By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Citizens' concerns voiced
Placeholder Image
On Nov. 6, Ceres residents were given an opportunity to consider Measure H to provide additional revenue dedicated exclusively for the hiring of additional police officers and firefighters.

As part of the campaigning for Measure H, citizen volunteers called prospective voters to explain the purpose of, and reason for the measure, with thousands contacted during the campaign period. Not surprisingly, the volunteers saw a trend in the comments and questions asked when they talked with residents. I consider these questions to be important so I thought it might be helpful to address them.

The most common question asked was why multiple police vehicles occasionally travel as a group when responding to a call. There are several reasons for this. The primary one is that the officers are usually spread throughout the community handling calls and enforcing laws. When a serious incident takes place, the officers head towards the incident location, and at some point, their travels will converge - usually within the last half mile or so of their destination. Another reason is that the officers may have already been at another call requiring multiple police units, and when they are dispatched to the next serious matter, they all end up traveling along the same route.

Sometimes a crime in progress will occur at shift change, which results in multiple units responding from police headquarters. I should emphasize that these days police almost everywhere are encountering more drug-crazed suspects, violent criminals and individuals who are highly resistive and assaultive towards law enforcement personnel. We try to minimize risk to citizens and the police by dispatching a sufficient number of personnel to those incidents requiring higher caution levels. These things combined may tend to leave the impression that the police travel in "packs." That is not the case; it is simply a matter of practicality for officer and citizen safety.

While the large majority of citizens ended up supporting Measure H, some have also shared concerns about how the police may have treated them in a certain instance, that an officer was rude or that the officer made them feel like they were bothered by the citizen's request for service. I have been in this profession long enough to know that, indeed, employees can make mistakes or convey a sense of disinterest in the citizen's needs - especially when they have numerous pending calls backed-up in the dispatch center.

Some of this citizen dissatisfaction can arise out of simple communications misunderstandings. We handle tens of thousands of calls every year, so it is understood that problems will arise on occasion. These are the kinds of issues that police management cannot correct if we do not hear about them. We have a strong desire to be the best possible police force, and without your feedback, we cannot take corrective measures in order to achieve that goal.

This police department always has a watch commander on duty, and it is that individual's job to ensure quality service and to resolve customer complaints. We now also have a full-time police lieutenant who can assist with these kinds of problems as well. Of course, Commander Borges and I also avail ourselves to handling citizen concerns, but we cannot always be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is best to address concerns promptly while the involved officer(s) are still on duty and while memories are still fresh. The on-duty watch commander, at 538-5706, is the most direct route for concerns.

Political aspects of Measure H aside, I have found the volunteer phone calling activity to have extraordinary community survey benefits. Overall, citizens expressed great support for this agency, and the majority of them recognize the staffing problems that both the fire and police divisions are struggling with.

I am proud of what the Department of Public Safety does for this community, especially with its limited resources. We cannot claim perfection. However, we can certainly strive for perfection, with the ultimate goal that we quash all crime and leave each and every citizen we serve feeling totally satisfied. It is a utopian notion, I realize, but with appropriate citizen feedback, we can keep working towards that goal. I am grateful and appreciative that the citizens voted to provide the Ceres Public Safety Department with the resources it will need to be the best it can possibly be.