City Attorney Tells Locals 'Lock Doors and Load Guns' as Police Cuts Bite

Saturday, 01 Dec 2012 09:30 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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A California city attorney is defending himself for warning residents to arm themselves because his city is bankrupt and slashing public safety budgets.

“You should say what you mean and mean what you say,” San Bernardino City Attorney Jim Penman told CBS News 2 in Los Angeles. He explained that people in the community are afraid, and 150 of them came to a council meeting to voice concerns about crimes, including an elderly woman’s murder.

It was at that meeting that Penman said residents should "lock your doors and load your guns."

The city of 210,000 residents has cut about 80 police officers, and compaints are rising about the department’s response time. The city has had 45 murders this year, a 50 percent increase over last year.

“We don’t have enough police officers. We have too many criminals living in this city,” Penman said, noting people need to be smart about protecting themselves and their families. He cautioned people with children at home not to have a loaded gun in the house.

Meanwhile, San Bernardino should remain under court protection from creditors because a new budget shows it’s making progress, officials said in court papers filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Riverside, Calif.

The California Public Employees Retirement System (Calpers) is urging the federal judge to throw out the city’s bankruptcy, because the city hasn’t filed plans about how it will pay its bills while under court protection, and it wants to wants to sue San Bernardino over missed pension payments. If the court grants Calpers’ request, the agency can sue the city to seize property or find another ay to collect the debt.

San Bernardino in August became the third California city to file bankruptcy in less than three months. It sought protection because of a $46 million budget shortfall that forced it to stop paying some creditors.

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