It is important for organizations to evaluate their performance regularly. It helps them understand what they’ve accomplished, where they stand compared to previous years and current goals, and most importantly, what to focus on in the coming year.
Here at the Ukiah Police Department (UPD), we’ve developed a long-term strategic plan called Measuring What Matters Most. It clearly defines goals for the effective delivery of police services so we can continue to improve safety and quality of life in Ukiah.
As you can imagine, keeping Ukiah safe can be challenging. Our officers work hard to reduce violent crimes and property crimes—and they do a great job. But that doesn’t stop them from looking for ways to do even better. That’s why our long-term strategic plan is so important.
Our long-term goals are:
• Reducing Crime and the Fear of Crime
• Improving the Quality of Life in Our Neighborhoods
• Enhancing Community and Police Partnerships
• Developing Personnel
• Continued Accountability
I am happy to report that last year our community saw a significant decrease in crime. Overall, crime decreased by 15 percent from the previous year, continuing a trend that has included a 25 percent decrease in crime during the last five years. That’s a significant achievement, as there is no more important goal than reducing the impacts of crime in our community.
We divide crimes into two main categories: violent crimes, which include homicide, rape, robbery and assault; and property crimes, which include burglary, theft, vehicle theft, and arson. Violent crimes are down by 9 percent from last year, and property crimes are down by 20 percent.
One of the ways we decrease crime is to solve crimes as quickly as we can after they are reported—this prevents criminals from committing additional crimes. Last year, our officers solved 77 percent of the reported violent crimes in our community, compared to the statewide average of 45 percent. We also solved 53 percent of the reported property crimes, compared to the state average of 12 percent. I’m really proud of our officers.
The second goal of our strategic plan is to improve the quality of life within our neighborhoods, and we recognize that the transient population is causing significant problems in this area.
We know we can’t arrest our way out of homelessness, so we’re looking for alternative paths for people who desire assistance. To this end, UPD is collaborating with community partners to find long-term solutions. By collaborating with multiple agencies, homeless people who want to become self-sufficient can get the assistance they need, and we can reserve law enforcement resources for people who choose a transient lifestyle and continue to harm our community.
Although violent crime in Ukiah is decreasing, our community still has too many violent crimes. Part of the reason is that more criminally sophisticated people have been relocated to our community. In an effort to save money, the state implemented a program called Realignment, which relocates state inmates to county jails and those on probation to local communities like ours. As you’d expect, statistics show that many of these people are likely to re-offend in the future.
To address these and other complex issues, we at UPD review our progress annually, taking a close look at what’s working and what isn’t. We then develop a plan to address local crime trends for the upcoming year. One of the most important parts of this process is working collaboratively with you, our community members, to make Ukiah safe.
Tonight, April 18, at 6:00 PM we will present our latest performance report to the Ukiah City Council, and we invite you to attend. We will share our work in the five goal areas, reviewing last year’s progress and presenting our plan for keeping Ukiah safe in the coming year. If you can’t attend, you can find our report at www.ukiahpolice.com.
Remember, our mission remains simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve, please call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.