Despite receiving a generalized report from Turlock Police Chief Robert Jackson, the increase in crime was an unignorable reality for the Turlock City Council. By the request of Councilwoman Amy Bublak, Chief Jackson will be returning to the podium and presenting to the City Council the specific crime trends in the City of Turlock and a course of action to reduce the crime affecting Turlock residents.
Even though Chief’s Jackson’s report did show an increase in crime for Turlock, Councilwoman Bublak was vocal about her frustration with the content of the Chief’s lackluster presentation.
Councilwoman Bublak, a retired Modesto Police Officer, argued that there was no plan of action that would address what TPD would do about the crime trends and emphasized her disappointment with the leadership.
“My comments from this point on are not about the police officers… I speak to the leadership, and so, it’s important that we understand that it’s us sitting here listening to our constituents and their complaints of not feeling safe, quality of life issues, and they’re coming to us and they’re telling us this,” said Councilwoman Bublak.
Bublak continued stating, “They’re not saying that they hate the police department, in fact they’re saying ‘please don’t let them know we’re upset with them, we just want to see them more, and we’re worried about crime.’”
“They’re telling me there’s crime in the west side that’s bothering them, and this is a different area. This is Turlock communities saying there’s a problem, so that’s why we’re here and that’s why I asked you to come forward with some plans.”
Although Chief Jackson was able to break down in person the number of homicides and vehicle thefts, his presentation fell short of showing specific data relating to homicides, larcenies, and other thefts.
Chief Jackson’s graph presented numbers indicating that Part 1 crimes, which include crimes such as murder, larceny, burglary, and aggravated assault, as a whole increased from approximately 41.61 per 1,000 residents in 2014 to 44.1 in 2015.
In his presentation, there was no direct data or graph that separated something like murder from car theft, both considered to be Part 1 crimes.
Verbally, the Police Chief was able to communicate that there were increases in crimes such as motor vehicle theft from 357 to 513, larcenies from 1,618 to 1,635, burglaries from 518 to 603, and aggravated assault from 242 to 260.
In total, the 41.61 number reflects 2,868 Part 1 crimes for 2014 and 44.1 reflects 3,133 Part 1 crimes in 2015.
This number is projected to increase slightly to 44.18 per 1,000 residents for 2016.
Chief Jackson addressed that if the council was interested in seeing a month by month breakdown of crime trends for Turlock, then this was something the Turlock Police Department could provide.
TPD has a public information crime analyst, however, the analyst has been out on medical leave with no one in the department to fill her position. This presented an issue to the City Council since TPD has vacancies, but also has the money to help fill those vacancies.
“I know we have vacancies, which means we have money that isn’t being spent for those salaries that could be used to augment and make some changes to show a little bit more out there if the staffing is available to do something,” stated Councilwoman Bublak.
Staffing has proved to be an issue for TPD, which currently has 78 sworn officers. There are currently 3 vacancies in TPD, however, even though the money is there to fill them, Chief Jackson has claimed that there are problems in finding qualified candidates.
Councilman Steven Nascimento addressed that Chief Jackson has warned of the uptick in crimes as result of changes in state law, however, with the uptick in crime now readily evident in Turlock, plans for crime should be updated.
Even though Councilman Nascimento noted that he believed the Council could help in terms of policy, by allowing the TPD to overhire sworn officers to provide an average of 78 officers yearly- accounting for retiring and departing officers, he admitted that he was out of his area of expertise when talking about the Chief’s implementation plan under current crime conditions.
“It’s one thing to anticipate an uptick in crime. It’s another thing to see it here and try to figure out well maybe something needs tweaking, and I don’t know that’s not my specialty, it’s yours and so I defer to you. I do think as council we do have some ability to help you in terms of just policy…,” stated Councilman Nascimento.
The implementation plan was included elements of policing, crime prevention, and partnerships. However, as of late, crime prevention efforts such as sites like Nextdoor.com, seldom appear to be monitored. Councilwoman Bublak addressed that a year ago, Chief Jackson told participants of National Night Out to get on Nextdoor.com, a private networking site that could aid in crime prevention.
“The problem is now we’re drinking water out of a firehose. We’ve got problems with crime, our theft is very high, and one of the things we want to do is encourage the public to help us, help them,” said Chief Jackson.
However, even though neighbors are able to connect with one another the site, interaction with police on these sites has been sparse.
“A constant criticism that I hear, and you guys as Councilmembers might hear this, is that these tools on social media are great for neighborhoods to talk to each other, but then a lot of rumors and a lot of things get fed and then they snowball. There’s no one out there monitoring to try and get accurate information out there,” said Mayor Soiseth.
Overall, Councilmembers remained frustrated and disappointed that the presentation did not meet their expectation. Since the plans and specifics of crime trends that were expected were not addressed, Chief Jackson will be returning with another presentation on Aug. 9 that can better present the trends of Turlock crime.