In most years, police departments look to reduce crime rates.
But this year, Turlock Police Chief Rob Jackson was happy with a flat crime rate, despite numerous additional challenges facing the department.
“I think we’re being fairly successful,” Jackson said. “My prediction that the crime trends would greatly increase hasn’t come to fruition.”
The Turlock Police Department released its 2013 Annual Report on Tuesday, cataloguing a challenging year that still had a number of successes.
More than 20,000 former convicted felons returned from state prisons to local jails and, ultimately, communities like Turlock. The “realignment,” a state budget savings maneuver, has led to a dramatic increase in the criminal element in the community, Jackson said, with more probationers and parolees who would have previously been in prison.
The problem is compounded by a reduction in local police officers, due to city budget cuts. Since 2012, the City of Turlock has reduced 10 percent of its sworn police force, or seven officers.
The total number of part one crimes, the most serious crimes, increased slightly in 2013 to 2,951, up just nine crimes from 2012. The overall number has been largely flat since 2011, and remains below historical averages.
The part one crime rate per 1,000 citizens actually slightly improved in 2013. The crime rate fell to 42.22 serious crimes per 1,000 citizens, down from 42.68 in 2012.
In 2013, Turlock saw two homicides, 12 forcible rapes, 81 robberies, 216 aggravated assaults, 626 burglaries, 1,583 larcenies, and 431 motor vehicle thefts. The Turlock Narcotics Enforcement Team seized 3,386 marijuana plants, 5,243 pounds of the drug, in addition to 65.54 grams of methamphetamine, 45.08 grams of heroin, 4.6 pounds of hashish, 8 firearms, and $66,833 in property.
The Turlock Police Department expects to embrace non-traditional approaches to reduce crime in the future. Crime predictive software is coming this year to enable officers to concentrate enforcement efforts on areas where crimes are likely to occur.
The Turlock Police Department fielded more than 66,000 calls for service in 2013. Officers responded to 700 collisions, made 108 DUI arrests, and more than 3,600 arrests overall.
But force was used in just 28 of those 3600 arrests – less than .8 percent. In all, the department received just 13 complaints throughout the entire year.
“I think that speaks volumes as far as the abilities that our officers have, and the way they do business,” Jackson said.
Jackson also pointed to the success of crime prevention programs like Blue Santa, a police Christmas program, and National Night Out, an annual night when neighborhoods are encouraged to meet and talk with police. Last year, Turlock was ranked 28th nationwide among cities its size in National Night Out participation, No. 3 in California, and No. 1 in Northern California.
“I’d like to enhance it this year and do even better than we did last year,” Jackson said.
There were other successes in 2013, notably the opening of Turlock’s new Public Safety Facility.
And yet more change awaits Turlock police this year, as a planned restructuring to “right-size” the department is pending. Details remain hazy on the restructuring.
“We’re excited about the future, but we’ll talk about the future when we get to our budget,” Jackson said.
The Turlock Police Police Department 2013 Annual Report will be made available online in the coming days, at http://www.turlock.ca.us/.