The other day on the news, I listened to a story about car burglaries in San Francisco. The reporter said that the city was experiencing as many as 60 window-smash car burglaries a day, and that the police did not have the resources to respond to many of these thefts. The reporter advised people to keep packages hidden from sight, and to park in well-lit, public places.
Here in Ukiah, we’ve seen an upsurge in crime during the last few months. Our community experienced a horrific murder, a domestic violence-related stabbing, a number of gang-related stabbings and shootings, an increase in vehicle thefts and home burglaries, a carjacking, and most recently, a mugging on our railroad trail.
These are terrible crimes, crimes that shouldn’t occur in our community. I want to assure you that our officers are working extremely hard to solve these crimes, as well as prevent future crimes. If you are the victim of a crime, or if you observe a crime in progress, call us—we will respond.
A rise in crime is often related to larger, more complex social issues that can be hard to pinpoint; but we can identify some changes that are clearly contributing to the rise in crime here in Ukiah.
- An increase in people convicted of crimes staying in our community instead of going to prison as a result of Governor Brown’s Prison Re-Alignment Program AB109.
- An increase in repeat criminal behavior after the passage of Proposition 47, which decreased penalties for crimes like burglary, shoplifting, forgery, check and electronic fraud, theft, receiving stolen property, and possession of illegal drugs like meth and heroin.
- An increase in “travelers” who come to our community without financial support or assistance and depend on handouts–or often criminal behavior–for their food, shelter and other basic needs.
- And, a significant decrease in mental health services for those who need them.
These are just some of the reasons for the increase in crime. Regardless of the reasons, the simple reality is that we don’t want any more crime in our community. We choose to live in Ukiah because there’s so little crime; it’s what gives Ukiah that small town feel we all love.
As we start the Christmas season, I do have few tips to make Ukiah as safe as possible.
- Keep your house locked. Turn on your house alarm; don’t hide a key under the welcome mat; and please don’t display shinny presents in the front window.
- Keep your car locked. Don’t warm up your car unattended; don’t display valuables in plain sight; and never keep an extra key in the sun visor or glove box.
- Be extra diligent with your credit cards and online purchases. It is the season for scams, and scam artists are cleverer than ever. Watch out for too-good-to-be-true deals!
- Don’t walk alone–especially after dark. Please take a friend, or consider a safer, more public route.
- And please don’t give out handouts. Handouts allow the purchase of drugs and alcohol. If you’d like to help, donate to the Ukiah Food Bank, Plowshares or the Ukiah Valley Christmas Effort. Your dollars there will really make a difference.
Along with these simple safety tips, I also want to mention one other creative way to make Ukiah safe: that’s to shop locally.
Wait, what? Shop locally?
Yep! By shopping locally, you really do make Ukiah safer. Shopping locally this holiday season helps keep local businesses in operation and local people employed. Those business owners and employees spend local dollars at other local businesses, and all these businesses fund essential public safety services.
That’s right. Your local dollars pay for the resources we need to make sure you are safe. Shopping local means having dispatchers to answer your call, and officers to address crime in Ukiah.
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.
By: Chris Dewey - Chief of Police