Ideas to make Ukiah Safer
Last fall, Realty World Selzer Realty sponsored a contest paying $750 to the person who came up with the best plan to make Ukiah a safer place to live and work. By December, all three judges agreed that Jane Covella submitted the best ideas and she was awarded the prize in time to use it as Christmas spending money.
So for the past three months, we have been working on implementing Covella’s main recommendation, which was to use technology and social media to enhance a Neighborhood Watch-type program to connect local citizens with each other and law enforcement to share information about crime or suspicious activity.
We reviewed programs from other police departments and got advice from experts in online communication, and I’m excited to announce that we’ll be rolling out a program called, “Business Watch” very soon. Business Watch connects local merchants via an online forum where current crime trends, safety tips, and other issues can be discussed 24/7.
Our Business Liaison, Community Service Officer Nancy Sawyer, has been busy pounding the pavement with volunteers to listen to concerns and questions from local citizens, and she’ll work with other UPD staff to update our website and Facebook page with answers to those questions. She’ll also distribute safety tips to Business Watch members each month. To keep their businesses as safe as possible, Business Watch members can request a safety evaluation and safety training from a UPD officer like Nancy.
Most of us who live in Ukiah love it here, but if you’ve lived here a long time, you’ll have noticed some disturbing changes. While some people still see Ukiah as the safe little town it once was, today our police officers respond to almost 100 calls for police assistance a day; dealing with violent felons, mentally ill people who are a danger to themselves and others, couples who engage in domestic violence, thieves, and others you wouldn’t want to be close to.
And years ago, we didn’t have the transients we have now—people who come through Ukiah bringing violence and drugs, but who do not consider Ukiah their home and have no interest in being part of our community. These people wreak havoc here. They take a lot of police time—time we’d rather spend on community policing and crime prevention.
This decades-long decline in safety is what inspired Dick Selzer to come up with the contest, and I’m glad he did. While I’ve been busy with Jane Covella’s ideas, I’m also thinking about ways to implement some of the other good ideas people submitted. And just because the contest is over doesn’t mean you can’t submit ideas to make Ukiah safer. In fact, the contest made me realize I haven’t shared all of the creative ways we’ve tried to make Ukiah safer.
For example, UPD uses asset forfeiture drug and gang prevention funds to provide free bussing to transport children to the Boys and Girls Club at Grace Hudson Elementary School, where they can have safe, supervised afterschool care until 6:30 p.m. UPD also works with schools through the School Resource Officer, Vince Morse and his drug enforcement K9, Bugsy. To assist with the mentally ill, homeless, victims of domestic violence and at-risk youth, we have strategic partnerships with more than a dozen local government and non-profit organizations, including:
- Gang Resistance Is Paramount (GRIP)
- Council on Domestic Violence
- Ukiah Community Center & Food Bank
- Homeless Services Work Group
- Project Sanctuary
- Homeland Security Funding Committee
- Mental Health Services Act Committee
- Nuestra Casa Board of Directors
- Mental Health NAMI Committee
- UVMC Health and Emergency Workshops
And we’ve enhanced our online presence to make more information available to the public, with an active Facebook page and an interactive website. If you’re interested in learning more about Business Watch or working more closely with UPD, contact Nancy Sawyer at (707) 467-5708 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.