It's time to change our approach to crime and public safety.

On two separate occasions, Washington Hospital nurses, crossing Civic Avenue, have been hit as they cross the street in crosswalks. Their lives will never be the same. Obviously, crosswalks are not safe.

Police response to a home burglary can take more than an hour. Forget about controlling gangs, the city of Fremont cannot control gang graffiti.

Red-light running is rampant on left turns. Cars are running red lights with immunity at Pacific Commons on Auto Mall Parkway.

Today, there are as many police officers on the force as there was 30 years ago, yet there are a third more residents. Even basic laws are not being enforced. This is an invitation for a disaster. Mexican drug cartels are moving into American cities.

The city of Fremont needs to put more police on the payroll or crime will increase.

City leaders will cite monetary constraints, so listen up:

A review of San Jose fire calls found only 30 percent were actually concerning fires. Is it cheaper to use paramedics rather than firemen for the 70 percent of calls? Would on-call, reserve fire fighters save money if fire cycles are seasonal? How about mutual aid with nearby cities?

Let's remove the overpaid police and fire chiefs. Why pay these men more than $210,000 a year to do administrative work? Find a qualified, retired, 50-year-old policeman/fireman with good administrative skills and the wisdom of years of experience, pay him $75,000 to sit behind a desk.


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Start paying realistic wages, and use defined contribution retirement, not the existing defined benefits.

Our community can be safer for less expense. Even a 10 percent reduction in costs could put 10 percent more police on the streets.

It is time that our elected officials respond to the safety needs of our community, and not the needs of the unions. As a union man I hate to say this; but after a bankruptcy, a reduced paycheck looks good compared with no paycheck.

Today, high pay is not a necessity to employ quality workers.

If you call for nonemergency police, odds are you will wait hours. Ask for the desk sergeant. Explain your situation. The last thing they want is a civilian solving a problem where a trained officer needs to respond. Sooner or later, the city will get the message.

And yes, police and firemen deserve the best pay we can afford. They are college graduates and have extended training. They are the people we depend on in a time of need. But we need to staff according to our needs, not what has been done historically.

It is time to enforce all laws and to be tough on crime. Time to make Fremont the city it once was -- someplace that criminals avoid.

A city where our families can live without fear.

We can increase the number of officers on the street to fight crime. We can reduce crime, it just requires holding our civic leaders accountable.

Gerald Johnson is a Fremont resident.