In 2004, a Crime Prevention Detail consisting of one detective was started, and the focus of this position was to seek ways to reduce opportunities for criminals. The detective assigned to this position also manages the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program, which seeks to certify apartment properties upon their adoption of a number of standards. Such standards include the property embracing Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) concepts such as improved lighting, maintained landscaping, and tenant screening. Some locations who have embraced this program have experienced as much as ninety-percent reductions in calls for service to police. The concepts of Oxnard’s efforts have been sought after by agencies across the nation.
After two decades of crime decrease, in 2014, the Oxnard Police Department began to experience its second year of crime increases. Statistics showed that a 25% rise in crime was driven primarily by property crimes such as thefts and burglaries, the majority of which could have been prevented.
As a result of this increase in crime and challenges associated with public safety, Oxnard Police Chief Jeri Williams gathered her Command Staff to determine how we could best allocate resources and developed an innovative and comprehensive Crime Prevention Initiative, “Operation Safer & Stronger”. This contemporary crime prevention series is now being used as a model for the California Attorney General’s Office Community Engagement Taskforce. Similarly, our agency’s inaugural culturally-competent “Academia de Seguridad Publica para la Comunidad” (Spanish-speaking Citizen’s Academy) was also recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service (Western Region).
“Operation Safer & Stronger” was a year-long program with a three-prong approach aimed at “informing, educating and empowering” residents of Oxnard to become partners in public safety. The main focus of this program was to educate residents on how to minimize the likelihood of becoming a victim of a crime.
Public Safety and Crime Prevention Seminars were hosted throughout the city and were aimed at addressing evolving crime trends and current crime prevention topics such as “What is Suspicious?”, Burglary and Robbery Prevention, Target Hardening, Youth Safety, Safety and Security Tips for Seniors, Crime Prevention for Businesses and Neighborhood Watch Training.
In April of 2015, building on our long history and tradition of community engagement, as well as the success of our “Operation Safer & Stronger” Initiative, the Oxnard Police Department proudly announced the launch of Oxnard Neighbors United Project or ONUP, our new initiative that places neighbors and entire neighborhoods at its center.
Under ONUP, the community is “activated” to take an even more active role in caring for their neighborhoods. Rather than communities or neighborhoods waiting or using the police department as a middle man, they are given the resources to act for themselves. Neighborhoods are encouraged to create partnerships, with the police department acting as a catalyst, by engaging community partners, neighborhood stakeholders, businesses, neighborhood councils, city departments, clergy and faith-based organizations and neighbors who are committed to improving the quality of life in their respective neighborhood. The police department will continue to be a resource that can be called upon while allowing neighborhoods to choose best how they should be served and what their particular needs are. ONUP aims to challenge the neighborhoods to create their own Neighborhood Watch groups. Already, our efforts have been featured on local and regional news outlets.
For more information on the ONUP initiative or for crime prevention tips, contact Detective Crystal Walker at 805.385.7668 or firstname.lastname@example.org.