Chula Vista is one of the safest cities in San Diego County. The latest SANDAG (San Diego Association of Governments) crime report is out and it shows that in our city, the overall crime rate has declined by 27 percent from 2008 – 2012. For the region, during this time period, crime declined by 16 percent. For 2011-12, Chula Vista crime declined by 2 percent while it increased by 7 percent in the region. These numbers are from the FBI Crime Index which includes homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft.
Chula Vista also showed reductions in violent crime rates and is down 34 percent from 2008 – 2012. In the last year (2011-12) violent crime went up in the region by 7 percent and went down in Chula Vista by 14 percent.
The report from SANDAG, Thirty Years of Crime in the San Diego Region: 1983 through 2012, documents crime incidents at a regional level, and then city by city. Chula Vista shows declines in almost every category. You can view the report at www.sandag.org/cj.
We are lucky to have Police Chief David Bejarano in our city. He is widely respected by his peers and currently serves as the President of the San Diego County Police Chief and Sheriff’s Association and as the Second Vice President of the California Police Chiefs Association. Chief Bejarano tells me we must give a lot of credit to our employees — both sworn officers and civilian personnel. They do exceptional work focusing on crime, policing the city, and building partnerships. And, it’s important to recognize this is a shared responsibility among the city, the community, and the police department.
The men and women on our police force work hard every day to provide professional and proactive police service, respond to emergencies, and manage resources effectively. Partnerships with schools, community, and businesses contribute to this reduction in crime and keeping our city safe.
The police department is a budget priority with 43 percent of our annual budget dedicated to police services. The City has had tremendous success in acquiring grants and other funding to support public safety. In the last 10 years, the department has received more than $50 million in grants, and $25 million from other external sources. A recent $750,000 grant was awarded from the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to fund six officer positions to be filled with recent military veterans.
The Chula Vista Police Department has long leveraged resources to provide exemplary service while ensuring fiscal responsibility. In 2011, the police department opened a storefront office at the Otay Ranch Town Center mall, offering residents of eastern Chula Vista convenient access to various services. The office space is provided at no cost to the city of Chula Vista and is staffed primarily by the department’s Senior Volunteer Patrol officers; a group of trained and uniformed volunteers that help deliver the department’s many services.Police Chief David Bejarano, a district commander, and a Community Resource Officer are available during “open office hours” at the storefront.
But, we couldn’t be as successful without our residents. The Chula Vista Police Department believes the best defense against crime is embracing the community and engaging residents to be involved in the safety of Chula Vista. From the Citizen Academy and Town Hall meetings, to the annual National Night Out Against Crime, Chula Vista Police welcomes the opportunity to work side by side with residents to promote safety, crime prevention, and neighborhood spirit.
With the new budget on July 1, 2012, we dedicated funding to hire nine officers. We recently welcomed two to our forces and two recruits are in the training academy. The search continues for five additional officers. One of the primary reasons our Police Department does so well in combatting crime is the high quality of our officers.
We have been working with the Matrix Consulting Group (MCG) to identify opportunities to streamline operations and implement recommendations for improving proactive time (the time officers are available for street patrol duties – and are not writing reports, etc.). Patrol officers are the frontline of police operations. They spend their time either responding to emergency calls (reacting to crime) or, with their remaining time, proactively patrolling their assigned areas. Proactive time is a critical element in deterring crime.
The initial findings from MCG in October 2011, showed our proactive time at 22 percent. Forty percent proactive time is the goal. With City Council and POA approval, we were able to implement a new work schedule and other efficiencies starting in January 2013. We are monitoring our success and are optimistic that we will reach the 40 percent proactive time goal by the end of 2013, if not sooner.
The SANDAG report is a testament to our commitment to public safety and shows that working together we can maintain a safe and secure city.
Sandoval is Chula Vista City Manager.
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