The staffing levels have remained largely the same over the last 15 years — two deputies in the city for every night and day shift, said Patterson Police Chief Tori Hughes.
Hughes also states there is a third K-9 unit patrolling the city in the afternoon and evenings during the weekend when crimes are most likely to occur.
City manager Rod Butler — while not able to give specifics, due to ongoing negotiations — said the city is looking to target extra deputies for times when crime is on the upswing. The city of Patterson is currently in negotiations with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department to renew a contract for police services. A five-year contract is currently set to expire June 30, however, the sheriff’s department and city of Patterson have agreed to extend the service contract through September to finish their current negotiations.
More than 20 residents attended the forum Monday evening, airing their concerns over rising property crime rates and police response times in the city.
“How do we acquire more of a police presence in the community?” Patterson resident Arnold Regalado asked early in the forum.
The city’s economic growth and transformation over the last five to seven years requires more police officers, he said.
Councilman Larry Buehner agreed that the city needed more cops.
“We need at least a couple more police,” he said. “We need more help.”
Unfortunately for the city, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department is unable to recruit more police due to cuts made in the police forces’ salary and benefits, Hughes said. Other police agencies in the state pay more and have better benefits, which attract potential police force away from our local area, she said.
Patterson High School Principal Dave Stubbs said the issue of more police comes down to money.
“Right now, we have to do with what we have,” Stubbs said. “You can go anywhere in this valley or in California and they’re having the same discussion.”
Mayor Luis Molina said part of the problem is building a sound relationship. Building better relationships with neighbors could help with curbing the amount of crime, Molina said. People don’t know their neighbors as well as they once did. As a result, communication doesn’t occur, he said.
“We need to make an effort to engage our neighbors,” he said.
Toney Henry, vice principal of Creekside Middle School, said she had a recent run-in with gang members affiliated with the Norteno street gang.
She said she observed youth smoking and drinking in her neighborhood at 8 a.m. Because she knew them by name she called them over and told them to cease drinking and smoking publicly in her neighborhood. She said they stopped, respectfully.
“I’m not going anywhere,” she said to the crowd.
Councilwoman Sheree Lustgarten reinforced the idea of knowing surrounding neighbors.
“Throw a neighborhood barbecue on National Night Out,” she said, noting the day for people to celebrate and get to know their neighbors is Aug. 6. “We need to build relationships.”
• Contact Nick Rappley at 892-6187, ext. 31 or firstname.lastname@example.org.