What are today’s challenges in keeping Ventura safe?
by Police Chief Ken Corney
Ventura Police Department
In these times of “instant communication” we are often aware in real time of criminal acts that occur around the country. In my experience, however, people are most concerned about their sense of safety and security impacted by crime that occurs in their own neighborhoods. It is understandably disturbing when your neighborhood experiences a residential burglary, theft from cars, or vehicles being stolen. Compared to around five years ago, Ventura has experienced double-digit percentage increases in these crimes that all too often affect our local neighborhoods. Our crime fighting team knows these crime increases are not just numbers, but represent individual victims harmed by violence and loss throughout our city where we live, the places we enjoy and the schools our children attend.
Our response to this growth of reported crime is challenged by increased calls for all categories of service, including quality of life issues such as the impacts of vagrancy in our community. Last year (2015) our police department handled nearly 98,000 calls for service, compared with just over 78,000 calls five years ago. And our police staffing today is essentially at the same level it was in 1999. Understandably, this limits our ability to provide proactive patrols in neighborhoods experiencing increased crime and to direct resources to follow-up investigative efforts.
As necessary resources become available, the police department has developed a growth plan to address some of the most critical issues our neighborhoods and community face today. Key elements of the plan include:
Enhanced patrol response efforts in order to focus on high crime areas and improve response times to in progress crimes and other emergencies.
Re-implementation of our Gang Violence Suppression Team strategies to provide proactive response to the impact of gangs in our community, including enforcement, intervention and prevention efforts.
Officers dedicated to focus on investigating reports of drug sales in our neighborhoods throughout our community.
Reinvest resources in our Traffic Safety team to keep our roadways safe around our neighborhoods and schools.
Expand our safe and clean efforts to provide officers dedicated to the downtown tourism areas most impacted by vagrancy and related quality of life issues.
Provide greater resources to our investigative division in order to increase our ability to solve more crime within an environment of increased caseloads and complex investigations.
Despite the challenges, I can assure you the men and women of the Ventura Police Department continue to work diligently to reduce harm in our community through innovative and effective approaches to achieve our five core goals of: Crime Control, Team Development, Active Community Partnerships, Safe Neighborhoods and Efficiency and Accountability. More information on how we will work to accomplish these goals can be found in our Strategic Plan document at Venturapd.org
Finally, I want to take a moment to thank the Ventura community for the support demonstrated by so many during this extremely difficult time for our profession. The support, outreach and kindness demonstrated towards our officers by so many Venturans has had a very positive impact on the brave men and women who serve this community. We are deeply appreciative and look forward to your continued support and our continued service to this community.