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Op-Ed: Police Chief Puts Novato Crime in Perspective

Overall, violent crime is lower now than it was 20 years ago.

Whenever initiating a dialogue about crime in any community, there is always the risk of creating an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. The purpose of the discussion, however, should be to dispel misperceptions, calm fears, provide factual information that focuses on reality and solicit input that will assist in developing strategies to reduce crime and address the fear and uncertainty related to crime.

No community is crime-free and no community has all of the necessary resources that it takes to combat crimes and the causation factors related to criminal activity.  It takes the collaborative resources of our governmental agencies and the cooperation of our residents to effectively manage public safety concerns. We are fortunate to live in a community where we have hundreds of volunteers who donate their time and energy in an effort to improve the quality of life in our city.  We are also fortunate to have residents who have a very low tolerance for criminal activity.

Overall, reported crimes in Novato were reduced 10 percent in 2010 as compared to reported crimes in 2009. In 2009, there were a total of 4615 reported crimes and in 2010, there were a total of 4,123 reported crimes (felonies and misdemeanors combined). In fact, both property and violent crimes are lower today than they were 20 years ago as reported in the Department of Justice Uniform Crime report.

We documented and investigated a total of 99 violent crimes in 2010. This compares to 144 violent crimes reported in 1991.  This is good news, but we still have much work to do. 

The reality is that we live in a very safe community. Our crime statistics continue to show that we are a very safe community as compared to our neighbors in San Rafael and Petaluma.  These statistics further demonstrate that we have a lower crime rate per capita for both property crimes and violent crimes when compared to cities such as Walnut Creek and Beverly Hills.  The harsh reality, however, is that we still experience a variety of criminal activity and we have continuing public safety challenges every day. As a community, we must remain vigilant in providing a safe and secure environment for our residents, our businesses and everyone who visits our beautiful city.

When we recently initiated a community discussion about gang activity, it was our hope to educate the public about a disturbing crime trend and reassure the community that our city government and our public safety agencies have and continue to seek ongoing solutions to very complex problems.  We have outlined past strategies and we will detail

future goals and objectives to address this issue.  We are working to restore services that have been eliminated by budget reductions and we will continue to focus on comprehensive strategies that include public awareness and involvement as well as education, prevention, intervention and enforcement. In a collaborative effort involving Marin County educators and law enforcement agencies including probation and the district attorney’s office, we recently held a gang awareness and identification workshop at the Marin County Office of Education. The next training session is scheduled for March 10 at the Novato Unified School District.

We recently redoubled our efforts to combat graffiti (especially gang-related graffiti) and we welcome the response that we have received from many citizen volunteers who have stepped forward to offer their time and commitment to assist us in eliminating this senseless vandalism and blight in our community.

We remain committed to our primary mission of providing the professional delivery of quality law enforcement services to our community.  Although we continue to cope with ongoing economic difficulties, our staff will continue to seek creative opportunities to increase efficiencies and enhance services. We encourage our citizens to become engaged, and we ask that you seek to increase your awareness of criminal activities in our communities and to join us in developing solutions that will help us reduce crime and improve public safety.

— Joseph Kreins, Chief of Police

Christine March 07, 2011 at 05:11 PM
Renee, I would hardly call anyone standing up for our beautiful city a small minded person.
Renee March 07, 2011 at 05:41 PM
@Christine, oops mabey small minds, was NOT the appropriate adjative. :(
Samira Sharif March 09, 2011 at 06:00 AM
Well said Jen, I especially like the last part "I fear the impoverished living conditions for my fellow humans, poor judgement ..."
Samira Sharif March 09, 2011 at 06:21 AM
Thank you for sharing this fellow Novatan, I have dealt with many youth teenagers that did graffiti simply out of boredom and because they thought it was "cool". This is a good a community yes, I raise my child here and work 10 minutes away from my home. There is however some inclination that with all the budget cuts, overcrowded schools, unemployment, and the help of great mainstream media, bored children turn into destructive aggressors who ultimately commit crime. From that point on it's a spiral. These are indeed hard times and we need to take more caution to make sure we preserve the shine in our city, not just for our own children but the next seven generations to come....
SHROYER FOR SUPERVISOR 2014 May 10, 2011 at 05:41 AM
Novato Residents: Please be aware of the "Draino" bombs. These are chemicals put in plastic soda bottles and left on lawns etc. When picked up they can blow off a finger and contains a hot boiling liquid that can burn. Please contact the Novato Police Department for more information. If you have a Toyota Truck beware. People are stealing cat. converters and selling them on the black market. There have been over 24 of these thefts in Novato. Be safe

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