I was disappointed but not surprised by Santa Clarita’s “woke” Mayor Cameron Smyth and the city’s rush to judgment over the recent incident involving Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s deputies and three youths at the corner of Soledad and Whites Canyon. According to Smyth, he found the deputies’ actions “concerning.” Although not all of the facts are known, it would appear that deputies were responding to a call of a felony assault (where a weapon, possibly a knife, is involved).
Additionally, one of the calls placed by a bystander was also reported to have said two (teenagers) were attacking a homeless man. Given that set of circumstances, the responding officers had all of the probable cause they needed to pull their weapons. Furthermore, their training in the police academy teaches them on a man-with-a-knife call, you pull your gun, not another knife, baton, taser, or pepper spray, until further investigation and the threat to the public and to the officers is resolved.
Use of force is well-articulated in the California Penal Code. It should have already been clearly understood by Smyth and city staff. If not, they should have researched it before their hasty call to suspend one of the responding deputies. Were the incident’s optics to the general lay public bad? Possibly, but they are certainly within the use of force policies and guidelines of law enforcement.
As for the lay public’s criticism as to how the call was handled and the spontaneous protests from local Black Lives Matter supporters who thought the deputies’ response was an overreaction and “racist,” I would encourage them, as well as Smyth and city staff, to spend three or four minutes to visit YouTube and watch a video on the threat a suspect with a knife poses to responding officers. It’s easy, just type in “Knife vs. Gun, the 21-Foot Rule.” Smyth and city staff may also want to further their education by contacting the Sheriff’s Department and ask to participate in “situational awareness” training where they are issued fake guns and must respond to various video scenarios that are projected on a large, life-size screen, to assess how difficult it is to process a threat situation, literally in milliseconds.
The recent actions of Smyth, city staff, as well as the informal “social justice” meetings that were recently hosted by Smyth and Mayor Pro Tem Bill Miranda, will do nothing but to further fan the flames of racial division in Santa Clarita that are, in my opinion, an overreaction, and will only deter our local deputies from keeping us all safe going forward.
City Council elections are coming up in November. I would encourage all SCV voters to vote for candidates who place our safety and the safety of our deputies ahead of “wokeness” and voter pandering.