Great Ideas: Making Ukiah Safer
As I’m sure many of you know, during the last few months Realty World Selzer Realty hosted a contest asking people to submit ideas to make Ukiah a safer place to live and work. The deadline for submissions was December 1 and the winner was announced on the front page of the Ukiah Daily Journal on Sunday, December 20.
The winning submission provided detailed recommendations on developing a “Community Network” of local citizens working together with our police department using proven techniques with new technology—a fantastic idea, one of many fantastic ideas that was submitted.
As a judge, the thing that struck me about all of the contest submissions was how passionate people are about our community. People care about where they live; they care about the quality of life they experience in their neighborhoods, and how crime impacts their safety.
And it was clear to me that people are willing to roll-up their sleeves and do the work it takes to make our community a better place. Although the contest specifically said we’d accept submissions in any fashion, participants took time to conduct research and submit clear ideas and proven concepts–all of which will help us improve the safety and quality of life in Ukiah.
Ideas of note included neighborhood watch-type programs; pedestrian, bike and traffic safety; additional mental health training for police officers; and economic development within our community. Most authors took time to research best practices of other communities, offered suggestions on how to develop new programs, and provided reference materials to assist in the development of these programs. And just about every submission indicated that community and police partnerships were vital to making Ukiah safer.
From their research and recommendations, it is clear these authors worked hard to provide great ideas to make our community safer, and I am very grateful that so many people want to work with our police department to make this happen.
One theme that was stressed over and over was that people like living in our small community and they want this community to be safe. And, critical to our success, people who live here want to be involved in making Ukiah safer in the future.
About 20 years ago, our community banded together to be recognized as one of California’s Best Small Towns. Back then, our department received fewer than 50 calls for police service each day, and our officers had time to work on prevention to reduce crime in Ukiah. Today, our officers respond to more than 95 calls for service each day, so their time is extremely limited.
Ukiah is not the same place it was twenty ago; crime has changed our community. But even with the increased crime, we are still bursting with community spirit and a willingness to make Ukiah the best small town we can.
It is this passion for our community and the concept of police/community partnership–found throughout the contest submissions–that emerged as the most important concepts. The winning submission was the best and most detailed illustration of these.
Much like the neighborhood watch programs which were popular twenty years ago, this new Community Network would help community members communicate with police officers, blending traditional neighborhood watch techniques with the power of social media, smart phones, crime mapping and crime tip hotlines to reduce crime.
There’s a lot there to do, but I am confident our officers and our community members are up to the task. During the next few months, I’ll work with others to research these suggestions and hold a series of community meetings to explore safety ideas with our community. Thank you to all who participated in this contest. Even if you didn’t win, your ideas will help Ukiah become safer, and in that way we all win.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.