"America's largest open-air mental hospital," that's how Oceanside police spokesman Bob George described this run-down coastal city between Camp Pendleton and the surfer towns of North San Diego County. I called it the Slum by the Sea. Despite the miles of beach and the beautiful old Spanish mission and the Southern California weather, Oceanside was a honky tonk Marine Corps town on the west side of Interstate 5 and a sprawling mess of trailer parks and starter-home suburbs to the east.
I spent a lot of time at Bob's desk in the back of the OPD headquarters. Sometimes it was as a police beat reporter, sometimes it was as the [...]