Manteca sees slight de­crease in crime in 2018

The Modesto Bee (Sunday) - - Local - BY WES BOW­ERS The Stock­ton Record

The ma­jor­ity of crimes com­mit­ted in Manteca saw a slight de­crease in 2018, but what Po­lice Chief Jodie Es­tarziau is most proud of is that there were no homi­cides last year.

It was the fifth year since 1985 that the Manteca Po­lice Depart­ment did not in­ves­ti­gate any mur­ders. There were five homi­cides in 2017.

“It would (be) nice to say this was a con­tri­bu­tion to the ad­di­tional proac­tive ap­proach to crime re­duc­tion made by our gang and street crimes unit,” she said. “But you never know what the cir­cum­stances of a homi­cide could be. A homi­cide could be a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in­ci­dent. We just can’t pre­dict the causes, or in what ar­eas of a city crimes like this may oc­cur.”

The Manteca Po­lice Depart­ment in re­cent years merged its Gang and Street Crimes units due to bud­get de­creases, but Es­tarziau said the down­siz­ing did not di­min­ish the depart­ment’s ef­forts to fight crime.

Along with the de­crease in homi­cides, Esatrziau said she was pleased there were de­creases in ag­gra­vated as­saults, res­i­den­tial bur­glar­ies and auto bur­glar­ies.

The depart­ment’s yearto-date sta­tis­tics on its web­page are only cur­rent through Novem­ber, and De­cem­ber stats with up­dated an­nual to­tals should be on­line in the com­ing days, she said.

But through Novem­ber, res­i­den­tial bur­glar­ies were down from 161 in 2017 to 150 in 2018, and auto bur­glar­ies were down from 468 in 2017 to 430 in 2018.

Novem­ber’s num­bers in­di­cate ag­gra­vated as­saults were up from 100 in 2017 to 110 last year, but Es­tarziau said the an­nual to­tals will re­flect the de­crease in those in­ci­dents.

One area of con­cern for her, how­ever, was the in­crease in com­mer­cial bur­glar­ies. In 2017, po­lice re­sponded to 96 in­ci­dents through Novem­ber, and by Novem­ber of 2018 they re­sponded to 147.

Grand thefts and ve­hi­cle thefts also saw large in­creases, with the for­mer ris­ing from 125 to 168, and the lat­ter see­ing a surge from 294 to 334.

His­tor­i­cally, the depart­ment has seen in­creases in those types of crimes

spo­rad­i­cally, Es­tarziau said. Since 1985, there were spikes in the 1990s and early 2000s, she said.

“Crime rates go up and down, de­pend­ing on how the econ­omy is go­ing,” she said. “Right now, it’s an em­ployee’s mar­ket. When peo­ple are work­ing, they can pay bills and af­ford things to get by. But when they aren’t work­ing, it makes things dif­fi­cult, and some peo­ple turn to un­for­tu­nate av­enues to get by.”

Es­tarziau said the ad­di­tion of a new crime an­a­lyst could bet­ter help the depart­ment keep thefts and bur­glar­ies down.

“We are look­ing at those kinds of crimes and try­ing to de­ter­mine a pat­tern of where they are oc­cur­ring and why,” she said. “But, right now, we have no crime an­a­lyst to take that task on full-time, so ev­ery­one in the depart­ment is sort of try­ing to do that here and there.”

The depart­ment lost its crime an­a­lyst to the re­ces­sion in 2007. The po­si­tion was merged with records, Es­tarziau said, but since that time the depart­ment has not been able to com­pletely break down pat­terns and trends.

She said she is plan­ning to ask the Manteca City Coun­cil to re­in­state the po­si­tion as part of the 2019-20 bud­get, along with an ad­di­tional po­si­tion in the in­ves­ti­ga­tions unit, and a short-term pa­trol in­ves­ti­ga­tion po­si­tion.

The depart­ment is bud­geted for 73 sworn of­fi­cers, and there are cur­rently three va­can­cies, she said.

“We run a lit­tle lean com­pared to other cities with a pop­u­la­tion of 81,000 ( peo­ple),” she said. “But I’d like to beef up our pa­trols and add per­son­nel. And we do have of­fi­cers in train­ing that, hope­fully, we can use one day.”

Look­ing to 2019, Es­tarziau said new tech­nolo­gies re­cently ac­quired by the depart­ment also will con­trib­ute to keep­ing


crimes at a min­i­mum.

Those tech­nolo­gies in­clude a city-wide sur­veil­lance cam­era sys­tem that boasts some 32 lenses in­stalled at var­i­ous lo­ca­tions aimed at im­prov­ing pub­lic safety.

In ad­di­tion, the depart­ment ac­quired a li­cense plate recog­ni­tion cam­era sys­tem that will al­low of­fi­cers to bet­ter re­cover stolen cars and lo­cate au­tos as­so­ci­ated with kid­nap­pings, miss­ing per­sons and other ve­hi­clere­lated crimes.

“Polic­ing is chal­leng­ing,” she said. “But we’ve built a re­ally good re­la­tion­ship with the com­mu­nity.

“Through our part­ner­ships with busi­nesses and res­i­dents, we’ve been able to build a trust and solve crimes to­gether.”

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