Work Remains, but Redding Civic Leaders say Progress on the Public Safety Front is Significant

While there’s plenty left to do, Redding has made significant progress in improving public safety.

That was one of the takeaways Wednesday from a special Redding City Council meeting intended to update the community on various public safety initiatives and provide residents with an opportunity to address the council.

Police Chief Roger Moore, now with four months’ experience as Redding’s top cop, said a lot of the credit for public safety improvements goes to the four-member Neighborhood Police Unit (NPU), a quartet of officers given the time and resources to “go after the worst of the worst.”

Sgt. Chris Smyrnos, right, and members of the Neighborhood Police Unit. Photos by Jon Lewis.

A veteran officer who was promoted four months ago to replace Rob Paoletti, Moore said his marching orders included a focus on “quality of life” issues facing the city: drug use, vandalism and property crimes. “I want people to get out of their car and make it to Safeway without being accosted,” Moore said.

Toward that end, the NPU has been busy, patrolling on foot, bike and in cruisers and focusing their efforts on the downtown area, Hilltop Drive businesses, parks and the Sacramento River Trail. Redding police officers have also coordinated with the Sheriff’s Department, the Shasta County Probation Department and the District Attorney to conduct citywide crime sweeps.

Freed from having to respond to the daily onslaught of calls, members of the NPU have been able to focus on well-known trouble spots, including downtown hotels like the now-closed Redding Inn and the Ponderosa. The results of their efforts are impressive. From January 2016 through this November, Moore said the NPU has made 1,229 arrests; contacted 961 probationers, 161 parolees, 165 former inmates released through AB 109; dealt with 29 gang members; seized 5.8 pounds of methamphetamine and 10.4 pounds of heroin; and confiscated 55 weapons.

Police Chief Roger Moore.

Moore also defended his department’s focus on clearing out illegal homeless encampments. In addition to generating human waste and garbage, often in sensitive riparian areas adjacent to the Sacramento River, the camps become breeding grounds for criminal behavior. “We find needles and weapons, and that’s why we go after camps,” Moore said.

Officer Bob Brannon, the “superstar cleanup” director and his crew have removed 227,000 pounds of trash from illegal camps this year, Moore said. In a related note, City Attorney Barry DeWalt said the city now gives camp residents a two-day notice that the encampment will be cleared out; the city used to provide a seven-day warning, but many residents complained that a week was too long to wait.

Additional public safety initiatives expected to be active soon include a program to equip officers with Narcan, a nasal spray that can counteract a potentially fatal opioid overdose. “We will have the ability to save some lives,” Moore said.

A community education committee also is in the works, Moore said. The committee will allow the public to gain a better understanding of what police do and why. Police also are coordinating with the District Attorney’s office to free up a prosecutor who can focus on “quality of life” cases.

Sheriff Tom Bosenko said the county has asked the Board of State and Community Corrections to adjust the Shasta County Jail’s housing capacity rating. If successful and the rating is increased, Bosenko said the jail will be able to add as many as 160 additional beds. The increase will cost an additional $500,000 to $600,000 a year, the sheriff said.

Sheriff Tom Bosenko.

Tracee Mann was among the 10 audience members to address the council and she said she represented several concerned parents upset with deteriorating conditions at South City Park where her daughter plays softball. Between homeless encroachments at the park and nearby Redding Library, Mann said she now takes her daughter to McDonald’s restaurant to use the bathroom.

Terri Moravec encouraged residents to engage in Neighborhood Watch programs and educate themselves on strategies they can use to stop property crimes before they happen. She also urged the council to create a fulltime funded position to oversee Neighborhood Watch programs. Community Service Officers used to perform that role, she said.

Terri Moravec encouraged more participation in the Neighborhood Watch program.

Parkview neighborhood resident Susan Weiss thanked the council and Moore for the steps already taken. “I appreciate what you’ve done. My quality of life has definitely improved,” she said.

Dale Ball, one of the organizers of a failed campaign to recall council members Francie Sullivan and Kristen Schreder, also thanked the council for making a concerted effort to interact with the community and beginning to make inroads on the public safety issues confronting Redding. “Problems are now being addressed, and as a citizen I appreciate that,” Ball said.

Mayor Brent Weaver said he was encouraged by a sentiment of optimism and he attributed much of it to the willingness of City Manager Barry Tippin and Moore (who are both relatively new at their positions) to “shake things up.”

While acknowledging that Redding continues to deal with significant deficiencies, Weaver said it’s important to keep things in perspective. “We can’t lose sight of the good things,” he said. In addition, both the city of Redding and Shasta County have to avoid “going along just to get along” and challenge each other to find solutions to the ongoing public safety issues.

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.
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14 Responses

  1. Beverly Stafford says:

    Thanks, Jon. A wee ray of hope here.

  2. Judith E. Salter says:

    Thanks Jon- i remain concerned that all the efforts appear to be moving groups around the city. No mention was made last night about mental health treatment nor housing options. When a camp is broken up, people just move. The NPU is very effective and that was great news

  3. Leslie R says:

    This is great news! A huge thank you to all the officers putting their lives on the line everyday and may God bless them and keep them safe!!

  4. Marcia Greene says:

    John Lewis, I am always grateful for your reporting. I very much miss your brand of journalism with today’s Record Searchlight. Always fairly presented.

  5. Tim says:

    Thanks Jon!

    I was disappointed that, aside from shifting inmate schedules to slightly increase the existing County Jail’s rated capacity, the council pooh poohed any push for a new City Jail or work camp. While great that the NPU is not letting street criminals get too comfortable, they’re still being released in a matter of hours (how many of those 1200 arrests were repeat customers?).

  6. Mike Jones says:

    Can you imagine your full-time job being, as is officer Bob’s (Bob Brannon) cleaning up after these vagrants? 227,000 pounds of refuse, every imaginable kind of refuse, physically picked up and placed in a trailer and then taken to the disposal yard?

    Your helpers are work-release prisoners, and the conversational level throughout the day is reflected by the lifestyles of people who have a criminal history. Your contact with your “customers” is always a bit dicey, as they may be felons, mentally ill, drunk or drugged and almost never are you greeted with a welcoming smile.

    Soggy wet clothes, blankets, and tarps, intermixed with the “hardware of the homeless” shopping carts, bicycle parts, and improvised cookware—-then the needles—the toilet paper and feces—and—

    I find it hard to imagine the fortitude demonstrated by Officer Bob. I couldn’t do his job for a single day. I hope that he knows of our appreciation for his special kind of police work.

    Volunteers doing community clean-ups often get recognition for their excellent and important work, and yet, Officer Bob is “out there” constantly in all kinds of weather doing this thankless job over and over. I can’t thank him enough. Can you imagine a way to show a community’ appreciation?

    • Tim says:

      It is hard work, no question, but @ $104,464/year let’s not pretend he is volunteering here…

      • Linda Nelson says:

        Tim, I’m not sure what Bob’s salary is as he is a community service officer, but I’ve been in the field with him several times. Most people would find different employment rather than deal with what he does, even considering the pay… He makes an incredible difference in this community above and beyond what he his public wage.

  7. Toni C. Perkins says:

    Related to new jail beds: Sheriff Bosenko made a statement on the Carl Bott program that 25 of the new beds available in the plan for additional jail bed would be for the mentally ill. There was no elaboration on this. My concern is what would be the purpose of housing the mentally ill in jail. The mentally ill belong in a psychiatric treatment facility where they can not only receive medication to control their condition but adjunctive therapy in evidence based treatment to address behavioral and cognitive issues to help them control their lives in the outside world. This type of care is not available in a jail setting.

  8. Common Sense says:

    Agreed Toni C Perkins! Save the Jail beds for the Hardened Criminals…..help the Mentally ill in another facility.

    It’s really a Shame that the County Said NO to Prop 64 and the Millions of Dollars that would have brought into the County of Shasta for helping Solve some of these Issues!

    >>>What we need to be Asking the County Board of Supervisors is- What is your PLAN to offset the lost Millions of Dollars By Saying NO to Prop 64? What is your Plan to offset the lost 200-300 Jobs that would have been created?? <<<

    What is Their Plan now that No State Grants Will Happen since they Said NO to Prop 64?????

  9. Richard Christoph says:

    Had we citizens of Redding passed Measure D at the average cost per family of $ 4.25/month, much could by now have been accomplished in addressing the problems that persist. The fact that there appeared to be little to no resistance to the passage of an additional $2.00 per pack cigarette tax contrasts markedly and ironically with the loud and vocal opposition to Measure D.

  10. Frank Treadway says:

    Yes to Toni Perkins comments. Had the Board of Supervisors not closed the Shasta Psychiatric Hospital on Breslauer Ln several years ago, we’d not have this problem of the mentally ill on our streets. And it’s not too late to re-convert it to such. The Sups and City Council need to find collaborative ways to go after mental health funds. Places like the newly opened Hill Country Care Center on Market & Gold Sts. here in Redding can only do so much and have no space for 5150s, instead of sending them south to other counties. I also urge the Health Dept. to find a way to put more CHOWs out in the areas that transients/vagrants gather.

  11. The Old Pretender says:

    This is what policing is supposed to be, not an alternative partially funded by a local church or anyone else but the taxpayer. Waste in the RPD is evident, and this type of community policing is cheaper and more effective than hiding in dark corners waiting for busted taillights to appear.

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