Quality of Life Survey (Reality of the Streets)

Back to my patrol days of driving a black & white “Uber via 911 ride” on the very mean streets of Santa Ana, California in the early ’80s; I learned a very important lesson:  “Never assume that the local political/police powers actually know what really matters to their constituents”.

More to the point, the “quality of life issues“ perceived through the eyes of the denizens of the barrio are definitely 180 degrees misconstrued and blurred from the partisan political folks at city hall and most definitely from the “paper-pushers” within the police department headquarters (commonly termed by us “real street-crime-fighting-cop-knuckle-draggers” as “Fort Fumble” or “The Puzzle Palace”.

Case in point to aptly illustrate Gumshoe’s point.

There is an annual Uniform Crime Reporting System (UCR) in which the FBI guys and girls compile the list of specific crimes that are submitted to them by the local, county, and state law enforcement agencies from across the nation.

The UCR lists the most serious crimes as Part One that include Criminal Homicide, Forcible Rape, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Larceny-theft, Motor vehicle theft, and Arson. (These crimes can ruin your day!)

All other criminal offenses are deemed Part Two.

All of you can readily discern that Part One crimes are very serious felony offenses that can lead to prison, and in specific instances, the death penalty (After an eternity of ACLU appeals, that is.)

Okay, now that all of you kind readers have the basic understanding of the Part One crime per the UCR; Gumshoe will now come back to my “real-life“ account narrative from the SAPD and its mission to “Protect and Serve”.

Reader’s Note:  After the “Rodney King” riots the unofficial mission was to “Smile and Wave”; but that’s another story my friends for another time.)

The police “talking heads” (safely protected and incapsulated from the  “scary streets”, within their plush offices at HQ) had a “head-shed“ meeting and later exclaimed:  “We have trouble here in River City!” (Refer to the “Music Man“ for reference)

The number of Part One crimes (in all categories) in Santa Ana was “off the charts” (they always were and even as of today don’t cha know?). The “talking heads” were puzzled about what to do to lower these horrendous numbers other than “to pave-over paradise of the Golden City (motto) Santa Ana, and put up a parking lot.”  (Refer to the song lyrics of “Yellow Taxi”) Finally, they decided to “punt” and put a citizen “quality of life” survey on the back of the monthly utility bills.  Sort of “prioritize” what crimes should be strongly “policed”.

Surely they entertained a lonely single thought in their collected empty heads that the citizens of Santa Ana would list gang-related homicides; gang drive-by shootings, the open-air drug sales, the armed robberies, the armed home invasions as well as the forcible rapes and serious physical assaults that denigrated the “quality life issues” as the crime-fighting targets.

WRONG!  Pitiably wrong!

The number one issue was graffiti, followed by illegal parking and loud music.

Sad but true; egads Batman!  Great Cesar’s Ghost! Exclaimed Perry White of the Daily Planet (Superman Comics)

It seems that the Santa Ana households just accepted or had grown accustomed to the everyday violence and mayhem through the years. “Vida es Barreto” (Life is cheap) is the common saying inside the barrio.

Maybe they listed these minor crimes as opposed to the major crimes simply because they personally impacted their own street?

Maybe it was the nightly television broadcasted “Eye Witness News” crimes of blood and gore that only happened to other people, strangers, and not to their immediate family or friends? (Until it does)

This Gumshoe only knows that people get the type of government and police that they deserve.  Us “blue suiters” were directed and paid to “pick-up” the pieces.  The police administrators created graffiti details, parking enforcement units, as well as an emphasis dispatch on loud music calls.

Problem solved, let’s move on, there is nothing to see here folks!

“Quality of Life” issues are mercurial on the real streets of the barrio mi amigos!  Part One crimes be damned.

Until next time folks, Gumshoe implores all of “you uns” to love the ones who love you and to especially try to love those who don’t.

Coram Deo


Danny Pitocco
Danny Pitocco
RETIRED (as a Detective with the Snohomish County Sherriff’s Department, Washington State), Danny has over forty years of law enforcement experience across city, county, state and federal levels of government, including service as a Special Agent for the DEA, US Department of Justice. He’s a decorated law enforcement veteran, and recipient of the "Detective of the Year" award for Snohomish County, Danny is a certified composite artist and has testified as an expert witness in the field of narcotics and modus operandi of particular crimes in state and federal courts in California, and has given testimony before federal grand juries. Danny served four years of active duty in the US Marine Corps and loves Jesus as his personal savior.

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  1. Great article Dan The rioting, looting, burning and destroying of businesses last summer were peaceful demonstrations according to the talking heads.

    When I was on the job we had a saying that went like this: “Liberals become conservatives only when crime or violence comes to their doorstep”.

    Washington still has barbed wire surrounding the Capitol and the violence still continues in our major cities. Chicago had 14 shot last weekend with 4 dead so go figure. Unfortunately it has always been up to the “Men in Blue” to go out and keep the peace and oh by the way make sure not to hurt the criminals. Thanks again for your insight.

    • Thanks Tom for your “on the job” insight. I always found it to be a “puzzlement” that us guys and gals on the streets as well as us guys and gals working detectives always had a better handle on reality than the bosses.
      You might enjoy my past missive about the “Three Monkeys” Tom. Best to you and yours my friend.

  2. Another reality check and a look into the current norm for those who think nothing of the crimes committed as they have all the power to protect their own and could care less what’s happening to our cities and America, PERIOD,,, keep the articles coming

  3. Your analysis is “spot on” Ken. I guess the recent flurry of Execute Orders by Biden caused me think of how out of touch he is with us common folk—just like the folks I articulated in my diatribe.

    Thanks again my friend for your wise perspective.

  4. The conditions you relate re. Santa Ana in the 1980 era can be added to Chicago, Detroit, NYC, Seattle, Portland, and dozens of other cities, large and small. What is the scariest aspect is that, as in Santa Ana, we the populace seem to have grown accustomed to that class one violence and simply accept it as the new norm. As to the talking heads, be they in the police station or the state house or the city hall I think the problem is that they have no “skin in the game”. If elected they have their power base in place for money to buy votes, or if appointed they have only to support those that are elected. Their homes are walled with security in place (think Polosi), so the violence is not a personal threat.