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What they're saying: Pastor Marty

Pastor Marty Lynch Kaolelopono was among citizens who spoke about the need for for safer conditions in town at the Jan. 22 Selma City Council meeting.

SELMA – Selma residents weighed in everything from crime to beautification to police profiling during a goal-setting session at the Jan. 22 Selma City Council meeting. Here are some of their comments:

  • Joan Nelson lives in Selma but has moved her business to Kingsburg: “Life has gotten worse in Selma. There’s a huge difference [between Selma and Kingsburg]. They have pride in their city. They have a Downtown that’s thriving with new businesses and restaurants. There’s a much safer feeling working in Kingsburg. I’m not saying they don’t have problems, but it’s far less than Selma. I can leave my place of business any time of the day or evening and not worry about the tweakers walking down the street.”
  • Paula Rogers proposed that gang injunctions be put in place to combat that criminal activity: “We deserve safety. You’re not going to get economic development or the issues with blight taken away if you don’t address public safety. I’ve heard [gang injunctions] are not cost effective, and that we don’t have enough money. We’re worth the money. We need to protect our youth. They’re turning to gangs because that’s where they feel safe. We need to change our direction or just wake up.”
  • Keoki Kaolelopono, a Christ-Driven Assembly of God associate pastor, said while more police officers can be posted on every block in town, he feels a more effective way to combat crime is through religious efforts: “You stop violence with God’s word and having God in the community. One of the problems in this community is people not wanting what they call tweakers walking the street. It’s our job as people to change their lives and be a light to them. We have too many people who aren’t willing to stand for this community and for God.”
  • Kealoha Kaolelopono, another Christ-Driven associate pastor, said parents need to take responsibility to keep the town’s youth away from gangs: “Our young people today are not growing up the way they used to with respect, honor and discipline. Instead, they’re growing up turning to gangs because they feel safer there. Who do we blame in this situation? It’s not the [police] chief’s fault; it’s the parents of this community. [Gang members] are not coming from terrorist group out there somewhere. They come from the hallways of our own homes into the streets of Selma. Give your kids Jesus and you’d have a better community.”
  • Father Guadalupe Rios of St. Joseph’s Church said Selma’s police officers need training to prevent racial profiling: “Minus this garb here, I get a very different reaction from police officers and that’s a bad thing because it’s based on appearance. I got pulled over on my bicycle in the barrio area at seven in the morning because I passed a stop sign without stopping. It escalated from ‘what’s your name?’ to ‘are you on parole or probation?’ like he was fishing for a charge or looking for something he can nail me on. It turned into a ticket that was $250. I would just hope there’s some sort of sensitivity training [for any officers that are hired].
  • Colleen Nelson said the City needs higher-end housing to bring in more property taxes: “When you talk about Selma in this county, we are known as the place where all the parolees are sent and they live here. Why? Because we’ve got the most Section 8 housing. If we can’t bring in some better housing and bring in more businesses, we can’t improve. We don’t have a very good image anymore and it hurts my heart because this is my town. We need to be making better decisions on how we spend our money, use our time and enforce our codes to get back on track with what we’re supposed to be doing here.”
  • Teresa Salas, a retired Selma Human Resources employee, said keeping police officers on staff has been a problem for a long time because of the city’s budget: “That’s been an issue for the last 30 years. The City doesn’t have the money to compete with the City of Fresno or Clovis. Officers get their start here, once they have a few years under their belt, they’re gone. That has nothing to do with the City of Selma not being a good place to work. We just don’t have the money they want and need to support their families. It’s something that’s happened for as many years as I’ve been around.”
  • Brandon Shoemaker is among parents concerned for not only his children, but for all the youth in town. He’s concerned that murders of teens have gone unsolved: “Of concern to me, more than anything, is there are no pleas from the police department for help or information in solving any of these crimes. There’s no information about the murder of these children on Central Valley Crime Stopper’s website. There are no pleas for information to the public on the City’s website or the Police Department Facebook page nor is there any outreach on a regular basis to the TV, print or radio news to keep the information flowing. There are many free outlets to help get the word out and ask for help on these types of cases.”
  • Frank Hernandez said he’s tired of hearing about plans and wants to see what decisions have been made: “This is the same thing we heard on the last meeting and the meeting before. Ms. Guerra finally hit the nail on the head. Show us productivity. Don’t tell us what already know the city needs. Show us what you’re all doing. You should have these conversations [in your offices] and come out and say ‘we’re doing this and doing this.’ We’re two hours into it. Everybody can paint us a beautiful picture, but show us results. Show us what’s getting done.”

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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