Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion isn’t ready to say whether Proposition 47, which reclassified some property crimes that were felonies as misdemeanors, was a failure.
But after Manteca saw a rise in property crime over the last year – the first time that’s happened since he took over the department in 2012 – he’s waiting to see whether Manteca’s property crime average and the average of other similarly sized California cities compare to the downward trend experienced nationwide. He won’t know that until September.
On Thursday night, Obligacion spoke before the Manteca Tea Party Patriots about Manteca’s crime stats, the trends that he’s seen since taking over the department in 2012, and how those correlate to what people actually see and believe is taking place within their community.
And a lot of it has to do with how statistics are interpreted.
While there was a rise in the number of felonies last year over the previous year, that number, 2,004, was still below the 2,134 seen in 2013 and the 2,225 seen in 2014. And while Manteca Police officers responded to 10 percent more calls in 2015 than they did the previous year, their response time for critical incidents actually dropped from 3:08 to 2:30 – dipping down to only 1:55 back in October.
Part of the discussion was about whether two California efforts to alleviate overcrowding in prisons have actually had a detrimental effect on the number of burglaries and thefts. The argument from some in the community is that since there’s room in the county jail – the State of California now allows those serving four years or less to serve that sentence at local facilities – those that would be arrested and processed are ultimately released to reoffend again.
Obligacion said that he wasn’t willing to make that connection until he sees whether both the Manteca and the California average increase.
He also had some harsh words for people who think that it’s a good idea to “warm their car up” to defrost the windows in the winter months.
Because Manteca is situated between Modesto and Stockton – both cities that rank in the Top 10 nationally every year in the number of auto thefts per capita – Obligacion stressed that it’s not a smart idea to leave your car running attended while you go back inside to grab a cup of coffee. Modern cars, he said, don’t need to be warmed up the way that they did years ago. He actually nearly lost his life – and discharged his duty weapon for the first time – back in 1995 when he chased a woman who had stolen a car that was being warmed up to Stockton and was almost struck by her.
“If it’s cold outside, wear a jacket or wear a scarf,” he said. “There are a lot of things that you can do – put a towel over the window. Just don’t leave your car unattended because that invites trouble. Some people don’t like to hear that, but it’s the truth.
And while he said he’s taken some flak for his position on the city’s recent ban on growing medical marijuana, he stood by his position and defended some of the elements that were brought up at the council level when it was discussed – specifically the “delivery” options that was outlawed.
“You’re talking about somebody that shows up at a house with a bag and says, ‘would you like to try this strain, or this strain or this strain’ – it’s crazy because this guy isn’t a doctor,” he said. “If you’re peddling your wares to all of these different places for a profit, you’re a drug dealer.”