By Motecuzoma Sanchez
March 27, 2017
Stockton, CA-Despite millions of dollars raised with the Measure A tax increase to hire more police officers and fund the Office of Violence Prevention and Ceasefire, violent crime increased last year in Stockton for the third year straight.
While the Record has taken Stockton Police’s claim of Stockton having the “lowest crime rate in years” at face value, one only need look at the numbers critically to understand why that characterization may be more about political propaganda than factual reality. On the surface it should be important to note that that claim includes property crimes data, which contributed to the 1% decrease. We must ask ourselves if even that is true or the result of less property crimes being reported as a consequence of SPD’s having residents file complaints online. To quote a women at a recent crime forum, “my home has been broken into five times over the last year and all the police could do was give me a blue card and tell me to file a complaint online. How can I file the complaint online when they stole my computer? I don’t even both to call them and report it anymore”.
What’s important to consider in regards to Stockton’s plight, triggering increased taxes and the highest sales tax in California in Measure A, is violent crime. It is violent crime that poses the greatest threat to safety and has been used to justify the tax increase to hire more officers with pay raises (new police vehicles bought after the previous ones only had 60,000 miles on them) and the funding of the “marshal plan”, Office of Violence Prevention, and Ceasefire. When looking at violent crime it has increased over the last three years straight despite those programs and new officers.
Measure A has raised approximately $90,000,000 in sales tax revenues since its implementation. It was passed by 52% of voters in 2013 in a special election that saw a record low turnout. It was presented to voters by city hall, including city manager Kurt Wilson and councilmember Michael Tubbs as, to paraphrase, “either give us more money for more officers or we can’t keep you safe”.
While promising to hire officers and fund violence prevention, it had no enforceable obligation to do so, but was instead designed to go into the general fund. Measure B, the companion measure establishing an oversight committee passed with more votes than measure A. However, it has no authority and only acts in an “advisory” role despite being sold to voters as an “oversight” body.
Three years into Measure A, Ceasefire, OVP, and the “marshal plan” Stockton’s occurrences of violent crime have increased 9.1%. Since 2013, before those plans were instituted, violent crime has actually increased 17.3% from 3,622 occurrences in 2013 to 4,382 in 2016.
Eric Jones was promoted to Chief in 2012. Michael Tubbs was elected in 2012. Kurt Wilson took over as City Manager in 2012. On their watch, other than 2013, violent crime has increased every year consecutively since.
Total Violent Crimes Per Year (reported):
2014-3,988 *Measure A, OVP, Ceasefire
2015-4,122 *Measure A, OVP, Ceasefire
2016- 4,382*Measure A, OVP, Ceasefire
Source: Stockton Police Department
To be fair let’s compare the five year period under Jones’ watch to the five years previous, after all 2012 was a record outlier. But so was 2011.
Total Violent Crimes Per Year (Reported):
Now since Chief Jones prides himself on being “a numbers guy” let’s find the cumulative value for those five year periods ( 20,429 between 2007-2011 and 20,744 between 2012-2016) and divide each by 5 to find their annual average ( 4,085.8 for 2007-2011 and 4,148.8 for 201-2016) to find that overall violent crime is up 1.5% on Jones’ watch with these programs and an additional $29 million dollar a year funding source.
Now Jones being a numbers guy and Tubbs being Stanford educated, they could claim the increased occurrences are the result of a concurrent growth in population. The truth is the Stockton population only grows at an average of 1.03% each year, much lower than the increase in violent crime over the last four years.
So what could account for the failing trend? The OVP has seen turmoil and incompetent leadership since its inception. The first manager, Jessica Glyn, while qualified, was fired after just two months at 9 months pregnant. She sued for discrimination and in court testified she was retaliated against for trying to run the Ceasefire program the way it was intended as a national program being used in other cities. One of the main issues she had was that Peacekeeper outreach workers were being compromised by the Stockton Police who were using them as informants instead of just outreach workers designed to reduce violence through relationships. It took over a year to hire another manager and in the meantime was being run by assistant city manager Christian Clegg who doesn’t even possess the credentials to apply for the position. The replacement, Latosha Walden, would come from the Probation department and turn out to be noting more than a front for Clegg to direct while continuing to run the office.
The Ceasefire program designed to reach out to the most vulnerable to violence or committing violence is only reaching out to 10-15 people once every three months. And only a few of the intended demographic are responding to those efforts. As a result they are going after individuals who aren’t even involved in gangs to try and pad their numbers. In fact with a budget of over a million dollars, the OVP only had 38 people come to their Ceasefire “call-Ins” all of last year. After three years they still have no strategic plan and no measurables. It’s not producing intended results.
In conjunction with those failures they are also partnering with non profits like Fathers& Families of San Joaquin who are being paid by police to reach out to black and brown communities (91% of all perpetrators and victims of violence in Stockton are Mexican/black/southeast Asian) to help build community relations on behalf of police. While doing so, they are not equipped for such a task and are promoting violence and intimidation to the community themselves.
Add to this dynamic the fact that Stockton police have killed dozens of black and brown men (23 since 2012) in the same period of time, giving cause to multiple sensational street protests. And while all of this is going on, the city leadership promotes itself as using “best practices”. In reality they are hiding their wounds under the cloak of “strengthening community police relations and trust building”. Their numbers do not support those claims.
And what has the additional $90,000,000 raised from Measure A to hire more officers gotten us? A whole gain of 0.10 more officers per 1,000 residents.
If the city is to truly move forward it must stop with the incompetent echo chamber of nepotistic leadership. It has to be honest with the community and take accountability for the failings of these remedies and re-strategize in a way that utilizes true community resources and tactics not just political allies for public relations purposes.
180 people have been murdered (not including the victims of police violence), 489 rapes, 4,515 robbberies, and 10,931 violent assaults have occurred in Stockton since Michael Tubbs, Eric Jones, and Kurt Wilson have come together as a self congratulating team.
Our community deserves better. So much better.
Motecuzoma Sanchez is a contributor of 209 Times and community advocate. Born and raised in Stockton, he holds a Bachelors Degree in Ethnic Studies from CSU Sacramento and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from USC.