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String of homeless attacks on bystanders in Ocean Beach concerning the community

After CBS 8 aired a story about an Ocean Beach anesthetist who was attacked leaving in Ocean Beach, people started posting their Ocean Beach experiences online.

SAN DIEGO — After CBS 8 aired a story about an Ocean Beach nurse anesthetist who was attacked leaving an OB restaurant, many people started posting their Ocean Beach experiences online. Stories of getting assaulted, threatened, peeping Toms, and harassed.

We called San Diego Police to find out why people reported having such problems with response times. 

People we’ve spoken with said they felt like police officers are not enforcing the laws, and there seems to be something preventing them from doing so.

Lieutenant Adam Sharki with San Diego police said SDPD is authorized to have a strength of 2,036 and currently has 1,839 sworn staff members - That includes everyone from the newest recruit in the police academy to the Chief of Police.

Ocean Beach’s City Councilmember Jennifer Campbell’s Chief of Staff, Venus Molina, said the city has been focused on what she called "compassionate enforcement."

She said homeless people are highly protected, but her office is asking for more enforcement. 

Molina said they asked for more money for the police department and more officers.

“We need people taken off the street," Molina continued.

She said during the pandemic, people were released from jail, and police couldn’t book people into jail.

Jonny Poehlman, the owner of Sunset Garage in Ocean Beach, said it had been a dream of his to own a business in Ocean Beach, a town he grew up loving.

Six months ago, Jonny was attacked, and he had to hold his attacker down for 45 minutes waiting for the police to arrive.

 He said, “I was assaulted six months ago. The guy who punched me just came running across the street and punched me. I was sitting in a customer’s car. He broke my glasses,” Jonny said.

“I want to walk to get food. I don’t want to be beaten up or assaulted. I don’t want to be asked for change," Jonny continued.

Last week we showed you a surveillance video of a man getting attacked outside Hodads in OB. Woody Bethel told us he was leaving a restaurant in Ocean Beach when a group of people who hang out in town asked him for money. When he told them no, he says they attacked him. 

Police said they had not arrested anyone for Woody’s attack, but they have persons of interest.

Jonny said there’s open drug use, and homeless and out-of-work adults hang out on the sidewalks day and night. "People know now that they can get away with it, and they come down here because they know that they can come to Ocean Beach and they can do whatever they want and repercussions would be limited if any. You talk to the police officers, and they’ll tell you the same thing. ‘Our hands are tied by what we’re allowed to do.’ We’ve let it happen to the point where it’s almost unrepairable," Jonny said.

We had a tentative date to sit down with Police Chief Nisleit, but scheduling conflicts did not permit the meeting.

San Diego police responded to our inquiry and said:

“We understand why this incident is distressing to our community. The video is difficult to watch. The San Diego Police Department will continue to respond quickly to calls for service and work proactively to keep our neighborhoods safe. This is an active investigation. While the suspects in this attack remain at large, our detectives have identified persons of interest and are working to build a case against those involved. Anyone with information is asked to call SDPD, or they may contact Crime Stoppers and remain anonymous.”

WATCH RELATED: Ocean Beach man attacked by group of homeless people in front of Hodad's speaks out

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