Sacto 9-1-1
July 1, 2011
Sacramento police service changes effective today

Despite 42 officers out the door of the Sacramento Police Department, most residents likely won't notice a big difference right away: There are the same number of black-and-whites patrolling the streets today as there were last week.

Where the difference is most likely to be felt, officials say, is in the wake of a crime.

"For the most part, you won't notice any difference in the streets," said police spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong. "However, what you'll notice primarily is (the difference in) what we follow up on."

This week, 42 police officers and 66 non-sworn employees - such as forensic investigators and community service officers - turned in their badges and equipment. As a result, significant changes in police services are effective today, the start of the fiscal year.

Patrol staffing numbers have not been effected. However, the ranks of detectives were reduced from about 104 detectives to 79, with entire units - such as gangs and narcotics - completely eliminated.

Other units, like fiscal crimes, were reduced, and will have to severely downsize the number of cases they take on.

With fewer detectives, Leong said, the Police Department will not be able to do follow-up work on many crimes they previously would have investigated. As a result, he said, officers will not be dispatched to many crimes in which follow-up investigation - or prosecution by the District Attorney's office - is unlikely.

That includes most "cold" misdemeanors - low-level crimes that occurred without witnesses - like burglaries or assaults. Leong said exceptions would include cases in which there is significant evidence, such as video, or other strong investigative leads.

Officers still will respond to in-progress misdemeanors, Leong said.

"We're just cutting out calls that just aren't going to have the follow up on the back end," Leong said.

Police are still encouraging victims of such crimes to report them - they just have to do it online or at the one remaining public service counter at police headquarters, 5770 Freeport Boulevard. Leong said reporting the crimes helps keep police statistics accurate, even when officers are not responding.

The department also has changed how it handles noise complaints. Officers only will be dispatched when it involves a notable disturbance or the possibility of an altercation, such as a large party, Leong said. More common calls of neighbors playing loud music will not be addressed, he said.

Two other changes the public might notice: Police will only respond to traffic collisions that involve significant injuries or a hazard, Leong said. And crime scene investigators are now sworn officers; 14 non-sworn forensic investigators were among those laid off.

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Sacto 9-1-1 is a blog on crime and emergency services news in the Sacramento region.

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