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Is there too much or not enough crime coverage?

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POSTED April 22, 2010 2:24 a.m.
Some say the Manteca Bulletin reports too much crime and, as such, creates an unreasonable amount of anxiety about crime.

There are those who claim the Manteca Bulletin reports too little crime and trumpets monthly reports that show most of the top 11 categories of felonies dropping in comparison to previous years. They contend the Bulletin is misleading Manteca residents into thinking the community is safe.

So who is right?

Well, it depends upon your perspective as well as your experiences.
Crime is dropping statistically in Manteca. That, however, doesn’t mean much if you’re a victim of crime or your neighborhood is hit by a series of crimes.

Police will tell you that gang-on-gang violence is up and that’s not a good thing for anyone as innocent people often get hurt plus it takes away from any sense of safety and security people may have.

At the same time the police have done solid work in being able to build strong cases to ship habitual criminals off to prison. That is reflected especially in the drop in residential burglaries, car thefts, and auto burglaries. But wait, you say. What about the stories about residential burglaries in this very edition of the Manteca Bulletin?

If you are from one school you’d say we are lauding the law enforcement effort while crime is still rampant. If you’re of a different frame of mind you’d say crime happens but a lot less of it is happening.

Again, if it is happening to you, your family and your neighbors or your friends it is a big thing.

Police Chief Dave Bricker has astutely pointed out on numerous occasions that, “a community will have as much crime as it tolerates.”

This is one reason why the Bulletin won’t downplay gang violence in our coverage as it is the biggest problem Manteca has. With all due respect to Stockton and Modesto, many of the gang incidents that rate stories on the Bulletin’s front page wouldn’t do so in those communities if they even make the paper at all save for a one or two paragraph story on the inside.

If people aren’t aware of the problems, the influence of gangs and the cancer they bring to a community will simply spread.

The police can’t do the job by themsleves even if they have 100 more cops. They need a partnership with the community. The intent isn’t to scare people but to inform people. If stories about crime make people more aware of what to do to secure their property and to help police collar the habitual criminals and others then Manteca will be safer.

It is a war fought in steps. But like the War on Terror, if it is out of sight it is out of mind. The surest way to let the gangs and criminals win is to ignore them and treat it like it isn’t an issue.

On the flip side, Manteca, thanks to dedicated police officers and community involvement, is a fairly safe community. Is it as safe as it was four years ago? Crime numbers show that it is safer. Is it as safe as it was 12 years ago? No.

The goal should be to keep pressure on criminals as we move forward.

It will never disappear but once we start tolerating it – and taking a see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil approach – criminals will have the upper hand.

There are a lot of economic realities in the mix as well. If the city were to completely cut off parks and such and load up the police department to ride out The Great Recession and foreclosure mess, it will create additional problems that will lead to crime.

• • •

APOLOGIES TO MAGNA TERRA
: An apology is in order to the residents of Magna Terra.

In Wednesday’s column when I noted I considered buying a home in the neighborhood but was turned off by a nearby house where the residents created habitual problems, I wrote, “It was enough to cross the house - and neighborhood - off my list.”

It was way too general of a statement as Patrick Greiman noted. The reason I considered Magna Terra is I like the neighborhood and still do. Although I was repeatedly told by some not to consider the area because McNary Circle which often is a hotbed of problems was in the vicinity, it didn’t faze me. I know a number of people in Magna Terra who are great people, keep their homes up, and cause no problems. It is still a solid neighborhood. What isn’t good – just as in Powers Tract where I ended up buying – are enclaves of one or two homes where people are creating major issues for their neighbors and doing so without regard for anyone else.

Even with some problem areas in Powers Tract I still bought there and would do so again. But if the house that I wanted was within two or three doors of a “problem house” I wouldn’t have.

So again, apologies to the residents of Magna Terra especially those that respect their neighbors.
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