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Police Should Deploy 'Verbal Judo' Before Physical Force, Says New Chief

Coronado Police Chief Jon Froomin fielded questions about gun rights, why "meter maids" are armed with batons and Tasers, bicycles and several other topics at a meet and greet Friday.

To get to know the city he is sworn to protect and serve, and learn what the public thinks about its police department and local crime, Coronado's police chief held meet and greets in the Coronado Cays, the Village and near the Ferry Landing on Friday.

Gun rights, armed private security and parking tickets were among the topics discussed during a get-together at Calypso Cafe in the Coronado Cays that attracted 15 people.

Some said the police should patrol in the Cays more often and voiced support for senior volunteers. Others talked about run-ins with officers who they felt were less than civil. 

Officers should be respectful to members of the public until they give officers a reason not to be, Chief Jon Froomin said.

Some demands, like telling people to stay in their cars during a traffic stop, are to keep the public and the officer safe, but complaints are taken seriously, he said.

When a complaint is received, the chief said, he sits down with the officer to go over the discuss the grievance.

"And I don't ask them to defend themselves or respond in any way, because I know what the answer will be: I didn't do it," he said. 

Review of complaints can help an officer better understand how to speak with the public and improve the police department's relationship with the community, he said.

Froomin was sworn in as the chief the Coronado Police Department on May 21. 

He came to Coronado by way of Foster City, CA. He oversees a staff of 87, including about 40 sworn officers, and manages a $9 million budget. He replaced Louis Scanlon, who retired after six years in Coronado.

On Friday, one person asked why meter maids are armed with batons and Tasers.

In his 30-year career, Froomin said, some of the most aggressive people he came in contact with were those who were issued parking tickets. 

"People get more upset over a $25 parking ticket than they do over a citation that's going to cost them $300-$400," he said. 

Officers who patrol Coronado and those who write tickets have to be able to defend themselves when people get physical, but they also need to practice "verbal judo" and know how to talk their way out of situations, he said.

The need for Police Service Officers who issue tickets to defend themselves at times is real, Froomin said. 

"We had a situation late last week where we arrested a person for assault with a deadly weapon for trying to run over a meter maid," he said.

The predominant issue discussed at the meet and greet in the Village earlier in the day was vehicle traffic and noise, Froomin said.

Perhaps more than any other topic, bicyclists garnered the most complaints from Coronado Cays residents. The Bayshore Bikeway crosses in front of the Cays' only entrance and exit.

"The bicyclists tend not to stop at stop signs," Froomin said. "The difficulty car drivers have with bicyclists most of the time is that they don't obey the laws, but they want the cars to obey and respect them."

When asked, Froomin said he did not know how many tickets the city gives to bicyclists each year.

"I would venture to guess that it's not enough," he said.

City staff were unable to provide Coronado Patch with parking ticket data by the time this story was published.

Enough tickets need to be issued that people are afraid they will get a ticket if they do something wrong, Froomin said.

"You need enough to make people think twice, to have a deterrent effect. Too few and people aren't concerned and too many it's overkill," he said.

But no matter who has the right-of-way, Froomin stressed the need for bicyclists and motorists to watch out for each other. 

"As much as you may not be at fault in a collision, having to live with the fact that someone involved in a collision was hurt or killed is something you will have to live with the rest of your life. It's not worth it," he said.

Most of the time the Cays are "Mayberry by the sea," one meet and greet attendee said, but armed private security and immigrants attempting to enter the country illegally from Mexico do make some people concerned. 

Froomin said he's still learning about "international relations," but if residents feel concerned or see something suspicious they should call the police.

One person raised concerns about the number of former military in the area with guns.

"I'm not touching gun rights," Froomin said.

Multiple Cays residents said they rarely see the Coronado Police Department on patrol in the area and asked Froomin to make sure the CPD patrols the area at least once a day, a request the chief said he thinks the CPD can fulfill. 

Shirley Alexander, who has lived in Coronado for three decades, said she appreciated the opportunity to meet the new police chief and found the discussion interesting. 

"He seemed very forthright," Alexander said. 

She agreed that the police should patrol in the Cays more often. 

"I just think there's not enough police presence in the Cays. We're not asking for much," she said.

Mary Margaret Swanson came to the meeting with her mother Margaret Swanson. She also said she appreciated that the chief has his ear to the public and that he took time away from his daily duties to hear the concerns of citizens in Coronado's different neighborhoods.

Mary Margaret Swanson said she would like to hear more often about training officers receive and their activity in the community. 

"It would help people feel more connected and could make them appear more human," she said.

If groups in the community would like to meet with Chief Froomin call Lea Corbin at 619-522-7370.

A town hall meeting led by by Chief Froomin to discuss crime prevention will be held at the library Tuesday.

What do you think the Coronado Police Department does well? What can the CPD do to improve its relationship with the community or better combat crime? Share in comments.

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