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Public safety discussed at La Jolla community forum on seals

About 100 people who turned out for a community forum hosted by Councilwoman Sherri Lightner to discuss a court-ordered seal disperal plan for Children’s Pool were treated instead to a discussion of public safety issues at the pool by San Diego Police officials.

“When we initially called this meeting, we thought a (dispersal) plan would be in place and that we would discuss how to implement it,” said Lightner in opening remarks. “But there is no plan. So any focus in tonight’s forum will only be on public safety, with a report from the police department discussing how increased activity at Children’s Pool could impact public safety or traffic congestion.”

Lightner added Judge Yuri Hofmann ordered the seals to be dispersed this week, but did not accept the city’s submitted court-ordered dispersal plan, ordering them to return to court on June 15 with a new plan.

San Diego Northern Division Police Capt. Shelly Zimmerman and Assistant Chief Boyd Long gave brief remarks then fielded far-ranging questions on public safety submitted by the audience.

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Long said the police department’s job is not to take sides on Children’s Pool but to keep the peace.

“Regardless of the outcome in the courts, we will have an increased police presence at Children’s Pool to make sure traffic moves freely and any crowds that gather are treated with dignity and respect,” he said. “I assure you, if any criminal acts occur on the beach, we’re going to take appropriate action to make sure those will cease.”

Zimmerman said a protocol on seal issues is in place and can be viewed on the police Web site at www.sandiego.gov/police, northern division, Children’s Pool protocol, that defines acceptable behavior at the pool.

“I continue to urge you to respect and not inhibit in any way the rights and freedoms of all people to legally and peacefully occupy Children’s Pool and speak freely and openly without any intimidation,” she said, adding the pool remains open to the public at all times and that barring beach access is forbidden.

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Answers to all questions posed at the seal community forum will be posted on Councilwoman Lightner’s Web site, which will be updated with the latest developments on Children’s Pool as they occur.