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  • Mark Joseph

Lessons Learned, part two: Feeling Safe

There's a saying about a canary in a coal mine. The canary represents an early warning system. Referring to my second major lesson learned, this analogy seems appropriate.

American Canyon is a very safe and welcoming community. This is something we can all be proud of, thanks to an outstanding police department, a strong sense of community and service, and one of the most diverse communities in the Bay Area.

Looking at our latest Annual Police Report for 2021, overall crimes have dropped in the last seven years, from 763 serious crimes to 523, a drop of 30%. As far as the most serious offenses (Murder, Rape and Robbery) are concerned, our numbers dropped by over 50%--from 29 in 2015 to only 13 in 2021.

But like the canary in the coal mine, there are some early warning signs. Not so much in the stats, but from stories I heard during the campaign. We are getting more vehicle burglaries in town--the latest being in the LaVigne area in September. Fortunately, a person was arrested in that case. I talked to a person at my campaign rally and he told me he has lived here for many years, and he feels we are not as safe as we used to be. Another person talked to me about possible drug deals going on at one of our parks.

To be fair, we do a good job catching the bad guys and recovering the property loss, especially with the help of our neighbors--don't forget to register your Ring doorbell camera and other home security cameras with our Police Department. And we have made great success with our Community Based Policing--we encourage our residents to call in suspicious activity, and we work hard to build a sense of community.

Please do not read this and worry about your safety. We are a safe and welcoming community. But part of a Council member's job is to look for these early warning signs and make sure we address the issue sooner, rather than later. That's how we avoid a small problem from becoming bigger.

With that in mind, what do I propose?

First, let's give our Police Chief the resources he needs to do his job. I talked to him about these issues and he is developing a strategy to address them, particularly the local traffic issue.

Second, we need to use technology to increase our ability to catch people breaking our laws. Security Cameras are often the next best thing to having a police officer at every corner! As noted above, we want you to register your security cameras with the Police so when there's a crime in your neighborhood, our officers can reach out and see if your video can help us.

Likewise, we should consider expanding our publicly owned cameras. Recently, our Chamber of Commerce worked with our businesses at Green Island Industrial Park and installed a number of cameras out there. This should improve our ability to identify criminals and ensure justice is served. There may be concerns about privacy, but these issues can be addressed. On balance, catching criminals should be our priority.

Last, but not least, consider joining or creating a Neighborhood Watch in your neighborhood. This is both a safety program and a community building effort. With the Neighborhood Watch program, you get to meet your neighbors, learn safety tips and get to know our Police Department personnel.

But it can also let us talk to neighbors about other programs and services that are available. For example, we could talk about programs to reduce water use (and save money on your water bill), or encourage a Block Party, especially as part of our National Night Out. There will be rebates and credits for making your home more energy efficient or less reliant on fossil fuels--getting this info out through Neighborhood Watch groups could be just another reason to join.

In short, as we work together, we can make sure we feel safe, and at the same time learn more about what the City can do for you.



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