Don’t panic … yet

Photo by Meredith J. Cooper

Violent crimes in Chico are outpacing population growth and exceeding the national average—that was the overriding message Police Chief Bruce Hagerty (pictured with Capt. John Rucker) gave the City Council Tuesday (Oct. 2) in a presentation Councilman Tom Nickell requested after a series of shootings—nine in 38 days—elicited concerns from citizens.

“It’s not a state of emergency; it’s a state of concern,” Hagerty said in response to one of Nickell’s questions. “I don’t want the public to panic, but my concern is it’s going to get worse if we don’t get on top of this now.”

The chief referred to the Chico Police Department’s 10-year plan, presented to the council in June, calling for ramped-up staffing levels. He’s redeployed officers from special units to address violent crimes. He’s also reassigned detectives to four unsolved homicide cases—the most the department has ever faced at once.

Meanwhile, crime prevention has taken a back seat. “We are a reactive force right now,” Hagerty said. “We’re not a proactive force.”

The 10-year plan is before the Finance Committee, which is assessing how to handle a looming budget deficit. The council voted 7-0 to have the Internal Affairs Committee look at ways the city can augment the police with little or no additional cost.