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Taking a stand against crime
Neighbors banding together to form watch group
Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion listens to concerned residents Thursday at Yosemite Village Park. - photo by HIME ROMERO


Manteca’s 25th National Night Out - a community police partnership aimed at fighting crime - takes place on Tuesday, Aug. 7. Manteca Police are urging residents to organize block parties to get to know their neighbors as the first step toward fighting crime. Last year there were more than 80 block parties. For more information on the event or to register a block party call Jodie Estarziau at 456-8161, Brandy Clark at 456-8623 or Jason Hensley at 456-8149.

Folks living near Yosemite Village Park took the first step Thursday towards taking back their neighborhood from a surge of speeding as well as other crime including a drive-by gang shooting.

Over 40 strong from the neighborhood southwest of Union Road and West Yosemite Avenue met with Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion to discuss putting together a Neighborhood Watch program.

They spent 90 minutes airing their concerns. Included was safety – in particular, traffic woes such as speeding motorists – crime and other suspicious activities.

“I need you to help us,” said Obligacion, who has held the Manteca Police Department’s top spot since February.  He took it upon himself to meet with the group.

“We all know that with power in numbers we can make a difference,” added Obligacion, who was joined by Sgt. Chris Mraz of the Street Crime Unit.

Mraz pointed out that a neighbor reporting a suspicious activity helped lead police to Wednesday’s pot house bust that netted an estimated $1.2 million worth of marijuana plants.

Unlike the newer subdivision, police believe that this long-established neighborhood had more advantages towards deterring crime.

“You know each other, you talk to each other, and you share information – this helps us do our job,” Obligacion said.

Miles Kelley was among those looking to take back his neighborhood. He encouraged others to do so by passing out 150 flyers to advertise the informational gathering at Yosemite Village Park.

Kelley was thrilled with the turnout and with having Obligacion in attendance.

As chief, this was his first time conducting an organized neighborhood session.

“They had some real issues,” he said.

Obligacion noted that Public Works can conduct a traffic analysis to monitor the speed of motorists throughout this area consisting of El Portal Avenue, El Capitan Avenue, and Wawona Street, calling El Portal a “feeder street” that links Yosemite Avenue to Wawona.

He also encouraged folks to contact police dispatch, using a direct non-emergency phone number.

“It’s an actual human on the other line and not (an automated) voice,” Obligacion said.

Neighbors, in this case, can opt for anonymity when leaving a message while providing a call-back number to provide additional information.

As for the Neighborhood Watch program, Obligacion plans to send police officer Jason Hensley to Yosemite Village Park to provide information at the inaugural meeting scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 23, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

“I heard some good ideas for Neighborhood Watch just being here today,” he said.

One neighbor, for example, suggested putting together a website that would allow folks to enter anything suspicious via blog.

“We need to rid of the riff-raff with their (loud) boom boxes driving around here at 1 o’clock in the morning,” Kelley said.