Earlier this Summer I gave the State of the Community address, sponsored by the Redlands Chamber of Commerce. In the speech I said a key priority for the City is a safe community and that Public Safety required our attention each and every day.
I mentioned some key Police Department challenges within Public Safety that also required our attention and our diligence. The local effect of state prison reductions, called realignment, is requiring dedicated resources to monitor those released into our community. Due to prison overcrowding and State policy changes these offenders are released if their most recent crime was a non-violent offense. The State has categorized these individuals as Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) subjects. The City currently averages 70 individuals that meet this criteria living in the City.
While some will reintegrate into the community, others will reoffend and create hurdles for our local law enforcement. In only 5 months this year Redlands had 57 arrests of PRCS subjects, with 75% of those individuals identified as living in Redlands. Also troubling is that during this period San Bernardino County has seen a rise in assaults on officers.
While the statewide data is still being analyzed, we can certainly say that since the state implemented these changes, local law enforcement has been tasked with offering increased supervision of these subjects and crime has increased in Redlands. Redlands has seen a rise in both serious and violent crime according to the most recent data.
We see three potential tools that will help guide our policing efforts: Expanded use of technology, increased public safety officers through grant funded positions, and continued regional coordination with programs such as the gun buyback.
The Redlands Police Department has consistently used technology to solve crime and monitor our public spaces for many years. But in the future we will expand uses of technology to give residents and businesses increased peace of mind through innovative ways to thwart burglaries. Redlands has recently begun a pilot project in which resident’s check-out GPS trackers that can be placed in televisions or computers while on vacation. If the item moves more than 20 feet a notice is sent to the Police Department that a burglary may be in progress. This is proven technology that could be easily offered to area businesses with minimal expense.
The Redlands City Council has also approved an application for additional police officers through a federal grant request. These additional officers will allow the City to expand our shift schedule during the time of day where we see increased calls for service.
The City recently partnered with San Bernardino County and a half dozen other cities to support a highly successful gun buyback program. In Redlands, there were 308 guns removed from the streets including 10 Assault weapons. Those are weapons that could have later been accidentally discharged, stolen, or used in the commission of a crime. San Bernardino County could potentially offer another similar program in 2014.
But the public and local businesses can help as well. Residents and businesses need to be diligent in reporting suspicious activity. “See Something, Say Something” is a theme that we encourage all residents to use if they see suspicious activity within the City.