Responding to community alarm about two home-invasion robberies on Jan. 21 and other crimes, a report to the City Council from new Piedmont Police Chief Rikki Goede lists several steps the department is taking to increase police presence in the community.
Goede's report is intended for the next City Council meeting on Feb. 4, but City Administrator Geoffrey Grote directed that it be released early because of "the significant interest in the issue of the City’s response to these increases in crime," according to a city notice.
Goede, who took over the chief's job one day after the Jan. 21 home invasions, noted that the department's ability to respond to crime has been impaired by reduced police staffing, which is below authorized strength, a problem that could be compounded by five retirements in the department in the coming year.
The department is authorized to have 28 full-time employees, including 20 sworn officers, but is currently at only 22 full-time employees "due to a combination of retirements, disability status, and frozen positions," Goede said.
Among the steps that Goede outlined are:
—asking council authorization to "to immediately begin the process to hire ahead of known and probable vacancies within the Department to minimize gaps in patrol services"
—authorizing overtime "to backfill positions and ensure the minimum staffing is met at all times"
—increasing the number of paid reserves to five from the current two
—seeking investigative assistance on the home-invasion robberies from three other local police police agencies, including Oakland, which experienced home invasions with "similar suspect descriptions to the two committed in Piedmont"
—authorizing overtime for two officers to continue investigations on other open cases.
The chief noted also that a reward is being considered in the home-invasion cases, that two new officers are expected to begin their 4-6 month field training next month and that the department is in discussion with a vendor of license plate readers and video surveillance services.
"I want to reiterate that Piedmont remains a very safe community, however, it is not immune to the same issues facing every city in the state," she concluded.
"For this reason, community collaboration and vigilance are essential to maintaining our safety. Neighborhood Watch programs have never been more necessary, and I will be working very closely with the Public Safety Committee and the community at large to increase participation in this valuable tool. Without question, 11,000 pairs of eyes watching out for the community is better than only 20."
Goede's full staff report is attached to this article.
Piedmont is also holding a Town Hall Meeting at the Veterans Memorial Building at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12 to introduce Goede to the community and to provide a presentation about recent crime in the community and the police response.
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