Notes from special DCAC meeting regarding the home invasion and Adobe Falls

Notes from the special DCAC meeting held on June 23 regarding the home invasion in Del Cerro

Chairman of DCAC, Mark Rawlins opened the meeting with an overflow audience in the Synagogue. He thanked everyone for attending and stated “we hope to receive some clarification this evening and a path to a solution.” He introduced Councilmember Scott Sherman who stated “I share your concern and tonight we want to hear from you and receive information from the representatives from the city’s and SDSU’s police departments. (SDSU administration was invited, but declined.) We have key members of the San Diego Police Department attending tonight in addition to the Chief of Police for SDSU and the Community Relations Manager for SDSU.

(Note) – In the spring of 2015 I met Elliot Hirshman, the President of SDSU, at a meet and greet for him in Del Cerro. He stressed his interest in developing a strong relationship with Del Cerro. A month after meeting President Hirshman, I contacted his office and requested a meeting that would include DCAC board members, the council member’s office, and residents regarding Adobe Falls. I was informed by Megan Collins, his Chief-of-Staff, that they did not believe this was an appropriate time to to meet with community members and that the SDSU administration would be meeting with the Councilmember.

At the time I submitted this article, Liz from Councilmember Sherman’s staff had informed me a meeting had been scheduled with the SDSU administration.

Councilmember Sherman introduced Captain Bernie Colon who heads up the City of San Diego Police Department’s Eastern Division. Captain Colon expressed his condolences to the family for their loss and emphasized the impact a crime of this type has on the police officers. He stressed that his division works closely with SDSU’s police department. “The city has the responsibility of the streets and residents, and SDSU is responsible for their 30+ acres that includes a major portion of Adobe Falls.” (CalTrans is responsible for a portion of Adobe Falls. I have requested a map of the entire Adobe Fall area and it will be posted on the delcerroactioncouncil.org website as soon as it is available.)

Captain Colon stressed the importance of community members contacting the police department when they see something that does not look right. “If it is not an emergency, call the business office at 619.531.2000 and 911 if it is an emergency. This was a good example. Neighbors called 911 and two off-duty police officers responded immediately; their actions most likely saved the life of the second victim. The police department has taken steps to decrease greatly the waiting time when dialing the business office. Neighborhood Watch works and Community Relations Officer for Eastern Division, John Steffen, will help you establish your Neighborhood Watch.” He introduced CRO John Steffen who grew up in Del Cerro. His phone number is 858.495.7971 and his email is JMSteffen@pd.sandiego.gov.

Captain Colon introduced the head of the Homicide Division, Captain Dave Nisleit. He stated that because of the on-going investigation, there is little he can say at this time so as not to contaminate the case. He did say the suspect is in custody and he is quite confident the suspect was not a transient from the Adobe Falls area.

Captain Colon introduced the 12 officers present including Assistant Police Chief Todd Jarvis, and SDSU Police Chief Joshua Mays.

Chief Mays reiterated the cooperation between his department and Captain Colon and his officers. “You will see more SDSU officers in the area during the summer because school is out and we can devote more time to the area. My staff is not large and we serve the entire campus 7/24.

Nicole Borunda, the Community Relations Manager for SDSU also spoke. One concern is the storm drain tunnel that runs from the SDSU side under I-8 and comes out at Adobe Falls. The initial plan was to block the entrance, but because of the potential buildup of debris during a storm, the tunnel cannot be secured in any fashion. Nicole also stated she is working with the neighbors adjacent to Adobe Falls and with the property owners adjacent to the south end of Millpeak to close off that area with a fence. Her contact information is: Phone: 619.594.2078 and her email is: nborunda@mail.sdsu.edu

The Lt. for Eastern Division who oversees the Navajo Area, referenced the Quality of Life squad that was formed specifically to deal with problems such as the homeless in Del Cerro.

Virtually every one of the more than 200 people attending the meeting reiterated concern for the lack of action, particularly by SDSU. Hopefully, the meeting scheduled between Councilmember Sherman and the SDSU administration will answer some of these questions and we can move forward with long-term resolutions. One possibility is that SDSU could transfer ownership of their Adobe Falls property to the city, which in turn could develop the area as an open space park with trails, creating a much safer environment.

As the result of a suggestion at the meeting, DCAC Chair Mark Rawlins, has created a petition which you can download from our website delcaerroactioncouncil.org, supporting the SDSU property at Adobe Falls be transferred to the City of San Diego.

DCAC meets on Thursday, July 28 at 7 p.m. at Temple Emanu-El. The DCAC board is expecting a positive update from SDSU, Councilmember Scott Sherman’s office and from our police department.

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