The 2018 annual report on the work of Yucaipa Police Department was highlighted during the city council meeting on May 13. Sergeant Dan Whitten presented the report, which included statistics to show an overall reduction in crime over the past year in Yucaipa. Whitten also described current and future developments for the police department.
First, the bad news: Traffic incidents in the past year included four fatal collisions and 66 DUI cases. Traffic violations involving people under the influence of substances other than alcohol were counted in the DUI statistic.
“Thankfully, we aren’t a DUI heavy town,” said Whitten.
Traffic citations had a “big boost,” increasing by 33 percent. Whitten advised drivers to slow down and be sure to follow traffic rules to keep everyone safe. The police department obtained $26,574 in grants to improve traffic safety and decrease cases of DUI.
Councilmember Dick Riddell expressed his opinion that the Wildwood area should no longer be included in the police report.
“That would make the city stats look that much better, because I think they should be separate,” Riddell said.
Now, the good news: The average police response time in Yucaipa is 4 minutes and 25 seconds, quite a bit quicker than the national average response time of 9 minutes and 35 seconds. Last year property crime decreased by 11 percent; overall crime reduced by 6 percent. Whitten described Yucaipa as a “very safe community” compared to cities of a similar size and with comparable demographics, particularly in the state of California.
Whitten also described the difference between Part 1 and Part 2 crimes, as depicted in the graphs. He defined Part 2 crimes as “less serious” offenses such as fraud, drug violations, and disturbing the peace, which are now included in statistical reports along with Part 1 crimes, which include offenses such as homicide, theft, and arson.
A significant accomplishment for the Yucaipa Police Department was 80 percent voluntary compliance for the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program, a partnership with property managers, owners, landlords, and residents to make rental properties a safer living environment for tenants.
Whitten also thanked Yucaipa Station volunteers for their 35,500 hours of service to the police department. Volunteer activity increased, despite decreased membership during the past year. YPD formed a behavioral health partnership with social workers as well, to assist individuals who commit crimes due to mental health issues.
“Ideally, the police department doesn’t have to be called for cases that are more of a mental health issue,” Whitten said.
YPD recently reestablished Coffee with a Cop, a program that brings together citizens and police officers to discuss questions and concerns in a casual setting, over a cup of coffee.
City Manager Ray Casey approved of the program. “All of that is a way to advance and leverage community involvement,” he said.
To advance community involvement even further, Whitten noted intentions to increase the use of social media for two-way communication between the police department and the community. YPD’s Facebook page increased followers from 2,000 to 7,000 over the past year. YPD also frequently updates their Twitter page with crime alerts, photographs, and community events.
A future technological development for the police department is to add automated license plate readers to cameras at intersections. The license plate readers are meant to assist the police with crimes such as speeding, vehicle theft, and missing persons. According to Whitten, the cameras currently in place at intersections have been helpful for capturing videos of collisions and theft, including an armed robbery of the AT&T store on Yucaipa Boulevard in July 2018.
Mayor Bobby Duncan thanked Whitten for an excellent report.
“The dynamic of the police department has changed, and I’m very pleased with the changes I’ve seen,” Duncan said.