Recent nation-wide protests over racially based police brutality and ethnic profiling have brought about the need for sweeping changes to our criminal justice system. Each community should be asking how their system is currently handling this intractable problem and what steps will be taken to change current practices. Locally, the comments below offer some history and insight into changes that have been and are currently being made.
During the City of Stockton’s bankruptcy (2012-2014) expenses were drastically cut, including those related to community safety. The total number of Stockton Police officers declined by 120 or roughly 25%, and crime skyrocketed. Realizing the need to address the alarming increase in violence, our citizens voted to increase sales tax to replace public safety resources cut during bankruptcy. The focus on funding was to break the cycle of chronic generational crime, improve public safety and community outreach, and prevent unacceptable levels of violence. The model utilized to address these objectives was highly innovative, incorporating many of the changes that are only now being recognized by law enforcement agencies throughout the country.
Tax revenues collected were used to rehire 120 Stockton Police officers back into the force, streamline criminal policing strategies, as well as, increase police outreach within the community. The results of implementing this plan were highly successful. Murder rates and nonfatal shootings throughout the City of Stockton have declined by 42% on average from statistics reported when police staffing was at its lowest point.
Murder rates and nonfatal shootings throughout the City of Stockton have declined by 42% on average
The Stockton Police Department has also instituted many standards and initiatives considered best practices in community policing, such as on-going officer training, community outreach forums and participation in numerous national programs aimed at building trust within the community as well as targeting specific criminal elements.
Despite the revolutionary changes that have already occurred, the Stockton Police and other City of Stockton officials recognize that more needs to be done. We would expect ongoing review and implementation of best practices in community policing and neighborhood engagement. The process has already been in initiated with the recent creation of a community oversight board working directly with the City’s top management.
The proactive approaches that our criminal justice officials and city have taken in the past are indicative of a community that understood early on the need for improvement in effectively managing crime as well as the importance of treating all individuals equally regardless of race or ethnicity. We believe these practices helped keep the recent protests in our city peaceful.
We are proud and fully support the philosophy and work of our Stockton Police Department. With the help of all members of our community (criminal justice, business, faith, civic leadership and general citizenry) we can continue to improve on innovative and pro-active approaches that have already been initiated.
We are proud and fully support the philosophy and work of our Stockton Police Department.