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Public Safety Committee Agrees to Disagree



July 25, 2012 Meeting


By Hatfield McCoy

For the last two meetings only one person has shown from the general public to speak at the community forum portion of the Ad Hoc Public Safety Committee. That speaker’s concerns surrounded the egregious situation of squatters in vacant, foreclosed homes. As so many have said before, the city council, and/or public safety departments should enforce an ordinance which would legally fine the banks. “We need a property regulation ordinance to be effective the minute a pre notice of default is issued. This city absolutely needs to become more responsive,” the speaker pleaded.


The very fact that only one speaker appeared inspired Committee member Tweedy to ask again that a public survey be distributed giving the general public an opportunity to tell the committee what changes they would like to see in public safety. In a similar vein, Committee member Karol Heppe asked that the meetings be taken out into the community. Heppe suggested that there could be a meeting held in a public place in the northern, southern, eastern and western districts of town. Further, with respect to the community forum, Committee member Beistel asked that the forum be placed later in the meeting, as opposed to the first portion of the meeting as it stands now. The committee as a whole rejected all three ideas. They politely agreed to disagree. There will be no public survey, the public forum will remain at the beginning of the meeting, and there will be no road show. All meetings will remain at City Hall council chambers at 555 Santa Clara St. in downtown Vallejo. (So get the word out and tell people to come down at 6:30 to make suggestions, expound upon complaints, or merely to compliment the committee members for their time and energy.)

The most recent meetings have mostly centered around the current practices in both the Vallejo police and fire departments. For example, the police stated that they are now using a brand new updated mobile device app. called Nixle. They have city-wide cameras in place which are monitored by volunteers at all times. The central police station lobby is now open Monday through Thursday 9:30a.m. to 5p.m. (These hours had been drastically reduced during the last three years due to the city’s bankruptcy---so things are looking up.) The police department is also in the process of reconfiguring their entire web page. The committee had many suggestions for the public to be able to better understand it. “Ask someone like me who is not that computer savvy to review it before it is finalized. We must make certain we can navigate it,” said Committee Chair Joanne Schivley. Committee member (Police Sergeant) Sid DeJesus offered the direct numbers for the records department if someone is looking for a police report:

(707) 648-4491 or 648-4447.

Between August 8th to the 20th the police department will be taking applications for their Citizen’s Academy volunteer program. If anyone is interested in volunteering, or knows someone who would be, call Officer Jeff Bassett at 648-4574 for an application or more information. Some of the duties include Citizens on Patrol, monitoring cameras, parade volunteers, traffic DUI stop checks, data entry, etc. Sgt. DeJesus also has given an overview of the Crime Free program through the Vallejo Housing Authority which proves very good for property managers in general. He further boasted that the department of police has recently received letters of commendation for the good work they are doing in conjunction with the other safety officers at Discovery Kingdom. Committee member DeJesus gave an overview of a recent three week period: 132 arrests, 5 armed robberies, 4 guns confiscated, 1 copper wire theft, 5 assaults with a deadly weapon, and 2 fatal incidents. He recommends that people call the non-emergency number at 552-3285 if you need police assistance, and the matter is not life threatening. Sgt. DeJesus also gave his private number: 648-4696 if anyone has questions or wants to file a formal complaint. (DeJesus is the Internal Affairs officer who initially reviews citizen’s complaints, and determines whether or not they should go to the District Attorney’s office.)

The Vallejo Fire Dept. has stated that they have just received a grant to update their rescue equipment. They are implementing an electronic patient care report, an electronic initial contact report all of which will save tremendous staff time. “There is more time involved in a fire than people realize,” Committee member & firefighter Pat Dunn said, “there is usually at least three hours after a fire which includes clean up, mop up, boarding up, and waiting to make absolutely certain the flames do not rekindle. All of that takes time and patience,” he continued. Dunn also gave an overview of the Emergency Medical Service. He said that in the year 2000 an EMS cooperative was formed. The VFD now has an exclusive agreement with Medic Ambulance. Once a call comes in the VFD has just seven minutes to get to the scene. Both the truck and ambulance is dispatched. The ambulance has 12 minutes within the city limits, and 15 minutes outside of the city limits. The budget for this is $670,000 per year. He explained that 28% of the calls are trauma calls, and 9% are crime related. All other calls fall into the category of general medical issues. Dunn further stated that of all of the seven cities in Solano County, Vallejo gets 48% of the calls.

With respect to training, there is an Incident Command System training which all medic ambulance staff must receive. They also provide community training such as CPR at the Senior Center, etc. They hold casualty drills from time to time such as earthquake drills they call: “Solano Shakes.” Furthermore, they have recently instituted automated external fibulators to help heart and respiratory patients. They hope to place them in strategic places throughout the city noting that the Vallejo Housing Authority would like to have one available in their offices.

As noted before, the committee has formed sub-committees in the areas of Finance, Operations and Communications. There will be more details of their findings in future articles. The August 8th meeting will be about Internal Affairs featuring the Solano County District Attorney, Don DuBain, and Curtis Cardwell from his department. On August 22 the discussion will surround ‘Citizens Review Committees’ and on September 5th, there will be a presentation by our new interim police chief who recently took over for Chief Nichelini.

According to the current Assistant City Manager Craig Whittom, the final committee written reports will be due on September 19th. “At that time we will know whether or not we shall need to extend the time of our study,” said Committee Chair Schivley. If anyone has any concerns, complaints, suggestions or comments at all, please come to the community forum portion of the next meeting on August 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the City Hall Council chambers. If you cannot make the meeting, send written comments to Ad Hoc Public Safety Committee 555 Santa Clara St., Vallejo, Ca. 94590. Or check them out on the Vallejo city’s web page. And remember, all meetings are aired on television on cable channel 28 and repeated again during the week. Check your local listings for repeat performances.