CHICO – When it comes to crime, it’s not always about the numbers.
The Chico Enterprise-Record accompanied Lt. Ben Love of the Chico Police Department from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and got a glimpse of what a typical day looks like for a Chico police officer.
Although we didn’t have a chance to answer calls, Love said a typical day for an officer can usually range from 10 to 20 calls. Love said there’s a lot going on in every call from the moment the call comes in. Typically, an officer is dispatched to a location and may spend 30-40 minutes talking to the person who called to gather information. After the officer leaves the initial location, they usually conduct an investigation.
This week in particular, there haven’t been as many calls, Love said. One reason is that spring break is this week, he said. However, police expected an increase in St. Patrick’s Day calls. To prepare, an additional team of officers have been working to help deal with the increase in calls that may arise.
Love said the department has had staffing issues. Specifically, the Chico Police Department needs people to work at the dispatch center. Another area where there have been staffing issues is in the traffic unit. Love said Chico police are working to increase their numbers.
Besides staffing, the Chico Police Department has focused on building a relationship with the community and making the community feel safe. Love said crime data helps provide Chico police with important information that officers can use to increase community safety. With the data, Chico Police can determine where crime tends to occur in Chico and see crime trends.
“Until the community feels safe, the numbers are just one piece of what we’re going to look at,” Love said.
According to the Chico Police Department crime mapviolent crimes have seen a slight decline since 2018 and property crimes have seen a decline since 2017. According to crime map data, 611 violent crimes were reported in 2018, 557 violent crimes reported in 2019 and 540 violent crimes reported in 2020. According to crime map data, 3,593 property crimes were reported in 2017, 2,403 property crimes reported in 2018, 2,406 property crimes reported in 2019 and 2,113 property crimes reported in 2020. Violent crime and property crime data for 2021 is not yet available.
Love said the department has seen a slow increase in DUI car crashes over the past few years. He said Chico police are working to have a DUI checkpoint soon, which will be the first in a few years. Love also said there has been an increase in overdoses. Every officer now carries nalozone in their car, he said. Nalozone is used to treat drug overdoses.
The data also only represents crimes reported to Chico police. Love said there are situations, especially with property crimes, where people don’t report them and those cases aren’t represented in the data. Love said an example where someone may not report a crime is when someone’s car has been broken into and something has been stolen, sometimes that person doesn’t report it.
He said the police have worked to build trust with the community so that if a crime is committed against someone, that person feels comfortable enough to report it. Love said police used social media to build a relationship with the community and get community members to look beyond the uniform.
“We are humans; we are not robots,” Love said. “We care about providing safety and a sense of security in the community.”
Love said officers are working to make themselves available to the public as much as possible and that Chico Police Department officers are taking the time to connect with people in the community. He also said that when he talks to people who want to become police officers, most of the time they want to work as an officer to help make the community feel safe.
However, Love said he believes everyone has room to grow and he knows the Chico Police Department does. He said he’s working to see what Chico police can improve, such as what training officers can take to improve how they respond to calls.
“The more we can build a level of trust with the community, the more people will feel comfortable reporting crimes,” Love said.