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December 23, 2009 > Community gathers for 'Coffee with Cops'

Community gathers for 'Coffee with Cops'

By Miriam G. Mazliach
Photos By Miriam G. Mazliach

Coffee with conversation and cookies, (sorry no donuts), was the setting at Mission Coffee Roasting Company for an informal 'meet and greet' by the Fremont Police Department on December 16. Interested members of the community were in attendance and the large crowd filled the popular coffee spot to capacity.

Fremont Police Chief Craig Steckler, Captain Rich Lucero, police officers, police staffers and volunteers were there to answer questions, concerns and in general, interact with the public.

This was the second in a series of police/public meetings; the first was recently held in Niles and an additional meeting is being planned within the next few months.

"Community meetings are important," says Chief Steckler. "Today is an opportunity for us to meet on a more local level and find out from the community about their concerns and what we can do to help. I encourage residents to become involved in Neighborhood Watch programs which are very helpful. Currently there are about 850 of these groups in Fremont," says Chief Steckler.

"We will come out to any neighborhood and help set up a Neighborhood Watch," added Geneva Bosques, Fremont Police Department's Community Engagement Manager. "We can coordinate with the right resources and organizations that will be of assistance to your area."

Asked how the Fremont Police Department will cope in 2010, in light of budget cuts it has experienced, Chief Steckler responded, "It's a systemic problem and can't be solved at the city level. The state has to restructure finances. In short, cuts from cities, translates into broad cuts for the Police Department. But, I don't anticipate any more Police Department reductions."

Local residents approached various police department representatives to get answers to their questions or express their concerns. Kevin Zhou, spoke with Chief Steckler about cars being broken into in the Mission Neighborhoods. Although, the crime rate in the neighborhood is relatively low, based on the crime statistics provided by the police department, auto burglaries went up from 38 in 2008 to 51 incidents in 2009.

Residents were cautioned not to leave valuables or personal items visible in automobiles. With the reduction of police personnel to respond to minor crimes, residents are asked to file an online incident report these days. CARE members, citizen volunteers who undergo 8 - 9 weeks of training, may assist the police department on certain cases, to enable officers to be available for more serious crimes.

Stopping by to show his support for the police department was Lance Byard, "I wanted to make sure the people are well represented. I'm involved with a Neighborhood Watch program."

A group of concerned citizens from Luzon Drive near Antelope Hills came to discuss the graffiti re-occurrences in the property behind the historic Hirsch home that has been the object of taggers. The neighbors get paint from the Recycling Center to paint over any graffiti. They want it known that their Neighborhood Watch group is very active, and they are reporting suspicious activities and automobiles to the police.

Captain Rich Lucero discussed the online reporting system as being part of prioritization. "Public entities are in the same economic environment as everyone else. The reality is resources dictate how comprehensive services are. The downturn affects all of us."

"The idea is you don't want the perception of crime to be more than its actuality," says Captain Lucero. "Our community needs to have an accurate perception of the amount of crime. Fremont remains a safe city and still one of the safest nation-wide," he states. "Our citizens need to have an accurate understanding of that."

Fremont is now using the CodeRED system to tap into emergency and non-emergency community alerts, via land-line, cell phone, text or email. To register for this free notification call (510) 284-4092 or go to www.Fremont.gov/Community Alert.

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