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Stockton PD Community-Police Partnerships Build Strong Ties

The City of Stockton has been dealt many challenges in recent years, but most recently has been hit by a triple-storm of unprecedented fiscal challenges, high amounts of violent crime, and lowered police staffing.  But even in the face of this storm, optimism has emerged.  Local stakeholders and community members have stepped up in remarkable numbers offering to work with the Stockton Police Department in the interest of public safety, and to foster better communication, trust, and collaboration.  Neighboring law enforcement agencies have stepped in to help by enhancing collaborative efforts. Difficult times bring people together, and that is beginning to make a difference in Stockton.

The Stockton Police Department, even with the challenges we face, realize we must remain committed to the philosophy of Community Policing as reflected in our Mission Statement, which is "to work in partnership with the people of Stockton to build a safe and secure community."  We do so in our ongoing vision to combat crime and focusing on four tenets – also known as “The Four P’s”:  Prediction (forecasting concepts to strategically target crime and criminals), Prevention (crime prevention and victimization reduction), Pursuit (the active enforcement and apprehension of our worst criminal offenders that commit the most crime), and Partnerships (partnerships with other law enforcement agencies and with the community in which we serve).  It is a combination of enforcement strategies, collaborative efforts with other law enforcement agencies, and community involvement and engagement. It is a balanced and blended approach.

The focus of this article is on the value of our partnerships.  During the recent economic climate, these relationships have become ever more important.  We’d like to highlight some of the following local collaborations recently implemented by the Stockton Police Department.

  • Violence Reduction Initiative.  A 2012 City Initiative was designed to make the best use of resources and technology to address rises in violent crime and to increase police-community partnerships.  Based on violence in certain hot-spots and then apparent retaliations, the Department began real-time-policing strategies to focus on a strategic and data-driven approach coupled with community input to define the neighborhood problems.  Departmental Intelligence-and-Communication-Planning (I-CAP) Meetings steered any and all available resources in the hot-spot neighborhoods in an attempt to prevent retaliatory shootings.  The concept evolved later into the current Community Response Teams (CRTs) - two teams of a group of officers policing crime hot-spots. CRT holds meetings with impacted neighborhoods to first develop relationships and define the problems, and they then follow-up with a visible police presence, proactive enforcement, and problem-solving.
  • California Highway Patrol Partnerships.  The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has increased its presence in the City of Stockton by providing officers to work in high crime areas alongside Stockton Police.  The CHP has maintained both a constant presence in the City by frequently assisting as part of our Community Response Teams, and has also contributed large numbers of officers to participate in short-term high-visibility enforcement missions.
  • The Countywide Multi-Agency Gang (MAG) Task Force was created in May of 2012 with the objective to proactively address violent gang members throughout areas of San Joaquin County.  Stockton Police and San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore kicked this task force off with the focus to remain a step ahead of emerging violent crime patterns, maintaining a central clearinghouse for gang intelligence, consolidating multijurisdictional gang investigations, and providing a countywide law enforcement presence with the message that gang violence will not be tolerated. Critical to the team’s success has been partnering with Parole and Probation. The cities of Lodi and Manteca soon joined the task force as well.  The operational model of the Gang Task Force incorporates existing investigative/intelligence, enforcement, and prosecution components, allowing the teams to work more efficiently toward their common objective of reducing gang violence.  

The Investigative/Intelligence Team of the MAG consists of the Stockton Police Gang Violence Suppression Unit Detectives, a San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office Gang Officer, San Joaquin County Probation Officers, State Parole Agents, Federal Partners, and a Stockton Police Crime Analyst.  A Prosecution Team consists of designated staff from the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office (Eastern District of California).

  • In the fall of 2012, the Countywide Community Corrections Partnership Task Force was created to address the issue of absconding parolees and probationers under AB 109 realignment. The mission of the task force is to protect the quality of life in our communities by reducing crimes committed by AB 109 offenders and promoting the work of the Community Corrections Partnership by reducing recidivism. San Joaquin County Public Safety Realignment budget funds were allocated for this task force. The idea was formulated by neighboring Lodi Police Chief Mark Helms and together with the Stockton Police Department, it was created in yet another example of a collaborative and regional approach. The task force, responsible for the entire San Joaquin County and to the needs of each community, functions as both a structured team that moves from one community to another, as well as individual officers who work within their own home agencies apart from the team.  It is comprised of one Police Sergeant from Stockton Police, who is responsible for day-to-day supervision of all members; and three Police Officers of the Lodi, Manteca, and Tracy Police Departments; and the San Joaquin County Probation Department providing two assigned Probation Officers. They focus on problematic realignment offenders.  This team is using the well-known and effective Problem-Oriented Policing (POP) model.
  • The Firearms Violence Reduction Consortium (FVRC) was created as a collaboration between the Stockton Police Department and San Joaquin County Sheriff, Probation, and District Attorney's Office to reduce gun violence throughout the County and within the City of Stockton. Funding for the FVRC comes from the Justice Assistance Grant and was used to fund joint agency overtime missions, purchase new Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) equipment, and establish a full-time Firearms Examiner position to serve the FVRC.
  • The Community Advisory Board began in November of 2012 and comprises a cross-section of the citizens of our Stockton community.  The Board was formed to create a greater avenue of communication between the community and the police department with regard to police-community relations and public trust.  The board of 24 members has open dialogue directly with the Police Chief.  The Board has developed a vision statement of: Building bridges of trust for a safe community.  Their mission is to foster better communication, trust, and collaboration between the people of Stockton and their police.
  • Expanded Communications were also implemented in the spring of 2012 to enhance community outreach and two-way communication.  Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and text-tipping now allow for increased opportunities for information sharing.  Realizing social media is not a replacement for face-to-face meetings, this new avenue has opened up additional communication to a wider audience. The Police Department has also increased the amount of public meetings and town hall forums across the City.
  • The Marshall Plan and Project Ceasefire.  In 2012, the City of Stockton began the Marshall Plan, the “marshaling” of all resources in the county to focus on the crime problem. At the discussion table have been judges, law enforcement agency heads, educators, community leaders, church leaders, social services, etc. Everyone with a stake in public safety have regularly met to problem solve Stockton and San Joaquin County crime issues. One of the top priorities out of the Marshall Plan has been the roll-out of Project Ceasefire.

    Based on the Boston Ceasefire model, a renewed Stockton Project Ceasefire began in November of 2012.  Project Ceasefire is a multi-disciplinary approach that identifies the most at-risk violent offenders.  Those identified are invited to participate in a community forum to be presented with opportunities and hear a message of consequences if they commit violence.  Community groups, service providers, and all levels of law enforcement participate in addressing those identified.  Ceasefire is a perfect example of the need for true collaborative efforts between multiple law enforcement agencies and community groups.

The Stockton Police Department realizes we are part of the greater community and that neither we, nor the community, can fight crime alone.  We believe these valuable partnerships will help as we carry out our mission of working with the people of Stockton to build a safe and secure community. In challenging times, it is amazing how many concerned groups and individuals step up to the plate and help. Embracing this help from the community, and taking even more advantage of allied law enforcement agencies in a regional approach, is necessary to provide the best public safety possible. Collaboration takes hard work on the front end, but the payoffs are big.

~ Written by Chief Eric Jones, Stockton PD (Chief Jones has been the Chief of Police in Stockton CA since 2012)
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