United 4 Safety

This year, the San Leandro Police Department launched its new public safety marketing campaign, United 4 Safety. This crime prevention initiative is aimed at reducing crime and improving the quality of life through increased community involvement in public safety. The program’s main focus is community engagement, education, and technology enhancement. United 4 Safety aims to foster public safety involvement from the 86,000 members of the San Leandro community.  Through the program, the San Leandro Police Department aims to successfully transform the community into an extension of the police department. The department maintains a “no tolerance” approach to crime, despite being situated next to one of the most violent cities in the US, and hopes that this approach will be reinforced through community involvement.

As many police departments know, community engagement can be a daunting task. Just ask Captain Ed Tracey with the San Leandro Police Department. Before transferring to San Leandro a little over a year ago, Captain Tracey spent 19 years with the Oakland Police Department, “I went to middle school in San Leandro as a kid. The community demographics then, versus now, are completely different.” According to the most recent census study, the Bay Area tops the Nation in diversity in which San Leandro ranked fifth. “Times are changing, our community is changing, and we need to change with it,” Captain Tracey stressed.

United 4 Safety addresses these needs. Captain Tracey explains, “United as a community, we've taken multiple platforms of communication and launched a targeted public safety campaign, designed to not only educate the community, but to get them excited about public safety.  Whether you work, live or play in San Leandro, you can play a significant part in our crime reduction efforts.”

Realizing that what might work for one demographic will not necessarily work for another did not come to the San Leandro Police Department overnight. Under the leadership of Chief Sandra Spagnoli, the Department has been able to transform multiple community programs that have been in place for some time. National Night Out is a program that has been in existence since 1984, and though it brings its own success, the San Leandro Police Department realized that they need to establish a more everyday presence. United 4 Safety is a year-round campaign, operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The program exists to combat crime through community reporting of suspicious activity, the securing of personal property, the purchasing of alarm and video monitoring, and creating a sentiment of no tolerance for crime and disorder.  “Since the kick off, we have seen an increase in the reporting of suspicious behavior, which has made the greatest impact on burglary and robbery arrests” Captain Tracey said.

Programs such as Coffee with the Cops, Citizens Academy, Teen Academy, Chief’s Advisory Board, Crime Free, and Neighborhood

Watch have also contributed to the department’s increased success in the community.  However, the Department does not want to limit itself to these in-person programs. The San Leandro Police Department also connects with the community virtually through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Nixle, Nextdoor and CodeRed all of which allow the Department to reach a larger, more diverse demographic.

A newly designed smartphone application will place the police department at the fingertips of anyone with a smart phone. In addition, the recent registration of home and business video cameras will reduce the time police spend looking for community members who have such cameras. “If we know who has private video cameras in town, we can check this database to determine if the camera captured something that would assist investigators in solving the crime. We have had great success from private cameras which have captured useful information to help us solve crime, and this system will help us quickly locate private cameras” said Captain Tracey.

“We are able to reach more citizens quicker and more efficiently” Captain Tracey explains, “We’ve seen a significant increase in participation on Facebook and Twitter. When the Chief posts something to her Twitter feed, people respond. It’s that personable touch that has made our virtual programs a success.”

The San Leandro Police Department held its Second Annual Open House on Saturday, July 27, 2013. This year the Department added a Safety Faire, with community vendors offering a variety of services including; home and personal security, hardware stores, public safety agencies and social service agencies. The purpose of the Open House event was for the community to meet one-on-one with their police department, all while promoting the United 4 Safety program. The day was focused around community involvement and included demonstrations from the Police Department’s Traffic, K9 and SWAT units. Donations were received from many local businesses and used as incentives for citizens to sign up for the CodeRed and Nixle programs. In addition, the department utilized crime prevention funding to distribute reusable grocery bags, t-shirts, and other items all labeled with United 4 Safety- San Leandro. As citizens were asked to be committed to safety, they were issued a window sticker for their home or business. Just like the old “Block Parent” sign or an alarm sign, a United 4 Safety sticker indicates a commitment to community safety and a warning to would-be-criminals to stay away.

“I am really looking forward to driving down the street and seeing United 4 Safety bumper, and window stickers, and more importantly, knowing that our citizens have made the pledge to make San Leandro a safer community,” added Captain Tracey.  

If you would like to request any additional information on how you can start your own United 4 Safety program in your city. P[email protected] or (510) 577-3249 or visit http://www.sanleandro.org/depts/pd/

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