8.8.23 – KTVU – VALLEJO, Calif.
Under the proposed plan, police would respond only to verified calls that come from witnesses, manually activated panic alarms, silent robbery alarms, and video alarms that show crimes in progress. “We are not suggesting we don’t go to flat alarms at all.
“I had two neighbors who had home invasions and were on the phone with 9-1-1 and were told no one was coming. One was a 14-year-old boy, was locked in his bathroom,” said Kris Sosso, a Vallejo resident.
Most of the crowd who filled the meeting room near city hall said they’d had a break-in.
Vallejo Police Chief Jason Ta told residents the department’s patrol division only has 30 officers for the entire city.
He also said the department is authorized for 132 sworn officers, but there are 50 vacancies.
“We just don’t have the ability to respond to everything. So we are having to figure out how to respond a little more smartly,” said Chief Ta.
Police say one way to maximize resources is to stop responding to most calls from alarm security systems.
Sgt. Rashad Hollis presented three years of data from 2020 and 2022, showing that police received 10,509 alarm calls.
Sgt. Hollis said 98% of the calls were false alarms.
The chief says each call requires 2 to 4 officers. That added up to about 115 police hours, which police say could have been used instead to patrol streets or solve other crimes.
Under the proposed plan, police would respond only to verified calls that come from witnesses, manually activated panic alarms, silent robbery alarms, and video alarms that show crimes in progress.
“We are not suggesting we don’t go to flat alarms at all. We’re suggesting these false alarm rates which are taking up 115 officer hours a month that could be used in other ways to properly benefit the community,” said Chief Ta.
“We can’t afford to reduce anything in this city that has to do with safety,” said Carolyn Dyson, a Vallejo resident, saying she worries the plan would put businesses and homes in jeopardy.
Some residents said they oppose the proposal and worry it will make Vallejo a target for crime.
“If you aren’t going to an alarm, how do you know it’s a false alarm?” said Calvin Harrell, a resident.
“We would urge the department to work with California alarm association we work with a number of other jurisdictions,” said Shane Clary, who is a member of the California Alarm Association.
Marco McCleod, a resident and owner of The Grind Cafe, said small break-ins might seem minor, but are costly and making it hard to keep insurance.
“I’m really concerned about putting this out in the streets, then to criminals it is making open season in Vallejo now,” said McCleod, whose response sparked applause from the audience.
Vallejo police say they plan to have a second town hall at the end of August so more people can voice their thoughts on the proposal.