Guest Editorial by David Cruz, LULAC Council
October 31, 2019
Scott Whitney, Police Chief
City of Oxnard, CA
251 S C St., Oxnard, CA 93030
VIA email to [email protected]
RE: School Crossing Guards
Dear Chief Whitney,
On Monday, October 28, 2019, the Ventura County Executive Board of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) voted to authorize moving forward on the matter of public safety in school crosswalks affecting tens of thousands of Latino children and their family members. I am writing to address the troubling appearance of conflict within your senior staff.
Alex Vazquez was killed on September 30, 2019 as he walked to Cesar Chavez Elementary School. He was crossing the street at a legal crosswalk in La Colonia, one of the city’s poorest Latino neighborhoods. There was no crossing guard. When asked why Oxnard does not have more crossing guards, Assistant Chief of Police Eric Sonstegard, told the VC Reporter i , “We want more police officers, more crossing guards. The question is, how are you going to pay for it?”
Yet, Chief Sonstegard’s own $391,390.85 salary and benefits package for 2018 tops the list as the highest paid public employee in Oxnard, according to Transparent California ii on public employee pay statewide. Close behind is the $301,057.32 paid to Oxnard Police Commander Denise Shadinger, who runs the traffic division in charge of how your department decides whether a crosswalk merits greater safety. “It has to meet certain criteria for assignment of a crossing guard,” she is quoted as saying in the same article cited above.
Then there’s Police Commander Eduardo Miranda’s $313,146.79 pay package even as he told Oxnard School District Trustees in May, 2018 they would get “increased access for rapid response” if they paid $1.2 million for school resource officers. Trustee O’Leary states OSD could pay for 22 more crossing guards with that money.
I fully support law enforcement and understand your pay is negotiated with the City of Oxnard. However, it is difficult for our community to reconcile that with the statements of your staff in light of the facts. I ask that you address this public safety issue with urgency before another child is injured or killed.
David V. Cruz, President
LULAC Council #3026
Cc: Oxnard City Council