Residents demand sheriff's patrols
DISCOVERY BAY: 96 percent surveyed feel safe, but more than half call for more policing
CONTRA COSTA TIMES
Discovery Bay residents want more sheriff's deputy patrols to quell
their concerns about burglary, theft, loitering youths and drug sales.
Results of a survey sent to all 4,068 households in the
unincorporated community by the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office
were released this week.
Although 96 percent of respondents indicated that they felt safe,
surveys were returned with numerous comments critical of the deputy
services. Almost half of the 1,136 respondents made written comments as
well as responding to the five questions on the survey, which was sent
out in January.
Theft, burglary and vandalism were rated as the most important concerns by 72 percent of respondents.
"The reports of theft and vandalism seem quite high to me
considering our location and the higher income level required to live
here. I have lived in higher density locations and suburbs with
significantly less or almost no criminal activity," one respondent
Sheriff's Office records show there were 29 burglaries in Discovery
Bay in 2005 and no homicides, robberies or vehicle thefts. There were
32 simple assaults, nine other assaults, 114 thefts, one rape and one
"For a community the size of Discovery Bay, the crime rate is really
not high at all," said sheriff's Cmdr. Scott Daly. "The responses
indicate residents want to see more officers in Discovery Bay. We quite
honestly would love to see that, but the constraints of budget and
staffing make that difficult," he said.
The sheriff's substation that serves East County is in Oakley. Three
deputies and one sergeant are typically assigned to each shift. One
beat includes the unincorporated area near Antioch, another encompasses
Bethel Island and Knightsen and the third serves Byron and Discovery
Bay, Daly said.
Other complaints made by survey respondents related to response time, drug use and sales and gang activity.
"I feel the attitude out here in Discovery Bay is you can do
anything and get away with it because by the time enforcement is called
and they arrive out here, the guilty are long gone," one person wrote.
"There is entirely too much teenage hooliganism and theft," another stated.
Respondents also mentioned speeding and other traffic problems and
patrolling inside the gated developments -- issues the deputies aren't
permitted to enforce.
The California Highway Patrol is in charge of traffic enforcement
problems and community rules and regulations govern gated areas.
Some residents praised the deputies for their work.
"Thanks for letting us offer some feedback on our neighborhood. We
think they are doing well with such a short staff," a respondent stated.
Sheriff Warren Rupf says he wanted to conduct the survey to
determine whether complaints made by the Discovery Bay Community
Services District board members reflect the concerns of the community.
The survey followed Rupf's decision to stop sending a representative
to the Community Services District board meetings and his formation of
a makeshift municipal advisory group of his own. Rupf said that during
meetings his deputies were being unfairly characterized by some board
members as insensitive and uncaring.
"By and large our reputation in the community is good and the public
understands that we are trying to do what we can to provide a safety to
the community," Daly said. "Only 13 percent of people responded they
saw a deputy often. That isn't what we want. We want the community to
know we are there all the time, not just when they make a phone call."
Residents pay for sheriff's services through their property taxes.
When the county budget was slashed in 2003, the Sheriff's Office lost
20 deputies, which included a resident deputy in Discovery Bay. Many
respondents indicated they wanted that deputy back.
Ray Tetreault, Community Services District board treasurer and
sheriff's liaison, said he agrees that the community largely wants a
greater presence of officers in Discovery Bay.
"People just want to see the officers more," he said. "We have very
little crime, but we only have one deputy for the beat and if he is
involved in anything he's not available for anything else."
Danielle McNamara covers East County police and fire. Reach her at 925-779-7174 or email@example.com.