STOCKTON (CBS13) — After more than a decade of rising car and property theft cases around Stockton, police officers say their work is finally paying off.
In the last seven years, Christian Simas has seen his community change from an economic standpoint down to a renewal in faith, all the way down to crime.
“I know that there is a big stigma to overcome, a stigma that maybe was there for good reasons and maybe not so good reasons,” said Simas.
Simas is the lead pastor of Reality Church in Stockton. The faith group encourages members of its congregation to give back to the community by participating in events or by simply offering a helping a hand to those in need.
“As every person is doing their part and stepping in, this city is going to be changed, the city is going to be transformed,” he said.
And that is what Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones says is one of the reasons why crime in Stockton continues to go down. The department has seen a 7 percent drop in overall crime since last year.
“Last year, we had the lowest crime rate that we have seen in the last 16 years when it comes to overall crime and property crime. Violent crime has still been a concern for us and we had a lot progress to go with violent crime,” said Jones.
The Stockton Police Department has added additional staff including two new community service officers. The city is also part of a pilot program funded through the U.S. Attorney’s Office to help improve relationships between law enforcement officers and the community.
“The national initiative actually chose Stockton as a pilot site because of the issues we are seeing in Stockton but the willingness of our police department to take this type of issue head on,” said Jones.
Neighborhood-watch programs have also helped officers fight crime. There are more than 100 groups around the city giving police extra eyes on the street.
“They are so important because we can’t be everywhere in the neighborhood so we rely on some of these watch captains and groups to report crime if they see anything suspicious or if they see a crime in progress,” said Rosie Calderon, community service office for the Stockton Police Department.
The police department does encourage citizens if they see something, say something. Although crime is decreasing, the police chief says change isn’t going to happen overnight.
People interested in signing up for a neighborhood watch program can do so through the city’s website or by visiting Stockton Police.