Chico PD hires 5 new officers, promotes 4 – is this going to solve our crime problem?

16 Dec

 I don’t know if you’ve been “Nextdoor” – a social website for neighbors that was introduced into Chico a few months ago. I signed up, despite a pain-in-the-ass process for which I was first asked to give my social security number or my credit card number but finally opted for a post card sent to my house to “prove” my residency.

I went along with it because I was hoping for a sort of bulletin board about crime in our neighborhoods. I expected the classified ads, the greetings, and now I find there are exclusive neighbor groups who are allowed to pick and choose who they let in regardless of address. But, I have also found some people use it to inform each other of criminal activity. I’ve noticed this type of post is increasing. 

Lately people have reported stuff like home deliveries being stolen or opened and rifled through, cars are being broken into and items stolen, and one man’s back yard shed was jimmied. These crimes have all been reported within a mile of my house. 

The pivotal weakness is that not very many of my neighbors, or anybody for that matter,  have signed onto Nextdoor, so I know there’s stuff going on that’s not appearing on the site. My husband and I used to keep up a chatter with our nearby neighbors, but our hood has changed alot over 15 years.  Lately a lot of my neighbors have moved, new people have appeared who I don’t know. One neighbor who signed onto Nextdoor has since moved, a new woman lives in her house, but the previous neighbor is still registered at the old house. This kind of website needs a good monitor. The monitor I contacted never responded to me. 

But, I see enough to know, crime is steadily increasing in Chico, and the new cops they’ve hired over the last year and the raises and promotions they’ve given have not changed anything. 

In today’s Enterprise Record, I read, “Five new Chico police officers were sworn in and four officers received promotions during a ceremony Tuesday at the Chico Fire Training Center.”

I guess there’s some good news – “The new officers — Jeremy Gagnebin, Jamie McElhinney, Trey Reid, Francisco Salinas and Miranda Wallace — graduated from the Butte College Law Enforcement Academy and will now undergo roughly six months of field training, Chico Police Chief Mike O’Brien said”  – this means, they will pay 50 percent of their own benefits and pension. I don’t think that’s enough but it’s better than the 12 percent most cops pay. 

“O’Brien also announced the promotions of Sgt. Jeramie Struthers, Lt. Matt Madden, Lt. Rob Merrifield and Deputy Chief Dave Britt.”  I’ll lay down a five spot right now – Merrifield is spiking – he’s getting a raise now so he can retire soon at a higher pension. 

And this is very telling – “O’Brien’s promotions of Madden, Merrifield and Britt were the first of his tenure as the city’s chief of police, he said, adding that when he stepped into the role six months ago he had to replace half of his command staff.  ‘I had to tap some very specific individuals on the shoulder to come serve at a very difficult time,’  he said, noting strained relations between the Police Department and community, as well as historically low staffing.And each of them answered that call. In that six-month period they have all performed extraordinarily well.’  The Chico Police Department, O’Brien said, is still hiring. The department is authorized to fill 92 sworn positions. About 88 of those are currently filled.

So, O’Brien is aware the public is very pissed off, that’s good. But low staffing? They always say that. They hire more but crime just keeps increasing. They pay themselves too well, according to that front page article run in the ER recently, and I’ve checked – they get paid on a par with San Francisco PD. Been to San Francisco lately? Been shot/mugged/carjacked? Here we have petty crimes committed by a population of scum bags who are allowed to camp illegally in our parks, sit/lie/and beg on our sidewalks, harass our merchants, all despite the creation of endless ordinances designed to give the cops more excuses not to bust any of these people. 

On Nextdoor Chico PD officer Paul Ratto announced they again rousted the permanent illegal camp along the creek and under the bridge at Humboldt and Cypress. 

“Target Officers encounter repeat encampments under the bridge at Cypress Ave. / Humboldt Ave. The Target Team is in an education phase of the new ordinance (9.20.050 CMC) prohibiting subjects from storing personal property in Chico’s waterways. Today, three subjects were contacted and two were arrested on outstanding warrants. Warnings were given regarding the ordinance. Also on scene was Stairways Program Manager Michael Madieros. Sometimes in these situations subjects with mental health or substance abuse issues are identified and can be rapidly housed. Through the Stairways Program these subjects are given a place were their needs and met and treatment can begin.”

Two of them had arrest warrants, the third was illegally camping – why can’t that person be cited or arrested? They hand him over to Michael Madieros – a guy who has made a tidy living for himself because he is willing to deal with these people when the cops don’t want to be bothered. Stairways is part of Butte County Behavioral Health. County Admin Officer Paul Hahn recently reported over half the county’s budget goes to “helping” the homeless and mentally ill. I have no idea what Madieros is paid, but there’s a pack of them down there getting salaries, benefits and pension for continuing to enable and encourage dysfunctional behavior. It just perpetuates their salaries, they don’t care about the consequences this practice is having on the rest of the functional community.

What in the world are we doing, catering to these people, and paying the police more and more money to stand by “meeting their needs”?  O’Brien compliments himself  – “During the past six months, he added, the city has been able to stem the flow of officers leaving the Police Department, which is something O’Brien has attributed to competitive salaries and a “sense of hope brought on by the leadership of the department’s command staff.”

Yeah, “competitive salaries,” competitive to huge cities with outrageous crime problems.  I don’t see any hope down there – I see a train headed for a picnic blanket. 

UPDATE 12/8/16 – Rob Merrifield retires at his spiked pay rate, Item 1.7:

http://chico-ca.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=649

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