Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

October 3, 2006 > Reverse burglar alarm response policy - Vote 'No' on Measure L

Reverse burglar alarm response policy - Vote 'No' on Measure L

by J. Dennis Wolfe

How does a city make policy without public input? Since we are being asked to again support another utility tax, is it too much to expect police to again respond to burglaries? After all, the decision to stop responding was made after the last utility tax was defeated. Or was it really? Let's review our facts.
In early 2004 a change to the alarm ordinance was proposed but never presented. The document is no longer available on the city's website but copies exist.
Simultaneously, a new reporting category for burglaries, known as "Other", was created. Apartments, townhouses condos and certain commercial facilities were removed from the Residential and Commercial categories and put into "Other".
In October, 2004, a new city manager was hired. Soon a document was given to the new city manager in which our police chief requested his approval to implement a new policy of not responding to burglar alarms. The chief later stated that this was his decision alone yet in this document, he asked the new city manager for approval. Copies of this document also exist.
In November 2005, we defeated Measure V, the last utility tax. The money tax was not earmarked for public safety or infrastructure.
In January, 2005, the police chief announced that he was not going to respond to burglar alarms. He said this would annually save $600,000. When asked where the cuts in the department's budget were, he clarified his previous comment and stated that he was merely reallocating the money. There was no savings.
In February 2005, at a council meeting, Council Member Dutra asked the police chief to confirm that he met individually with every council member to discuss this policy. The chief admitted that he had. This admission was a confirmation of serial meetings, a violation of open meeting laws.
In California, this is known as The Brown Act. Council Member Wieckowski immediately seemed to understand the magnitude of Council Member Dutra's comment and quickly stated that he had "No Comment".
Since then crime has gone through the roof. Yet our city manager stated at a recent breakfast meeting there would be no change in this policy - even if the new proposed utility tax was passed.
If our elected leaders promise us that they will restore police services if we pass the new utility tax, my question is what services are more important to us than our safety? That new reporting category for burglaries, created way back in 2004 and simply known as "Other," is up over 300%.
Until our elected leaders get the message that you want this "no response" policy reversed, they will, by their stubborn inaction, allow Fremont to remain a haven for criminals. They will spend these new utility tax dollars as they see fit.
Who do you trust with your money? This November, tell them. If they will not discipline themselves, you must.

Vote No on Measure L! No to Utility Taxes!
J. Dennis Wolfe

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