Residents of Isleton came out in force Thursday night for a Neighborhood Watch meeting to talk to Sacramento County Sheriff Deputies about what the current coverage of the City is and what rights people have as citizens to try and keep the community safe. Concerns over issues going on in town were addressed, but to citizen’s dismay – there isn’t much Sacramento County can do at this point unless it is a life threatening emergency.
“If it is not an active crime taking place, we will not take a report,” said Laura Grossman. “Unless you witness a crime taking place, don’t call us.”
The agreement that was informally approved by the City Council Thursday is for the Sacramento Sheriff to cover the City for emergency services only for $180,000 a year. That leaves Isleton with slightly more police coverage than they’ve had over the past month, as the department basically dissolved when two paid officers went on leave for incidents that are currently being investigated by the Sacramento District Attorney.
The former Police Chief Steve Adams was fired not long into June, and has recently been reported to having death threats and vandalism to his residence in Roseville. He fully believes that it is someone from Isleton doing this.
Regarding the meeting Thursday, residents were appalled to learn that unless they are actively being mugged, robbed or assaulted- they have no case to call the sheriff. It was explained by Ron Daana that it has nothing to do with the Sheriffs not wanting to help Isleton, but is more or less politics.
“You have your own police force, you are a City,” he said. “We don’t have the authority to come out here and provide full coverage. It’s politics.”
Daana has worked in the area for 12 years and helps conduct Neighborhood Watch meetings on Sherman Island, the Delta Loop and in Walnut Grove.
“We’re doing emergency stuff to save lives,” said Grossman. “The other incidents are up to the City department to handle.”
Councilmember Elizabeth Samano asked if the incidents would even be logged to better give an idea to officers of who the incidents are taking place with in town. She was disappointed, as were many residents to find out that no log would be taken and the call would not be sent out to officers.
Michael Link spoke of an incident that happened on his property recently when a person hit his fence, knocking it down and costing him over $2,000. He reported the incident to the Sheriff, but nothing happened for over a day until he called the CHP.
“Anything dealing with property or a vehicle is handled by CHP,” he said.
Glen Giannini had an issue during the Cajun Festival regarding a very intoxicated man that was stumbling to his car trying to drive off. He called 9-1-1, but nothing could be done at the moment and it took hours for someone to arrive. By that time, the man had passed out drunk in his car with the keys in the ignition.
“It was lucky he didn’t drive off,” he said. “He could have easily killed somebody.”
The Sacramento Sheriff Department wanted to emphasize that they are not saying “no” to service. It is just that with budget cuts and the huge caseload that already exists, it makes it almost impossible to respond to calls quickly to the furthest City out from Sacramento in the county.
“We can’t do it- it’s not our jurisdiction,” said Grossman, of responding to normal calls. “It’s like us going into Sacramento or Rio Vista.”
Interim Isleton City Manager Dan Hinrichs walked into the meeting a little bit late and began to speak to residents about their concerns and what could be done to deal with the issues currently going on in town. He went on to explain how bad of shape the police department had been in, and how the City would be best off to contract with the Sheriff for now and try to rebuild the department as they go.
“The weapon security here was bad,” said Hinrichs. “Our officers didn’t have the proper field training. Our guys had never been on a firing range. To have an adequate police force, properly equipped – it would take about $500,000 a year.”
Hinrichs noted that the cars the City currently has are shot, as they were picked up as second rate CHP vehicles that were no longer in use. Not only were they not equipped for city police work, they were on their last legs in every respect. Of the five the city owns, only two are even running remotely decent at the time.
Dennis Schardt of Rio Vista, a retired Lieutenant from the San Francisco P.D. has been helping the City with consultant work to try and get things back on the right track. He has been advising Hinrichs on many different situations, including the improvement of evidence.
Daniel Flores brought up the point that if he was trying to stop a crime in progress as a good citizen working under Neighborhood Watch, and that if he got mugged and lost his phone – who would be lible for the damages. He was informed that only he, himself would be responsible. In other words, only try to break up a crime at one’s own risk – because nothing will happen if one ends up dead.
“That’s what you’re left with right now,” said Grossman. “You’re our eyes and ears. Don’t take the law into your own hands.”
It truly has become the “wild west” in Isleton.