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In 2016, the City of Watsonville experienced a decrease in crime rates compared to 2015. We did not have a single homicide and robberies were reduced by 55.8%.
In 2016, the City of Watsonville experienced a decrease in crime rates compared to 2015. We did not have a single homicide and robberies were reduced by 55.8%. Both crime rates are the lowest in over a decade. Overall crime rates were significantly lower than neighboring cities in the region. When compared to 2015, the overall crime rates were down 11.3%.
“This positive decrease in crime over the past year is attributed to the excellent work of our Police Department and community partners, and highlights Watsonville as one of the safest communities in Santa Cruz County.” said Assistant City Manager, Matt Huffaker.
“The statistics show a promising trend that we hope will continue,” said Police Chief David Honda. We credit the dip in crime to changes in the police department over the last few years such as, an increased effort in prevention and intervention, hiring more police officers, building relationships and trust with the community, providing more training to our officers, using social media to help solve crimes, and replacing aging and faulty equipment. These positive trends would not have been possible without the community’s support and approval of Measure G. In June of 2014, the City Council placed Measure G on the ballot and asked the voters to approve a temporary sales tax of .5% for seven years in order to increase funding for fire and law enforcement services. The revenue generated by Measure G has allowed our police and fire departments to provide additional support and services geared at keeping our community safe.
“With the decrease in crime, we must stay vigilant and work together as a community to continue to impact these numbers. Through hard work and commitment our officers, community partners and elected officials have been able to improve the safety of our neighborhoods.” said Police Chief David Honda.
Prevention and intervention strategies have also played a big part in decreasing the crime rates over the years. City neighborhood-based prevention and education programs include neighborhood watch, National Night Out, the City’s Parks and Community Services Neighborhood Outreach programs, and neighborhood clean-ups. City prevention programs, such as the Police Activities League (PAL) help increase the bond between police officers, recreation leaders, youth and their parents through educational, athletic, and other recreational activities. With the support of Measure G, PAL was able to expand youth services by providing a Robotics Program, Homework Center, and the Bike/Hiking program among other youth activities all geared to making a positive impact on the lives of our youth.
Another successful diversion program is the Caminos hacia el Éxito program for youth who commit a misdemeanor first offense. This program is geared to holding youth accountable for their actions using case management, cognitive behavior therapy, counseling and mentoring, and pro-social activities all of which are proven to reduce juvenile delinquency and improve parenting skills and bonding.
In addition to prevention efforts, the police department is also taking a proactive approach to mental health. In April 2016, the City of Watsonville partnered with the Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust and the Santa Cruz Behavioral Health Services to create a Mental Health Liaison team, formally named the Crisis Assessment, Response, Engagement Team (CARE Team). The Team consists of Officer Angel Calderon and Mental Health worker Reina Valencia. Since its formation, the CARE Team has been able to assist hundreds of community members in obtaining needed services, referrals, or transport to proper medical facilities.
Building and fostering strong relationships with our community is very important. Our police officers are out there every day making connections and building trust. "Thank you to the men and women of the Watsonville Police Department for keeping our community safe. We’ve made a lot of progress and with help from the community, we will continue to make Watsonville a safe and desirable community." said City Manager Charles Montoya.