Ukiah’s Quality of Life
Each month, the Ukiah Police Department (UPD) submits information about local felonies and serious misdemeanor crimes to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in a report called the Crime Index Report. This allows the DOJ to track national crime trends. Last week, we submitted our May statistics, which included 93 felony or serious misdemeanor crimes.
That’s 93 victims--people and businesses--who experienced a robbery, stabbing, aggravated assault, burglary or serious theft of property in a single month. That is too many victims of serious crimes for our small town.
The good news is that UPD is working incredibly hard and successfully solving the majority of these crimes. We solved 100 percent of the crimes committed against people: robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, and aggravated assaults with injuries. We also successfully solved 70 percent of the crimes where property was taken, like a burglary or theft.
Our goal remains simple: to solve these serious crimes so they are less likely to be repeated.
The bad news is that we have significantly more crime to report. The 93 crimes reported in the Crime Index statistics don’t include quality of life crimes like drinking and driving, drunk in public, shoplifting, and being under the influence of drugs. On a typical day in May, we had three officers on duty and they responded to about 90 calls for police service each day--most of these calls were related to quality of life concerns.
In May, UPD’s three on-duty officers started 322 criminal investigations (10 per day) and arrested 182 people (6 per day); activity included a blend of serious Crime Index offenses and quality of life crimes. What remains a challenge for UPD is finding a way to balance our workload--solving these serious Crime Index offenses while also working to prevent crimes that reduce people’s quality of life.
Recently, you may have read that the Ukiah City Council and the Ukiah Police Department (UPD) conducted an in-depth department review of our performance. (You can find our report at www.ukiahpolice.com/about-us/statistical-information.)
During our review, people we interviewed said that they chose a small, rural town like Ukiah because of the quality of life here: natural beauty, connections to family and friends, friendly atmosphere, less traffic and noise, a sense of community, and a feeling of safety.
Yet, in Ukiah today, we face many factors that are reducing our quality of life and safety.
When we asked community leaders which factors most negatively impacted their quality of life, the responses were remarkably consistent. Overwhelmingly, the top three factors were:
1) The illegal cultivation and sale of marijuana and its effect on local culture.
2) Transients drawn here by marijuana and the crime associated with both.
3) The need for good jobs and economic development.
While the first two issues (marijuana and transients) make sense, some people asked, “How can the police department create jobs and economic development?”
While UPD doesn’t directly create jobs and economic development, the community leaders we interviewed said that without safe neighborhoods, jobs and development might not occur.
If people view a neighborhood as unsafe, if they fear being the victim of a crime, they are less likely to seek work there, buy a house there, frequent retail shops there, or raise a family there. So clearly, improving the safety within a neighborhood is critical to creating jobs and future economic development.
While we must continue to address serious crimes like robberies, stabbings and burglaries, we must also find ways to address crimes that affect our quality of life – and to do that, we really need additional officers.
Last November, the Ukiah City Council recognized this need and authorized UPD to recruit and hire new officers. These additional officers will increase staffing from three officers on duty per shift to four officers on duty per shift, and allow the department to focus on reducing quality of life crimes within our community.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have any suggestions or comments about how we can improve, please feel free to call me, complete our online survey, or leave a crime tip on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.