Last Friday, I was invited to attend a Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation (RCHDC) staff meeting in Ukiah. RCHDC is a charitable, non-profit corporation that helps people become homeowners through a self-help, home-building program. RCHDC also manages multi-family, low-income housing for families and the elderly.
The meeting I attended included property managers who are worried about crime occurring near their apartment and housing complexes. They shared concerns about the fact that many Ukiah neighborhoods–especially those with apartment complexes–don’t feel as safe as they used to. Many of the properties they manage are near high crime areas where drugs are being used and sold, gang violence and graffiti are common, and transient activity sometimes leads to assaults and other violent acts.
At the workshop, we received training from a Crescent City Police Sergeant who is working on an innovative program called, “Crime-Free Multi-Housing Program – Keeping Illegal Activity Out of Rental Property.” The program is designed to stimulate community involvement, generate confidence in comprehensive crime prevention activities, prevent crime through facility design, and enable partnerships between property owners and police officers.
During the presentation, a courageous property manager asked, “What can I do to help stop crimes from occurring near my property?” Sadly, no easy answer exists; however, one way to counteract the stress of constantly reacting to criminal activity is to find ways to shift from being reactive to being proactive. We need to look for ways to prevent crimes from occurring.
In other words, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.
There are many ways to prevent crimes from occurring on your property. Simple things are the best place to start: make sure your car doors are locked at night. Don’t leave windows open when you leave the house. Talk with your neighbors; watch for out of place activities, and please call the police department right away if you see something suspicious.
Another great thing to do is to stand out on the street and ask, “What can the neighbors see? What can the police see when they drive by?“ As you stand there, can you see your front door? What about the window with the broken lock? Are there bushes and shrubs blocking or obstructing the view? Many of us love our privacy, and so do those who like to take things from us!
Our Ukiah Police Department (UPD) staff regularly works with the Planning Department to review new buildings. Our goal is to make sure that new building and landscape designs help prevent crimes. If you would like assistance reviewing your property to enhance security and prevent crime, please feel free to contact us.
Today, UPD is as busy as ever. Our police officers respond to an average of 80 calls for assistance each day. Recently, UPD participated in a workload study which compared Ukiah to other cities in the nation, some as large as Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Louisville, Kentucky.
When we measured the number of felony crimes per officer, we found that UPD had the highest reported workload of any city in the study. Impressively, UPD also had the highest success rate in solving those felony cases (89 percent). We have posted the report here, (2011 Performance Measurement Report) in case you’d like more information.
Even though we have a limited number of officers with uncommonly high workloads, we continue to have the highest success rates in solving crimes because of our fantastic partnership with the Ukiah community. Just as it helps us solve crimes, I believe it is our unique community-police partnership that will help us prevent crimes. We simply need to shift some of our focus to prevention. I was extremely excited last Friday to hear about the “Crime-Free Multi-Housing Program,” and look forward to implementing it and other partnership opportunities in the near future.
Our department’s mission is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have any suggestions or comments about how we can improve, please feel free to call me, complete our online survey, or leave a crime tip on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.