I wonder what does the city of Santa Ana do with the money they generate from charging our community for copies of police reports?

Currently, you have to pay $20 to obtain a copy of a police report from Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD). The city of Santa Ana, not SAPD, determines the fees for obtaining a copy of your police report. However, if you are a survivor of a crime, this can be an unnecessary burden to cover.

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The number one calls to SAPD deal with domestic violence, according to an investigation by the Voice of OC in 2015 in an article titled “Battered Lives: Santa Ana’s Ongoing Struggle with Domestic Violence.”

This means that the majority of the revenue from copies of police reports comes from victims and survivors of crimes. Additionally, Santa Ana is home to a predominantly immigrant community, which we can only conclude that the costs falls directly on immigrant families and individuals, specifically women.

I am bringing attention to this issue because of personal experience. In 2014, I decided to report to SAPD that I am a survivor of domestic violence. When you experience violent acts your mind goes into a state of shock in which your thinking is impaired and it is very difficult to keep your thoughts together.

I waited for over an hour before I spoke to someone and my testimony was taken. I felt that hour was too long of a wait but I stayed. SAPD failed to properly inform me of my rights as a victim let alone inform me about legal protections I could qualify for. For the first time I realized that there needs to be some basic change in policy, in the city of Santa Ana and SAPD, when dealing with people like me.

Two years ago, I didn’t know my rights, didn’t know organizations to help me existed, I basically didn’t have the right information to know that I also qualified for a special protection called the U-Visa. While navigating this process, I was not aware of the emotional and mental toll this whole situation was having on me.

From my point of view, I believe that city of Santa Ana should stop generating revenue on the backs of people like me. Instead, the city should waive that fee, and instead create a fund, to facilitate any legal process protecting survivors who are immigrant in the city of Santa Ana. I have been lucky to obtain pro-bono representation, but that is only because I decided to organize.

Most survivors of crimes in Santa Ana don’t trust SAPD because they collaborate with ICE. And, I decided to speak out and will advocate until the city stops making money of off survivors backs.

So there is one clear decision the city of Santa Ana can make, stop charging us to obtain copies of police reports, and establish a fund, where the city contributes in helping my community to cover legal fees for our protection.

Public safety is about people, and I want our city to be proud that it protects and cares about one of its most vulnerable populations.

Luz Maria is a member of RAIZ, a migrant-led organization that focuses on stopping deportations and the overall protection of the community from police abuse.

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at TSears@voiceofoc.org

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