Would more street lights Downtown solve our crime problem?

30 Dec

According to Alexander Thomas of Chico, “There has been numerous accidents, muggings, rapes etc, All over downtown Chico. According to crime statistics, three-fourths of all crimes take place at night, and two-thirds of these occur in dimly light areas. In order to make the city of Chico a safer place, we must implement a lot more street lamps all over the town. Especially so in places often frequented by numerous people like downtown.”

Thomas has launched a petition drive on Change.org to get the city to put more street lights Downtown, and so far, he’s gathered over 250 of the 500 signatures he wants to take to Ruben Martinez.

I know, Ruben Martinez left the city of Chico last Spring – both the city and Martinez said it was a mutual deal, that they didn’t agree over the direction the city should be taking. I saw Ruben at Wittmeier Ford recently, he didn’t look any worse for the wear. Although, I’ll say – he looks a lot shorter as a private citizen.

There are a few things, besides ignorance of city doings, that bother me about this petition drive. For one thing, I read the police and sheriff logs, and I watch the news almost daily – the last rape I saw in the news was the assault of a Chico State student in Olivehurst.  According to Channel 7 News,  “Investigators said the victim told them she got drunk Friday night. When she woke up, she was in an unknown house in the Olivehurst area.”

This assault probably started Downtown, but I don’t think street lights had anything to do with it.

The Chico Enterprise Record selects a couple dozen arrest reports and runs them weekly, but the actual arrest logs are usually pages and pages. The latest one I could find online dated back to the last week of May, 2015. It is 25 pages long, I looked over it, I only found one assault, on page 25. I saw reports of spousal and child abuse, more than I would consider to be “okay”, even “cruelty” to an elderly person. I saw one report of a fight Downtown, which was apparently broken up without arrest. I also saw a few people arrested with weapons – less than half dozen in all those pages.  

We only see the arrest logs, we don’t get the dispatch logs, where people report crimes. I don’t know why the department would keep rape reports a secret. I remember, in the months before they arrested the creep from Enloe Hospital, who was going around grabbing tipsy girls off the streets late at night, drugging and raping them – those attacks turned up in the paper. Why wouldn’t the police and newspaper be quick to report such crimes? 

Here’s the report for the last week of May 2015. If you can find a more recent log,  please send me the link.


I’ve posted the sheriff’s department logs for comparison. They post their logs right up to date.  These logs include dispatch reports of everything from accidents to stray goats. If you don’t understand something, cut and paste it into your google search engine, you’ll find out what all those abbreviations stand for. 


I wonder what is behind this push for more streetlights Downtown. I don’t know Alexander Thomas, but he seems to be genuinely concerned about crime in Chico.  

I would suggest he come up with some specific incidents from the police logs to support this petition. I’d suggest he approach the Internal Affairs Committee, where they’ve been discussing various safety improvements around town, some of which have been brought forth by citizens. And, I’d suggest he might mount some sort of public awareness campaign. A lot of our problems Downtown involve people who get drunk and aren’t paying attention, including pedestrian/car encounters. 

I’ll say the same thing about street lights I’ve said about bike lanes – they’re not some magical force that protects you from Danger, you are still your own best or worst friend.



9 Responses to “Would more street lights Downtown solve our crime problem?”

  1. Rob December 31, 2015 at 7:21 am #

    I believe this is just part of the usual fear campaign. Somebody wants a tax increase of some sort. The police have resorted to these tactics time and again – remember the “Gangs are Hiring” billboards.

    • Juanita Sumner December 31, 2015 at 7:32 am #

      I get the weirdest feeling it’s Downtown merchants. I was just listening to an interview with DCBA director Melanie Bass on Alan Chamberlain’s podcast radio show, Chico Currents, and she kept saying the city isn’t providing services for Downtown merchants (although she excuses the city for being, you know, BROKE). So, this may be a back door attempt at getting citizens to pay for improvements through some sort of tax. Maybe merchants and restaurant/bar owners believe Downtown would be more inviting with more lighting, or maybe they think bright lights would chase away the street people at night. But I don’t think it’s just lights they’re after, I think they want a “public safety tax” of some sort, and so they are jumping in with Chico PD to run, like you are saying, a fear campaign.

      • bob December 31, 2015 at 12:00 pm #

        Any merchant supporting a tax increase should be boycotted. Our taxes are already too high and there are plenty of things that could be trimmed from the city’s budget, like outrageous salaries and benefits for city employees.

      • Juanita Sumner December 31, 2015 at 7:40 pm #

        That’s the problem – no business has stood up and declared their support for any sales tax increase, I can only guess who is behind this at present.

        The DCBA is a group composed of willing members and conscripted merchants – you have to join to have a business within that Downtown grid.

        I do less business Downtown simply because there’s little down there I can afford that attracts me. But, the DCBA doesn’t get that. They blame crime for the lack of customer traffic, and tell merchants they need to spend more money on security. Of course that is passed along to us in the form of higher prices Downtown. Downtown businesses can’t afford to cater to the middle and working class Chicoans because rent is high and the DCBA is like a pack of leeches.

        At some point somebody has to crack and scream for taxpayer money, we’ll see who it is.

  2. Jim January 1, 2016 at 9:36 am #

    There will probably be several tax increases on the ballot this year. CARD pool bond, public safety sales tax, school bond, garbage tax, what else? I can’t even keep track of how they want to spend more of our money, while giving us less in services.

    Of course the problem is the high salaries and benefits for City workers. We just can’t afford this much longer.

    By the way, Randal Stone informed me that the City did NOT give the fire union notice last year that we might want to contract fire services out to Cal-Fire. So we are stuck for the time being.

    • Juanita Sumner January 1, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

      I have been ignoring the fire department since they “reorganized,” but next week the council is looking a Public Safety Management contracts that will add some $80,000/year to the budget. It never ends.

  3. bob January 1, 2016 at 11:43 am #

    Oh, you just have to see this. We need a city and county ordinance to apply this our corrupt local politicians.


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