California Police Chief- Fall 2013 - Page 28

‘We Can’t do it alone’ Stockton chief turns to community for help to address key challenges By Eric Jones The City of Stockton has been dealt many challenges in recent years, and recently was walloped by a triple-storm of unprecedented fiscal challenges, higher-than-normal levels of violent crime, and reductions in police staffing. Yet, even as the storm has raged, community optimism has endured. It has, in fact, grown stronger. In remarkable numbers, community members and local stakeholders have stepped forward, offering to work with the Stockton Police Department in the interest of public safety, and to foster better communication, trust and collaboration. Meanwhile, neighboring law enforcement agencies have also pitched in by enhancing collaborative efforts. Difficult times bring people together for the common good – and it is beginning to make a positive difference in Stockton. Even with the challenges we face, the Stockton Police Department understands we must not waver from our commitment to the philosophy of community policing. Reflected in our Mission Statement, this philosophy calls for working “in partnership with the people of Stockton to build a safe and secure community.” A key word in that sentence is “partnership.” During the recent economic climate, community partnerships have become more important than ever. • Violence Reduction Initiative. A 2012 City Initiative was designed to make the best use of resources and technology to address rises in violent crime and to increase police-community partnerships. Based on violence in certain hot spots and then apparent retaliations, the Department began real-time-policing strategies to focus on a strategic and data-driven approach coupled with community input to define the neighborhood problems. • Operation Gideon IV. The U.S. Department of Justice Attorney General’s Office provided support to the Stockton Police Department from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to carry out Operation Gideon IV a joint operation designed to target and remove violent criminals illegally trafficking and possessing firearms and to dismantle criminal organizations operating in Stockton. Undercover ATF special agents from throughout the U.S. were deployed over a four-month period with local ATF agents and Stockton police officers to conduct covert investigations into some of the most violent criminals in the Stockton area. The ATF worked with prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office. • California Highway Patrol Partnerships. The CHP has increased its presence in Stockton by providing officers to work in high-crime areas alongside Stockton Police. The CHP has maintained both a constant presence in the City by frequently assisting as part of our Community Response Teams, and has also contributed large numbers of officers to participate in short-term high-visibility enforcement missions. • Countywide Multi-Agency Gang (MAG) Task Force. The Task Force was created in May of 2012 to address violent gang members throughout San Joaquin County. Stockton Police and San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore launched the Task Force in an effort to stay a step ahead of emerging violent crime patterns. It serves as a clearinghouse for gang intelligence, enables consolidation of multijurisdictional gang investigations, and sends a loud, united, countywide message from local law enforcement that gang violence will not be tolerated. Critical to the team’s success has been partnering with Parole and Probation. The cities of Lodi and Manteca soon joined the task force as well. • Countywide Community Corrections Partnership Task Force. Created last fall, the Task Force was formed to address the issue of absconding parolees and probationers under AB 109 realignment. The mission of the Task Force is to protect the quality of life in our communities by reducing crimes committed by AB 109 offenders and promoting the work of the Community Corrections Partnership by reducing recidivism. • Firearms Violence Reduction Consortium (FVRC). FVRC is a joint effort between the Stockton Police Department and San Joaquin County Sheriff, Probation, and District Attorney’s Office to reduce gun violence countywide. • Community Advisory Board. Launched in November 2012, the board comprises a cross section of residents of Stockton, and was formed 28 | Behind The Badge to create a greater avenue of communication between the community and the police department with regard to police-community relations and public trust. 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