Chico, Calif.-- With crime in Chico down 34%, city leaders will consider making the Street Crimes Unit a permanent fixture.
The city has devoted more money to the police department over the past three years, and both city leaders and the police chief say the results have really become apparent.
Chico's Chief of Police Mike O'Brien says along with stepping up retail watch and traffic patrol, the street crime team was a big part of a 34% reduction in crime between May and July of 2017, to the same time period this summer.
"When council made public safety and the police department a priority, that's really contributed to the build-back of the resources we needed to impact public safety," said O'Brien.
"It's really made a huge impact on our community, cleaned up a lot of the problems we have, and I think people are really starting to notice that this has made a difference," said City Councilmember Andrew Coolidge.
The 6 officers and sergeant of the Street Crimes Unit were told not to respond to calls for service, but instead to proactively seek out quality-of-life crimes.
Over the summer they made 283 arrests in a two-and-a-half month period.
Because of these results, Councilmember Coolidge wants a permanent team in place.
"Hire some additional officers and have them focus on this year round, so we can deal with this issue not just during the Summer- during the Summer we may have 2 street crimes units- but to actually have one full-time, year-round, that we can deal with these really hard issues we're dealing with in terms of crime, bicycle theft, things along those lines that our community really wants to see," said Coolidge.
Coolidge says the tough part, of course, is finding a way to budget for more officers - but he has some ideas.
The city could look at using money from the waste-hauling franchise fees or the new vehicle license fees they get from the county.
And, he says a smaller Street Crimes Unit - 4 officers rather than 7- may still make a big impact.
Coolidge says he hopes that if the rest of the council gets on board with his idea at Tuesday night's meeting, we could see a permanent street crimes team by the end of the year.
The meeting is at 6 p.m. at 421 Main Street in downtown Chico.
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