeting likely will be held on a Friday afternoon so that Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, State Senator Scott Wilk and perhaps even Rep. Paul Cook could be invited, along with San Bernardino County Supervisor Robert Lovingood, Sheriff John McMahon and various city and community leaders.
Ramos also committed to making sure there will be resources at the meeting for victims of crime, "not just talking heads."
"Tell the world," Ramos said of the meeting, "because I want everybody there who lives in that community. We need some solutions."
"When you look at the posted comments (to his op-ed) people are tired of what the High Desert region has become," he said. "I hear the issue all the time from friends, fellow business associates, those that have moved and those that are moving from our region. While there are those that want us to believe that crime is going down, it is not. This is not an issue we can hide from any more. It is now at our doorstep.
"The ultimate challenge for the region is understanding that industrial business and site locators, new potential residents, all look at crime statistics when looking to locate to an area. Crime statistics are as important as education numbers are and if we have good school district or just average ones. While the High Desert region has begun to recover from the October 2008 economic meltdown, the rise in crime has clearly impeded us from competing with other Southern California communities whose economies have now surpassed the prosperity we all saw at the height off the market in late 2006 and early 2007."