The Cop Shop: A town working together
Suddenly the shrill sound of felony alert tones screeched from my police radio, and startled me as I drove slowly through the darkness on routine patrol.Two-Lincoln-six cover on the next, two-Lincoln-five, the dispatcher began. 10-71, South 37th and Wall Avenue. Report of several down. Paramedics will be staging.Two-Lincoln-five en route, I immediately responded as I quickly flipped on my emergency lights and siren, and stepped firmly on the accelerator.10-71 meant I had a shooting to handle, and several down indicated there were multiple victims. The location was a familiar liquor store in my beat, a popular spot for large numbers of gang members to hang out and drink, especially on a warm summer evening like this. Before emergency personnel could help the victims, I needed to determine very rapidly whether the scene was still dangerous. And I needed to get there very fast to stand any chance of catching up with the suspect before he disappeared.I raced to the location of the shooting. In the eerie glow of the street lights, I saw three motionless and bleeding bodies sprawled in the roadway. Outside the liquor store, dozens of people were screaming, shouting, and milling around chaotically; others were running away from the area; and some just stood there casually, as if nothing had happened.Two-Lincoln-five, 10-97, Ive got three down in the street, I barked into my radio as I jumped from my patrol car, alerting the dispatcher and back-up units that Id arrived on the scene and confirmed there were several gunshot victims. Wheres the shooter?! Wheres the shooter?! I hastily yelled to the crowd.I was hoping to get a quick description, and some indication of whether and where the suspect had fled, but instead my question was met with silence and blank stares from the bystanders. At least 50 people were there, and I knew that many had seen the shootings; yet not a single person was willing to provide any information.Sadly, what Ive described was a typical situation while I was a police officer in Richmond, California. A very serious crime had occurred; law enforcement personnel rushed to the scene, eager to help the victims and capture the perpetrator; many people saw what happened and knew who was responsible; but no one would provide the information necessary for officers to solve the crime and apprehend a violent felon.Thankfully, that scenario has not occurred in Truckee, and, hopefully, it never will. But contrary to what many people assume, some significant crimes do happen here. And in our small community, just as in large cities like Richmond, it is necessary for citizens and police to engage in constructive dialogue and work together if crime is going to be addressed effectively.Richmond is one of the most violent cities in the United States. The troublesome lack of useful communication between citizens and the police there is the result of complex causes and long-term issues. In contrast, Truckee is a small, relatively safe town and, generally speaking, most people here are eager to help law enforcement officers address the problems that arise. Nonetheless, there is indeed some serious criminal activity in Truckee, and there is also often a need for improved communication between citizens and the towns police officers. Our growth, our proximity to major urban areas, and the fact that an interstate freeway cuts through our midst make the occurrence of crime here unavoidable. And, as our town continues to expand, there will inescapably be more criminal activity. There will also be an increasing need to cultivate and maintain a solid partnership between the public and the police if law enforcement is going to be successful in helping to preserve our quality of life here.For the Truckee Police Department to protect and serve the Truckee community most effectively, I believe two fundamental goals must be achieved: 1) Members of the police department need to have a good understanding of the communitys problems and concerns; and 2) members of the community need to have a good understanding of what the towns police officers do, how they do it, and why they do it. Mutual understanding is essential if were going to make our town as safe as it can be, now and in the future.So the purpose of this column will be to open up the lines of communication in order to foster a strong working relationship between the public and the police. In each column we will strive to provide insight into some aspect of police work, and to explore issues raised by members of the community. If there are specific topics youd like us to discuss here, please contact the Truckee Police Department at email@example.com. We will do our best to answer your questions, address your concerns, and facilitate constructive dialogue.Officer Marty Schoenberg is one of the original members of the Truckee Police Department and the President of the Truckee Police Officers Association. He has worked for the Sacramento County Sheriffs Department, the Nevada County Sheriffs Department, and the Richmond Police Department. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.