Tracy is safe, but it could be safer, according to reports the Tracy City Council heard Tuesday night from its top public safety officials.
Police Chief David Krauss said his department still would like to have a few extra officers, one who could patrol Tracy’s downtown and at least two for the investigations division. He is also prepared to start video surveillance as a pilot project in Gretchen Talley Park.
“We’ve just recently reached the stage where we’ve filled all of our vacancies and now we’re moving to overhiring,” he said. The department has added six officers since. The officers added through “overhiring” would give officers time to work on traffic enforcement, crime suppression and problem-solving, in addition to response to calls.
The meeting is part of a new council effort to stay up to date on public safety in town. The city also addressed the issue last week with a workshop on the city’s Youth Community Support Network, which replaces the city’s anti-gang task force.
As part of last night’s meeting, Krauss said that the six officers hired in the last year in response to a 2005 efficiency study bring the department to full staffing. But he added that the six-member investigations division still hasn’t grown, even though it could use at least two more detectives to be fully staffed.
The City Council was pleased with Krauss’ report that among California cities of more than 75,000 residents, Tracy is the 17th safest city in the state.
“I think you have accurately read my feeling and the feeling of the council that you want to get ahead of the curve,” Councilwoman Evelyn Tolbert told Krauss.
It wasn’t a universal view. While Krauss and the council talked about making downtown safer, Tracy businessman Bob Sarvey, who has a shoe store on Grant Line Road near Tracy Boulevard, said he sees plenty of crime, drugs, vandalism and graffiti in his neighborhood.
“I don’t know if we’re different from the rest of the city,” he said, adding that gang graffiti alone testifies to more than a mere gang presence. “I don’t accept the statement that we don’t have a gang problem. Come around to my back door and you’ll see the most painted wall in Tracy.
“I see them all day long selling drugs, and I see them at El Pescadero Park selling drugs. I don’t think we should be in denial about that.”
There wasn’t much public response to Krauss’ report. Retired police Capt. Mike Maciel emphasized video surveillance of parks, park and ride lots, and downtown. He also recommended that the city use the latest electronic technology to bring private video surveillance into the police station.
“The technology is there to really meet the city’s needs,” Maciel said. “The potential is there with in-car cameras for it to be monitored by the command center and also by other officers responding. This would be tremendous for officer safety.”
The council also heard from Fire Department Chief Chris Bosch, who highlighted statistics that showed growth in the department and high standards for response times to emergencies.
Bosch said his goals for the next couple of years include increasing “advanced life support” capabilities for all of the department’s seven stations. He said that three of them have that capability now.
He also intends to increase staffing to at least three firefighters per station around the clock. The department’s Banta station and Hansen Road station both have only two firefighters per shift now.
To reach reporter Bob Brownne, call 830-4227 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.