Jose F. Moreno: Anaheim’s Current Police Spending Will “Create A Police State”

During the city council’s mid-year budget review on February 27, District 3 Councilman Jose F. Moreno expressed his feeling that continuation of current police spending levels will turn Anaheim “into a police state.”

“If we keep investing just in police and fire – really, police – we’re really creating a police state, and I don’t wanna do that. I don’t want to create a police state city.”


Why would Moreno even use such an inflammatory term? It suggests both paranoia and ignorance of the nature of a police state.

Anaheim has 399 sworn police officers, is budgeted for 408 and is expecting five retirements in the near future. Given Anaheim’s population of 358,000, that’s approximately one police officer for every 1,000 residents. Even with every budgeted position filled, that is hardly a police state.

The world has more than its share of real-life police states.

Iran.

Cuba.

Venezuela.

North Korea.

China.

Those are police states.

Anaheim with 408 police officers, governed by free and fair elections? Hardly a police state.

Redefining Public Safety

During the same monologue, Moreno laid out a different definition of “public safety”

“It seems two out of three dollars goes to public safety and we envision public safety as being police and fire, and I’d like for us to think of a different paradigm of public safety which is more holistic. I’m concerned that more than half of our budget goes to our police department – which is very well deserved and needed – and we keep feeding the public’s imagination that we only get safety by having police officers and badges – and we really get safety by investments in neighborhoods, youth development programs, family development programs, and programming initiatives that really keep our city moving…”

Moreno’s concern about the portion of the budget devoted to police and fire, but that is largely a function of the growing pension burden – a problem that isn’t confined to public safety personnel. Moreno’s credibility on this is strained given his silence on the pension issue and his desire to end contracting out and increase the city’s payroll.

His suggestion of creating a new “paradigm” for public safety by including community services programs under that definition is problematic. His claim that the public believes safety is purely a function of more police is a red herring. The types of programs he cites can help on the margins of public safety, but should not be viewed as public safety programs. That would be politically helpful for progressive politicians by allowing them to posture as supporting more “resources for public safety” while opposing actual public safety policies like hiring more police officers.

This is not to say crime can only be addressed via law enforcement, but reducing and fatherlessness in families and out-of-wedlock births would yield a greater impact in terms of reducing juvenile delinquency and crime. But effective action in these areas lies more in the moral realm of churches and civic groups, and doesn’t necessarily lend itself to city programming. Mayor Tait’s emphasis on fostering “neighborhood resiliency” is an exception to the extent it encourages neighbors to better know each other and look out for each other.  Policing, however, is a fundamental municipal function, and the means by which cities can have their biggest impact on public safety. Redefining public safety along the lines suggested by Moreno creates confusion and blurs accountability.

It’s also a timeless expression of progressive intellectual hubris. Liberal thinkers and policy-makers in the early 1960s were utterly confident the anti-poverty programs of the Great Society would eradicate poverty, dramatically reducing crime and juvenile delinquency along with it.  Instead, the heretofore decline in poverty was arrested, while crime and delinquency grew dramatically.  Historians and social scientists can wrangle over the relative mix of causation or correlation, but its clearly the positive results confidently predicted by the progressive thinkers of that era never materialized.  There’s no reason to think the policy insights of their latter-day intellectual heirs are any better.

12 comments

  1. Poor choice of words and I wish he would change those words. However, his point is valid regarding spending on the community. I also wish that he would acknowledge that some of his constituents need to take pride in their community and stop graffiti, gang members and dead beat parents. A City or community can only provide so much. It is up to the neighborhoods to show respect for their area. Police presence is needed and support for the police dept and the police dept for the community needs to be a two way street. Pensions decisions were a poorly thought out position and is a huge issue, however that is not the issue in the case.

    Bad choice of words but a valid point. I know Jose is a punching bag for this blog and he deserves most of it. Not necessarily this time. Jpse, watch what you say, there are consequences and Police State does bring bad connotations.

  2. A city government that is controlled by the police union, and where the employees of the department can do virtually anything they want with impunity sounds a whole lot like a police state.

  3. Not a Moreno fan

    Mathew Cunningham:
    YOU ARE RIGHT

    Everything Jose does is WRONG
    and for his own political agenda. Worst person in council.
    Just look at his history.

  4. More police would not make Anaheim a police state. In fact, the charge is an abuse of language.

    Like the author says, if Anaheim is a police state, what should we say about North Korea? Iran? Saudi Arabia? The English language would have no word for those.

    I know someone who lived in a police state. It is one where the slightest slip of the tongue will get you arrested; where you friends and co-workers disappear without a trace; where there is no free press; where the government uses the media as a gigantic propaganda machine and persecutes dissenters with phony charges brought before a compliant judiciary. And the list could go on and on. Does that sound like Anaheim?

    Anaheim is a haven for freedom. We have a gay pride flag flying on the side of our building. When an unarmed citizen gets shot by the police our Mayor calls for an independent investigation by the Attorney General and does not allow an internal investigation by its own police force. We have district elections voted on by the people. Citizens can approach the mic at a city council meeting and for 3 minutes say anything they want, and some do. We have programs in place for the poor and homeless. All the good work Anaheim has done and might do is ruined when we add that Anaheim has the potential of becoming a police state.

    To say Anaheim does not have some issues well all cities do but police states are the worst of the worst. To place Anaheim in that category is rhetoric.

    So, while we should all oppose practices that violate the rights of Anaheim citizens, we should also keep a sense of perspective of the city we live in that is based in realty.

  5. this is the same person who wanted to let the homeless stay by anaheim staduim he must have never tour there when they clean it up they found14000 needles oh there no trouble down there he knew of the problems down there your a jerk for that not 1400 hundred 14 thousand what mess no wonder he didnt in his neigborhood we need he is a left wing jerk we need to get mr moreno out of office please vote him out

    • Ken Hutton:TOTALLY AGREE GET MORENO OUT. He is the opposite of what Anaheim needs. He is not a representative of the people of Anaheim, all the people. Rather, he is a reprentative if his own agenda, and his posse. It is disgusting to watch them promote each other or lobby for each others agendas. He is so arrogant that he thinks we will buy what he is selling, sadly some do.

      If you compare Anaheim’s size to other cities of the same size, Anaheim is understaffed. Anaheim is so understaffed that they can do get to many calls in a timely manner and the criminals know this. Talk to an officer, their morale is down and one reason is being understaffed. The police need to be able to do their jobs. If they are enabled to enforce our laws maybe more would respect them.

      This is not just an Anaheim issue, it is a State of California issue as well.

  6. Moreno probably wants more unicorns and rainbows. His ideas are naive and and based on failed progressive policies. Vote Moreno out in November!

  7. It is depressing but given Jose Moreno’s previous remarks, not surprising he brings up a police state city. He has a one track mine that suggests he doesn’t support APD and apparently doesn’t know what a police state means? Odd, given he holds a Ph.D., in Administration. Let’s call Jose Moreno’s comments what they suggest, a glaring socialist. In such a great city how did a man like him find his way onto City Council? Even more perplexing get support to move his career forward from a rumored Republican Mayor? That’s a WOW. I am a Constitutional “Reagan” Republican, and there’s no way. Our Anaheim City leadership needs a house cleaning of masquerading politicians.

    Though Moreno’s wish regarding areas of focus has the kind of merit we all dream was possible, reasonable people know it’s idealistic, especially in a high gang and crime busy city. Leadership cannot govern through idealism, much less enforce laws. Everything Moreno speaks of comes off as extreme, as opposed to moderate, where good judgment, budgeting, and P&L exist.

    Moreno makes a statement regarding where safety comes from as if support in those areas doesn’t already exist. If Anaheim city gets engaged with social programs, it should only be as a supportive source. The real investment of manpower and funding for youth development programs comes from citizens and organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club, and local churches target family development programs. Whether tapped or not, other sponsors are small business owners and significant business leaders.

    Anaheim City leadership fiduciary responsibility to citizens is not to create, fund and manage all social aspects of the city’s progress. City leadership takes care of city business and infrastructure problems. And investments in any form made by the City must coexist within the city’s budget, and appropriately prioritized knowing Anaheim’s Police and Fire Department are among top priorities. Citizens feel safe at home and on streets because they know Law Enforcement and Fire Departments are there to protect and serve; that can only happen if they have the funding to do their job. If citizens don’t trust APD with its excellent record, we need to look carefully at who citizens are listening to and address their real agenda. See John “JMAC” Machiaverna for Anaheim Mayor.

  8. Dr. Moreno saying we are creating a police state in the city by increasing the budget, while I see my neighbors packages being stolen off their porches, their cars being broken and stolen, street racing in the neighborhood, homeless setting up camps in the parks, gangs getting stronger in the area, and selling more drugs, and so much more.

    If we had a true police state, there would be no homeless, they would either me locked up, escorted out of town at gunpoint, or worse. Nobody would be stealing, as they would be severely punished.

    From the CSULB staff listing…

    Dr. Moreno’s area of emphasis is Latino/a Education and Policy Studies. Born in Guasave, Sinaloa, Mexico and raised in Oxnard, Ca, he received his B.A. in Social Ecology from the University of California, Irvine; Ed.M. from Harvard University; and Ed.D. from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy.

    He should know what words mean, and based on his comments at city council meetings, he demands it from others. He needs to publically apologize for his very bad choice of words, and for the safety and protection of its residents, strongly support a reasonable budget increase for Police Officers to help cut down on the current crime issues in the city.

  9. Gary you said it best. Whether Moreno said anything smart here (police state not exactly) His points are almost valid. As you said and I agree, cities have the responsibility to protect their citizens. They are not responsible for the care of families, or any of the other stuff. However, what is still being forgotten are the citizens of the city. What exactly are they responsible for? They seem to forget the fact that they are responsible for the actions of their children and family members. Let them look in a mirror and if they can honestly say they are doing their best, support should be there. However….

  10. Overtime should be almost eliminated. Spending $100 an hour to put a cop on the street is ridiculously high.

  11. Tait and Moreno are at it again. There are currently recruitment processes for the city manager and police chief positions. The CM is ahead of the COP because the newly selected city manager should pick the next chief of police. Rumor is interim city manager Linda Andal will select the chief. Why is the city council suddenly in hurry to fill interim positions. HR director and city attorney have gone unfilled for two years. I suspect corruption and favortism. Tait and Moreno are trying to use their lackey to saddle the city with some under qualified progressive yahoo. The newly seated city manager should pick the new chief not some glorified clerk who is keeping the seat warm.

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