Implement community services and outreach program, including Teen Citizen’s Academy
The SCPD’s community services unit is in full swing. In 2011, the unit put on numerous programs, including two sessions of the popular citizens’ police academy, which was offered in English and Spanish; two sessions of the PRIDE (Personally Responsible Individual Development in Ethics) program for at-risk middle-school students; and the teen jeopardy challenge. Approximately 45 people participated in the citizen police academy and 20 middle schoolers took part in the PRIDE program.
As a part of its effort to reach out to young members of the community, the department also extended its citizen police academy to teens, offering two teen citizen academy sessions in the summer of 2011. 45 teens learned about the basics of crime scene investigation, the responsibilities of the traffic division, and the role of the K-9 unit. This summer, SCPD plans to offer four additional sessions. These sessions, however, will have a twist: rather than be focused exclusively on police work, these sessions will be held jointly with the fire department in order to emphasize public safety as a whole. 90 teens are currently signed up for the teen public safety academy that is being offered this summer.
Implement police volunteer program
Coordinated by SCPD’s community services unit, the Police Volunteer Program has been in operation since March 2011. Volunteers assist the police in a range of tasks, from maintaining department vehicles to verifying traffic complaints to staffing mobile police stations, thereby freeing up sworn officers to focus on public safety. There are currently 25 volunteers working for SCPD.
Implement gang suppression and diversion program
SCPD currently has one police officer assigned as a school resource officer (SRO) for local middle and high schools. The SRO helps ensure safety at schools by conducting foot, bike, and vehicle patrols on school campuses, by attending after-school events, and by conducting special trainings on gang awareness and other topics. SCPD partially funds a probation officer that is assigned to the juvenile diversion program.
Implement violence prevention and intervention programs
In the last few decades, law enforcement has found that suppression alone is not enough to reduce gang activity; preventing kids from joining gangs in the first place is also essential. Accordingly, the City is striving to steer kids away from gangs by offering gang violence prevention and intervention programs.
SCPD and staff from the Department of Parks and Recreation will jointly hold a workshop on gang violence prevention in the fall at Louden Nelson Community Center. SCPD has also partnered with Santa Cruz City Schools to implement the PRIDE gang prevention and intervention program, a multi-faceted approach to early gang prevention for local intermediate school-aged boys and girls. A ten-week program, PRIDE aims to steer kids away from gangs by visiting jails and prisons; providing adult mentors; and hosting guest speakers, such as former gang members, recovering drug users, and police investigators. The PRIDE program was put on twice in 2011 and had 20 graduates. The PRIDE program will be held twice in 2012.
Because gang membership extends beyond the City’s jurisdiction, SCPD is active in two countywide gang taskforces: the Santa Cruz County Anti-Crime Taskforce (SCCACT) and the County Gang Enforcement Team. SCPD also participates in the North County BASTA program, and is participating in the re-formation of the Criminal Justice Council, which will act as the steering committee to address gang issues throughout the county.
Increase safety presence in impacted areas including Downtown, Harvey West, Beach Flats, river levee and in parks and open spaces, including maintaining 2006 Measure H commitment towards public safety
The City is working hard to step up law enforcement by filling vacancies in Parks and Recreation and SCPD. On January 30, 2012 the City brought on board a new chief ranger to oversee the protection, preservation, and maintenance of the City’s recreation facilities, watershed lands, and open-space lands. In April, the City swore in a new police officer who is now participating in SCPD’s 18-week field training program. Additionally, the City hired three new police recruits. These three recruits are now attending the basic police academy, a 22-week training program required by the State of California for all prospective police officers.
The SCPD’s downtown unit has a full complement of police officers. The downtown unit patrols the 18 square block downtown business district on foot and bicycle to provide a crime-free environment and to assure equal use by all citizens. In order to give the SCPD additional eyes and ears, the City has also contracted with First Alarm to deploy security guards Downtown; along the river levee; in San Lorenzo Park, Laurel Park, Grant Park; on the Wharf; and in the Harvey West area.
Evaluate and implement opportunities for regionalized fire services
In a bid to do more with less, the City and UCSC implemented the Management Services Agreement on 1/1/12. Under this agreement, the City and UCSC have merged the management of their respective fire departments and will coordinate emergency responses in a two-year pilot program. Additionally, the City and UCSC are working on a joint purchase of a fire apparatus. By consolidating fire services, the City and UCSC expect to be able to provide greater public safety at a smaller cost.
Implement Rental Inspection Program to ensure safe housing
The City’s Rental Inspection Program has been implemented. In August 2011 the City started mailings to rental property owners to begin the process of registering their rental units into the Residential Rental Inspection Program. So far the City has registered 3000 units out of the estimated 12,000 rental units in the City. Most rental property owners are registering as self-certificating units, but some have requested City inspections. Most units have passed the inspection checklist review with only minor corrections needed. Eight illegal units have been discovered during this six month period. Staff from the City’s planning department is monitoring the program’s impact on housing.