Police Chief of the Chula Vista Police Department, Roxanne Kennedy presented police safety updates and trends for the 2021 fiscal year, emphasizing the importance of being “open and and transparent” with communities.
According to the data presented during the Oct.12 city council meeting, Chula Vista, a city of 52 square miles, is currently trending to be the safest city in San Diego in 2021 with a crime index of 15:30, which is below most smaller cities in the county.
Impacts of Measure A
Measure A is a sales tax increase that voters passed in November 2018. While promoting the measure in the lead-up to the campaign, Chula Vista's elected officials said the tax hike was necessary to hire more public safety staffing. With funding received from Measure A, the Chula Vista Police Department funded 40 sworn police officers to date and 16 civilian professional staff. This represents a 16 percent increase from staffing since the implementation of Measure A.
“We have a long way to go. It’s been quite a challenging time for us and it does take a long period of time to swear in staffing,” Kennedy said. The process takes approximately 18 months for an officer to undergo the hiring process, training at the academy, field training, and to be deployed as a solo officer in the community.
The CVPD was approved for a lateral incentive of $20,000 by Chula Vista’s city council. According to Kennedy, the department “wants the best of the best to come to Chula vista” with the lateral incentive, and encourages the community to help the CVPD to find the right officers.
“It hasn't been for the lack of effort of us in the city trying to attract and hire the right people. I encourage the community though, you know what type of officer you want in the city of Chula Vista. We talk about compassionate policing and how important it is that we meet the expectations of our community” Kennedy said.
The CVPD has 114 new police officers with 9 in queue to begin police academy. There have been a total of 115 promotions department wide.
Response Times Trends
The Chula Vista Police Department for the first time in 21 years during the same fiscal year met established goals for Priority 1 Emergency Calls and Priority 2 Urgent calls. The expected time for the department to respond to Priority 1 calls is within 6 minutes, but current trends demonstrate an average of 5.27 minutes. For Priority 2 calls, the department is expected to respond within 12 minutes and is currently trending at 11.49 minutes.
“Response times are important because they mean we are meeting the needs of our community,” Kennedy said. “What that means is that we can get to our communities quicker when they need us the most.”
The method of calculating response times changed in 2017. According to Kennedy, the department factored in a lot of different variables, but narrowed it down to when the dispatch received the call and when the officer got there. This shift changed the response time in Priority 2 calls from 20 minutes to the most current projections.
On average, the CVPD responds to 97,000 calls for service annually. As of Oct.10, the department responded to 65,000 calls for service; of those 514 were classified as Priority 1 calls, and 11,561 as Priority 2. Kennedy credited this achievement to Measure A in the establishment of programs and technology like Live 911, RapidSOS mapping systems, and a number of different dashboards that provide information on hotspots to direct activities in areas of special need.
According to Kennedy, the CVPD redistributed staffing to where calls of service are coming from. The Drones as First Responders (DFR) program allows for 100 percent coverage of Chula Vista .
“We talk about being equitable across the board so that we can give our officers information so that they can make better informed decisions to help people when they need us the most,” Kennedy said. “It's not only staffing alone, it’s technology and technology for good and things that we have been doing at the Chula Vista Police Department.”
Violent Crime Trends
Violent crime trends were made available from January 2020 to September 2021. There were 10 Murders reported for the entire calendar year. As of September 2021, Murder rates decreased by 12 percent. “2020 was a very tough year. Not only for our community and each and every one of us who are here today, but it was for our police department as well,” Kennedy said.
The report showed a decline in offenses such as Rape by 24.39 percent, Armed Robbery by 15.09 percent and Strong Armed Robbery by 16.13 percent. There was a spike in Aggravated Assault by 8.61 percent and Firearm Incidents by 34 percent.
Kennedy reported Aggravated Assaults are about 9 percent higher than our prior year. About 70 percent of aggravated assaults involved felony crimes such as acts of significant violence, injury, or assaults with a deadly weapon.
Additionally, the data demonstrated an increase of aggravated assault involving firearms by13 percent, attempted murders involving firearms by 25 percent and unlawful discharge with firearms by 70 percent. No difference was made in murders involving firearms.
“Chula Vista’s murder rate continues to be among the lowest in the county. I believe that is really important. Sometimes when you talk about crime, it becomes alarming and concerning. I want people to understand in comparison that we do have a safe community, but we do deal with crimes so we have to be aware of what is occurring,” Kennedy said.