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Police Department Focuses on Crime Prevention

Post Date:05/08/2019 8:30 AM

The City of San Luis Obispo Police Department (SLOPD) released its 2018 annual crime report, most notably detailing the increase in prevention programs and community education. 

“Crime and nuisance prevention will continue to be a major priority for SLOPD,” Chief Deanna Cantrell said. “Our efforts show positive results in many areas, and we are optimistic the measures will continue to improve the safety of our city.” 

From 2017 to 2018, theft from vehicles decreased from 566 to 432 instances, and total year property crime (including commercial burglary, residential burglary, theft from vehicles, stolen vehicles and general theft) was reported at 1,811, up slightly from 2017’s reports of 1,782 instances during the year. 

“Property crimes are a significant issue within the city and throughout the state,” Cantrell said. “Smart approaches and education continue to be primary ways to prevent crime. We continually remind community members to “Lock It or Lose It” and the importance of removing personal items from vehicles. Theft from unsecured vehicles and residences is an area where we would like to see more partnership.” 

SLOPD has adopted the following crime prevention and education programs with a goal of proactive and positive impacts: 

  • PACT (Police and Community Together) remained a high priority. PACT is a partnership with a committed and diverse group of citizens—including representation from leaders in the Jewish, Black, Latino, Muslim, LGBTQ, Interfaith, Student and Homeless/Mentally Ill communities—to affect positive social change.
  • The SLOPD employed a Public Safety Analyst who started in a part-time capacity and moved to full-time in January 2019. The position analyzes crime trends and helps the department allocate limited resources for the best possible outcome. After several years of an unprecedented increase in crime, 2018 ended with a 2% increase overall (with 2020 incidents reported). 
  • Neighborhood outreach meetings were conducted, complementing the programs already in place: neighborhood officer program, neighborhood outreach and civility effort and Cal Poly partnerships.

The full, seven-page police department comparison and update includes several highlights from 2018. A few of those are: 

  • PACT was chosen as the winner of the prestigious Anti-Defamation League 2019 Helene and Joseph Sherwood Prize for Combating Hate.
  • The SLOPD, in partnership with the Homeless Services Oversight Council, Transitions Mental Health, County Behavioral Health and the Sheriff’s Office, held a panel discussion to address concerns around homelessness and clarification on violations. The Community Action Team (CAT), City Rangers and patrol officers increased their presence in known transient camp locations; and in July, Captain Smith worked with Rangers, Public Works and Code Enforcement to establish a Service Level Agreement regarding the removal of trash from identified camp locations. Through funding from County Mental Health, and in partnership with Transitions Mental Health Association, SLOPD added a full-time social worker to the CAT. Overall, calls for service pertaining to the homeless population increased to 489 incidents, a mild increase of 7% from 2017.
  • SLOPD received a grant through the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) which funded eight special enforcements to address bicycle violations and three two-hour presentations on bicycle safety. In addition, SLOPD implemented a new warning program related to bicycle violations.
  • The party registration program continues to be a success, with 115 applications received and 88 approved.
  • The City has purchased three cameras for Mission Plaza, Mitchell and Meadow Parks that will be added to cameras already in use to capture areas previously not covered. 
“Our overall goal is to reduce harm,” Cantrell said. “We plan to do that by reducing crime and victimization; reducing traffic collisions and increasing multi-modal safety; strengthening regional partnerships; strengthening the health and well-being of our employees; and strengthening our relationships with the community.” 

The Department had numerous vacancies in 2018, and like many law enforcement agencies across the country, difficulty recruiting lateral employees. The upcoming 2019-21 Financial Plan will include funding for two additional officer positions to address cannabis integration in SLO and a School Resource Officer to increase safety in SLO schools. 

On May 7, a presentation was made to the City Council regarding these, as well as other, police department updates including community outreach, crime, police operations, homelessness, traffic, noise and downtown safety. 

More information about 2018 crime statistics, as well as the comparison and update, can be found in the Police Department Update on page 305 of the City Council report here:

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