SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA.com) — The city attorney of San Bernardino is under scrutiny for telling residents to "lock their doors and load their guns" during a city council meeting.
The official explained that because the city is bankrupt and slashing public safety budgets people will need to start protecting themselves.
City Attorney Jim Penman said he doesn't regret what he said.
"You should say what you mean and mean what you say," Penman said.
The city attorney said approximately 150 residents came to a council meeting to voice their concerns about recent crimes in the area, including the murder of an elderly woman last week.
"You could tell the swell of frustration was coming over a lot of folks. They did not feel like they could get an officer out as quickly to some of the quality-of-life issues that they were dealing with as they would have preferred," said councilwoman Wendy McCommack, who organized the meeting and was present that night.
"Well, if I remember right, I told them to 'lock their doors and load their guns,'" Penman said.
Penman said the city is dealing with bankruptcy, which has forced officials to cut its police force by about 80 officers. Consequently, there's been growing criticism about the police department's response time.
"Let's be honest, we don't have enough police officers. We have too many criminals living in this city. We have had 45 murders this year...that's far too high for a city of this size," Penman said.
The city attorney said it's important for people to be smart about protecting themselves and their families.
"I'm not advocating that people go out, who don't have any training, and buy firearms. I certainly strongly caution anyone who has children at home not to have a loaded gun in the house," Penman said.
"We need to take our streets back, we need to take our neighborhoods back and we need to protect our homes, and that's what I think Jim was trying to say," McCommack said.
The city of San Bernardino has seen a 50 percent increase in murders this year compared to 2011.
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