Increase Safety by Banning Police Cars on OFW

By Greta Cobar

Plastic bollards that lay flat on the ground when a car touches them will not stop anyone determined to drive down Ocean Front Walk. Several such bollards that have been installed following the August 3 incident, which resulted in one death and sixteen injuries, have already been broken and removed. The others have become nothing but a major eye-sore.

Mike Bonin, our new councilperson, is responsible for the bollards that materialized on OFW days after Alice Gruppioni, a 32-year old Italian tourist on her honeymoon, was run over and killed on OFW.

Expanded and improved surveillance camera systems on OFW could not have prevented the tragedy that took place August 3 any more than the current (and missing) bollards would have. Yet that is what Bonin’s motion before City Council is asking for.

The current situation on OFW is a microcosm of what has been going on nation-wide for quite some time. It’s been under the pretense of an attack (that our government has been blaming on some group of terrorists) that government surveillance was started and further propagated. And they are about to amplify the spying in our back yard, OFW, again under some false safety pretense.

Pretense is how it gets done – chemical weapons in Syria much like weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and us having to go through the invasive inconvenience of taking our shoes off at the airport as a result.

As we seat quietly while they barricade the beach, remember that Nathan Campbell, who drove down OFW like a maniac trying to hit people, entered on Dudley. Cars cannot enter OFW by driving down Dudley because of metal barricades that have been in place for years. Campbell drove onto the sidewalk on Dudley. If permanent metal barricades were not able to stop him, do we put our hopes into bendable plastic ones?

Campbell, 38, turned himself in hours after the August 3 incident, at which time he failed a field sobriety test. It is unknown at this time if it was alcohol and/or drugs that he tested positive for. He has since pleaded not guilty to one count of murder, 16 counts of assault with a deadly weapon and 17 counts of hit-and-run, and is being held on $1.48 million bail.

Car traffic cannot be blocked off OFW because of trash pick-up and emergency police, paramedics and firefighters. Most of us don’t witness the early hour trash pick-up, but pretty much as often as we are out there we see police and fire vehicles parading up and down OFW for reasons other than emergencies. “Oh, the police car is coming, get off the bike.” “Oh, wait till they leave to light up.” That is their effectiveness summed up.

A quick internet search yields hundreds of results for police cars running over people on boardwalks such as ours or while sunbathing. In May 2010 a Long Beach man was run over while he was sunbathing. Within days county detectives completed their investigation and the officer was cleared of any criminal conduct. Similarly, in February 2003 a French tourist was run over and killed by a Miami Beach police officer. And in December 2012 the safety chief ran over a sunbather in Hollywood Beach, Florida, and was back on the job the next day.

Just hours after the tragedy that happened here in Venice on August 3 blogs were calling the incident an act of terrorism. According to an August 7 Washington Post blog, “you are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist.” So why don’t we address that issue, instead? Why do the police drive up and down the beach and OFW all day long while not “serving” the public? Consider an August 9 ONION headline while pondering the answer to the last question: “Insecure, Frustrated Bully With Something to Prove Considering Career in Law Enforcement.”

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