Fremont scrutinized for burglary increase

May 30, 2008 8:54:55 AM PDT
Fremont police are being criticized three years after making the controversial decision to stop responding to most burglary alarms. The reason is a big jump in burglaries.

The decision was made to save money. It wasn't the police department's idea - the city told the police to do that. The police stopped responding to initial burglary alarms. And now, burglaries are up 20-percent - but that's really just half the story.

Back in 2005, this all happened when the police decided to do something to respond to the city's mandate to cut the budget by not responding to initial alarms. There was an uproar - and a call to arms by some people saying go out and get a hand run and get ready to protect yourself. The story received national attention. People were in some cases very scared. But they said, even back then, there was no reason to worry. Fremont Police Chief Craig Steckler explained the decision back in a 2005 interview:

"When you have limited resources you have to look and say where is the best bang from the tax dollar? It's not responding to 7,000 calls a year where 99-percent of the calls there is nothing happening," said Steckler.

The other half of the story - burglaries went up 20-percent in Fremont from 2005 to 2007; Alameda County went up 14-percent; Oakland went up 29-percent; Hayward, burglaries went up 33-percent. In Hayward, the police still do respond to burglaries.

Fremont has saved $2 million in the years since putting the plan into effect. That's money, according to the chief and the police officers, that is being used to solve other, more immediately solvable crimes.


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