San Bernardino City Attorney Jim Penman (LaFonzo Carter/ Staff Photographer-The Sun)

Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/03/2012 08:08:38 PM PST

SAN BERNARDINO – City Attorney James F. Penman used his comment period at Monday’s City Council meeting to defend an earlier comment that residents worried about crime should “lock your doors and load your guns,” saying similar advice has proven correct before.

Penman clarified that he wasn’t speaking to people who aren’t comfortable with firearms or have children – from teens to toddlers – in the home, and he said he opposed vigilantism.

But he doubled down on the substance of the advice, first given at a community meeting Nov. 28: Police cutbacks and rising crime mean residents must take responsibility for their own safety.

“The problem is serious,” Penman said. “The Police Department will do everything it can to protect you. … But they can’t do everything they would like.”

The city’s pendency plan – its budget for 2012-13 and 2013-14 – doesn’t include money to refill vacant officer positions if at least 260 sworn officers stay on the force. That’s down 80 from the department’s peak employment and compares to 268 this month.

Meanwhile, 46 people have been killed in San Bernardino this year, compared to 29 at the end of November 2011. The highest number of homicides in recent years was 58 in 2005, a peak Penman said he predicted weeks earlier after police told him they were understaffed.

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