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A look at crime in Manteca today

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POSTED July 20, 2010 3:03 a.m.
One of the biggest concerns of our citizens is crime in their community.  We read the newspaper stories about gang activity and then see an article that says crime is down.  It makes you wonder how both can be true.  I thought it might help to know how and why the Police Department tracks crime in Manteca.  

All police agencies track all reported crime within their jurisdiction.  Certain specific crimes are reported monthly to the FBI in a document called the Uniform Crime Report (UCR).  The UCR tracks homicide and non-negligent manslaughter, robbery, forcible rape, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny/theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.  These statistics are released every year in a published report that can be obtained from the FBI web site at www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr/htm.  Traffic collisions and DUI arrests are tracked and reported monthly to the California Highway Patrol.  This information is published annually in the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) report and can be viewed at www.chp.ca.gov/switrs/switrs2000.htm.  The Department also tracks all calls for service the Police Department responds to including crimes that are not reported to outside agencies such as narcotics arrests, vandalism, peace disturbances, and domestic violence.  All of these statistics are posted each month on the City Manager’s blog and provided to the local newspaper.  

Crime statistics
help allocate
scarce resources
Why does the Police Department track crime and calls for service?  Well, there are many reasons.  In these days of tight budgets and reduced resources, it is vitally important that we allocate our personnel and attention to the locations and problems that are most pressing.  By tracking the type of crime and where it is occurring we can alter patrol patterns, assign undercover units, or plan sweeps or stings to address it.  Our Crime Analyst uses the information to identify likely suspects and vehicles, forecast where certain crimes will occur, and identify methods of a suspect’s operation.  All of this information is used by the officers to locate and arrests suspects.  

The UCR and SWITRS reports are also used by the Police Department as a statistical basis for applying for grants and requesting additional personnel, equipment, and training.  Most government grants are awarded to the agencies showing the greatest need.  For that reason, accurate reporting of crime and incidents are critical to showing that there is a need for the grant funds to address the problem.  

It is likely that some crime is under-reported to the Police Department.  Often people feel that they do not want to trouble the police with the theft of their bicycle or feel like they are just being paranoid when they see a suspicious person in their neighborhood, so they don’t call.  While major crime is usually reported, it is very important that people report minor thefts and suspicious circumstances.  We cannot address a problem that we don’t know exists.  Remember that we assign our patrol patterns based on where crime is being reported.  Citizens are encouraged to use the on-line reporting system for thefts and vandalisms if they do not want to call the Department by clicking on the “On Line Reporting” icon of the Department’s web site at www.ci.manteca.ca.us/police.   Suspicious persons and circumstances should be reported right away by calling the Police Communications Center at 456-8100 extension 1.  

So, is crime down in Manteca?  Yes, Manteca has experienced 15 consecutive months of overall crime reduction.  By that I mean that major areas where crime is tracked are down considerably.  Reported felony crimes are down 18.4% and misdemeanors are down by 22.8% over this same time last year.  There are many reasons for the reduction.  The Police Department has identified those individuals we knew to be prolific burglars, car thieves, and drug dealers and worked with the Sheriff and the District Attorney’s office to keep them in jail.  Volunteers like the SHARP, CERT, and SAFE, programs have put more eyes and ears in the streets and the citizens of Manteca have been an essential component by providing us with the information we need to locate and arrest offenders.  We have passed new ordinances that will let us hold absentee landlords accountable for allowing criminals to operate out of their houses.  We are working with other law enforcement agencies to help augment our resources so we can focus on specific crimes and problem neighborhoods.  

Any crime is too
much when you
are the victim
Does this mean there is no crime in Manteca?  No, of course not.  While our levels of crime are significantly below other area cities our size, any crime is too much when you are the victim.  Your police officers are dedicated and working hard.  They are committed to keeping Manteca as safe as possible and will continue to put themselves in harm’s way to protect you.   

This brings us to the one area where crime is up significantly; gang violence.  During the month of May we experienced a 121.05% increase in aggravated assaults attributed almost totally to gang-on-gang violence.  Though the gangs generally target other gang members, our fear is always that an innocent bystander will be injured during a random act of violence.  The Department has focused the efforts of the Street Crimes Unit (SCU) and the Detective Division on identifying the suspects in the cases.  The complicating factor in most of these incidents is that the “victim” gang member will not give us any information.  This is unfortunately true of the witnesses too.  After a shooting last week, a witness told the investigating officers that they saw what happened and knew who did it but refused to tell the police.  Our gang intelligence unit is very good.  We know who is committing many of these incidents, but it does not matter what we know.  It only matters what we can prove.  To do that, we need the help of the citizens of Manteca.  I have said many times that crime will grow to the level the public will tolerate it.  Don’t tolerate gang violence.  Tell us what you know.  Citizens can report information anonymously through Crime Stoppers at (209) 823-4636 or on line at www.southcountycrimestoppers.org.  Information leading to an arrest can qualify for a cash reward of up to $1000.  Remember, for evil to triumph all it takes is for good men to do nothing. 
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