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Police to Debut New Street Crimes Team

Four-person unit, funded mostly by grants, will tackle ongoing problems the force otherwise hasn't been able to focus on.

With a boost from grant funding, the is close to debuting a new four-person team to focus partially on relationships with property managers at apartment complexes and other multifamily housing units with an eye on curbing street crimes.

Chief of Police Joseph Kreins said a $1.1 million grant secured earlier this year will allow a team of two officers, a corporal and a management analyst to coordinate efforts with the Marin County Major Crimes Task Force, the Cooperative Probation Enforcement team and other law enforcement agencies. The new beat, which starts in July, will not be geographically restricted within the city limits.

The three-year grant plus a commitment by the city to cover a fourth year allows the department to jump from 55 sworn officers to 58 — still below the 63 officers Novato police had as recently as five years ago.

"I would think the response from the community would be overwhelmingly positive," Kreins said. "There have been concerns about issues relating to gangs, graffiti and crime trends, so I think they'd receive this in a positive way.

"These officers are going to go out there and attack problems on a sustained basis, not just as a two-week task force. We'll be doing this for three or four years. Sustainability is the key to solving any problem."

The street crimes unit, which will be known as the Novato Response Team, will not only have a geographic free reign but also work shift flexibility.

"If we have a bunch of auto burglaries, we can put them on that ... if we have an issue with a gang, we can put them on that ... if we have problems in a particular multifamily unit, we can put them on that," Kreins said. "Their purpose is to be a problem-solving team, more directed toward ongoing chronic issues — things we haven't had the resources to get to for an extended basis."

Novato had 361 felonies committed from Jan. 1 through April 30, down from 484 the previous year. The total misdemeanors for the same time span was 949, down from 1,042 in 2011.

"Crime is down, contrary to what some people believe in our community," he said.

Kreins said he remembers meeting with former city manager Dan Keen about eight years ago when Kreins first came to Novato.

"I walked right into his office and told Dan I needed a team like this," Kreins said. "I said, 'Gimme three people and I'll be thrilled.' But that was right when the budget started to turn south on us. Now that we have it, we think it will be very successful and well-received."

Funding for the Novato Response Team will cover officer salaries and several one-time equipment purchases, the chief said.

Susan Clark June 16, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Novato has changed forever. Gone is the innocence of a small town. It's funny how city managers can make such negative changes and within 2-5 years they move on to their next town as city manager or should I say their next victim. Do you think they give a damn about the impact their decicions make? Nope, They just move on while we live with the impact!
M. Calwald June 16, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Susan I don't think Michael Frank could get another job anywhere else. What city would want him? Here is another arrest of a Wyndover resident. He can't handle Wyndover's crime and he can't handle Bay Vista's crime. He has his head in the sand and blocks it out as he relishes in his new city hall. Collins, Marjorie - (F/K) Age: 45 Map It 805 Diablo Novato , CA 94947-4068 NOT Verified Address -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Reported: 06/14/2012 by Crime Reporter: 7246 Crime Report #: 7153780 Source: Oakland PD 166(A)(4)_ Bail Amount: 00010000 Residing in Crime Beat Zone: Marin County
Edwin Drake June 18, 2012 at 05:04 AM
Perhaps if the Novato PD actually patrolled and made themselves visible, instead of hiding behind shrubs and buses and lurking to give out traffic tickets. The NPD needs to be on the street, constantly seeing and being seen. My gosh, the Westamerica Bank was robbed the other day and it's, literally, a stone throws from the police station. Where's Andy Taylor when you need him? All we have are Barney Fifes. (How many days were those kids partying at the empty house before a neighbor called? Why isn't NPD roving?)
Erin P. June 19, 2012 at 05:16 AM
Edwin, it is the city council and Michael Frank who are "handcuffing" the police. Our spineless politicians are not addressing our crime problems and cutting police services from our budget, yet wasting money everywhere they possibly can. It would be nice to get some former LAPD to join our forces who have worked in the inner city and could help us. The police are doing what they can, but have to spend too much time at Hamilton and Diablo and Center.
Carol June 22, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Not "easily visible"?!? Really?!? I'd say it was "visible" which is why they broke in to your car. Bummer - I wonder, were you using that phone before you got out of the car? Or did you you move it to a not "easily visible" place before you exited your car? These thugs sit in the parking lots stalking everyone...that's how they target us. Unfortunately, we have to be more vigilant and on the defense...the thugs are here, and not going anywhere.

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