New ordinance, new salaries – same old problems – how do we get Chico PD to do their job?

3 Aug
When I went to the Airport Commission meeting last week I noticed somebody had taken up residence outside the front door of City Hall.

When I went to the Airport Commission meeting last week I noticed somebody had taken up residence outside the front door of City Hall.

Anybody who frequents Downtown, Midtown, and Lower Bidwell Park has noticed more homeless, or “street” people than ever. They have firm encampments at City Hall, City Plaza, the Vallombrosa post office annex, and throughout Bidwell Park. They mill up and down Mangrove and Vallombrosa Avenues around the Safeway shopping center.   As you get away from the city center and the park,  you see them alone or in pairs, moving along the main corridors of town, congregating wherever they can get cash for recyclables, or be out of the sight of passing cops, like the parking lot behind Raley’s on East Avenue.

The problem being, most of us have a hard time separating the truly needy from the hardpan criminals. Having observed the little mob that congregates at the recycling facility behind East Avenue Raleys, I was shocked to hear a report that a couple of them had got in a fight in broad daylight and one man had produced some sort of blade and stabbed the other.  That got my attention – I’ve parked my car on that side of the store since I had toddlers in hand.  

We see them regularly in our old midtown neighborhood now, they seem to be following the freeway across town. Our immediate neighbors, including a large church, noticed a brief upswing in crime, with some cars broken into and reports of bicycles stolen from garages. A car was broken into across the street from our house, again in broad daylight.  One afternoon not long after that, my husband and I encountered a woman out in front of our house who had just caught a couple of men in her garage with their hands on her son’s bike. She had chased them out and then got into her car to see which direction they’d headed. She said they had one bike of their own, and both jumped on it fleeing her garage. She was unable to follow them.  

This is a pattern I recognize all over town, don’t you?  Watch the local news – people have caught daytime break-ins on their security cameras. Full faces are shown. No arrests have been made that I’ve heard of, not since they got  the kid who was breaking into schools months ago. I haven’t heard of anybody getting their stolen property back either. 

The authorities have always acted as though a car break-in is the victim’s fault, especially in the park. Sometimes valuables have been left in plain sight, sometimes cars are smashed and rifled and nothing noticeable is taken. It’s as though you are stupid to leave your car unattended anywhere, including your own driveway. 

I’ve been shopping for mosquito netting – the other day I saw a screen that is specially made for your big garage door, with zipper openings big enough to get your car in and out. Great idea – airing your garage will cool down your house. But who would leave their garage open and untended around here?

 Did you know, local policeman Peter Durfee is the president not only of the Chico Police Officers’ Association (which is also a political PAC) but also the Chico Realtors Association? Durfee is a realtor? Wow, where does he find the time?  

Durfee is the officer who occasionally gets sick of the criticism of Chico PD and goes on a tear Downtown harassing street people. Not that I mind – he’s supposed to harass people for breaking the law. Anytime he’s felt like it, he’s managed to find about a violation every six feet – the sit and lie ordinance the cops screamed for is very specific. I see violations every time I go out. 

The picture above I took last week at City Hall at about 6:30 pm Wednesday.  There’s almost always a bed  laying in this spot. It still lay there when we exited the Airport Commission meeting, so my husband  snapped a picture of it. As we were leaving the little portico, a bedraggled man came round to see what we were doing. He smiled his drunken smile and greeted us with a tinge of fear – were we going to give him a bad time?   No, that’s not our job. At least one cop and more than a half dozen staffers, including city manager Mark Orme, had passed that bedding on their way into the chamber. He had been smoking in the non-smoking area when we arrived, and was still smoking when we came out. 

I get such a kick out of City Council, I’d really like to return the favor sometime, right in the seat of Mark Sorensen’s pants. They wasted hours of $taff time and passed that stupid sit and lie ordinance despite the fact they’d passed a similar ordinance years before that wasn’t being enforced. Now we see the same with sit and lie. Council also gave the cops very generous raises in exchange for paying three percent more of their pension – 12 percent. Out of salaries in excess of $100,000, they pay 12 percent of  pensions comprising 90 percent of  their highest year’s salary, available at age 50.

I predict Durfee will retire at 50, and then I predict he will make a run for city council. I predict he will be our mayor someday.

Just about the time our town is poised to go straight  down the shitter. Good luck Pete! 



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