How Do We Provide the Best Possible Police and Neighborhood Services?
One of Fremont’s strongest assets is our low crime rate. Fremont’s Police Department does an excellent job despite have one of the lowest rates of officers per 1,000 people. We need to make sure that our police have the resources they need to continue this excellent tradition.
Before moving to Fremont 19 years ago I researched crime statistics and found that Fremont had one of the lowest crime rates in the Bay Area. In 2014, Fremont placed second nationally as far as being the safest city in the country. In another similar survey in 2015 we came in third. Given the number of cities there are in the country, this is an amazing achievement. A recent community survey showed that Fremont residents do not put crime very high in their list of concerns. We are indeed a safe city and many people move here for that reason.
Of course, the last thing we should do is be complacent about this. We need to make sure that our police officers have the resources to do their job well. The City Council has been approving more officers to be on the force in recent years as our budget continues to improve. We need to continue these efforts.
The Nixle system is an excellent way for police departments across the country to notify their residents of what’s happening in their community. These notices can be urgent ones about street closures or active crimes, or a summary of recent activity. You can sign up to receive these at the location below.
Coffee With the Cops
Another way the police have done an excellent job interacting with the community is the “Coffee With the Cops” program. These are informal gatherings of police officers and community members at a local café. A recent one of these events was focused on traffic and drew quite a large crowd.
Anyone watching the national news has heard about negative relations between the police and the community they serve in many parts of the country. I’m proud to say that none of these stories apply to Fremont. Despite having a very ethnically diverse population that speaks many different languages, we simply don’t have those problems here.
One of the more controversial issues related to our police department is the use of cameras to solve crimes. While there are a few who raise privacy concerns, the majority of people do not mind the increased use of cameras in their neighborhood.
A number of neighborhoods have acted on their own in creating a camera system to track vehicles and people coming in and out of their neighborhood. If there is an incident the neighborhood can decide to share any relevant video with the police. Not surprisingly, most neighborhood organizations are happy to do this if they feel it will help catch any perpetrators.
My opinion is that one does not have an expectation of privacy when they are using public roads or sidewalks. Indeed, there is nothing illegal about any member of the public taking photos of people walking or driving around public streets. The cameras that are being used in this regard are only focused on taking pictures of public rights-of-way.
One project that was recently done was to install cameras and license plate readers on the main exit and entry points into the City. When a major crime is committed within Fremont, the perpetrators will most likely be trying to leave the City as quickly as possible. Thus, it’s very helpful to the police to have this information.
Overall, there is strong evidence that the use of cameras can be an effective crime-fighting tool.
In 2014, the City enacted an ordinance banning the outdoor growth of Marijuana. The police and neighbors made a strong case that these ‘grow houses’, homes where the lot is used solely to grow Marijuana, were a public nuisance due to the smell and criminal activity they create.
In 2016, the ordinance was expanded to include indoor growth. The 2014 ordinance simply moved the grow houses indoors and the problem persisted. This ordinance was passed unanimously.
I’m generally liberal on issues like this. However, these grow houses are a real problem. I’ve also heard from school officials that the use of Marijuana by our high school students is a big problem. I felt the solution offered by the police was a good one. There are no new criminal penalties as a result of this ordinance. If someone is found to be in violation, they simply must correct the problem by removing the Marijuana.
There may be a Statewide ballot measure on the ballot this November regarding the legalization of Marijuana. It’s possible our ordinances may need to be amended if this passes.
One of the problems residents have complained about is homelessness in Fremont. It is indeed becoming more prevalent in our community. I am a strong supporter of groups like Abode Services that have done an excellent job in getting people out of homelessness. They not only focus on getting people off the streets and into shelters. They work on the core issues that can cause people to be homeless.
We also must address the affordable housing issue which I discuss here.
Personal note: In Chicago my father was the victim of an assassination attempt. In order to allow him to carry a concealed firearm, he was made a Deputy Sheriff of Cook County. I still proudly have the badge that was given him.