Message from the Chief of Police: Police Department happenings

Martinez Chief of Police Manjit Sappal. (COURTESY / On File)
Martinez Chief of Police Manjit Sappal. (COURTESY / On File)
By MANJIT SAPPAL
Martinez Chief of Police

Feb. 14, 2016, the police department made the transition to a new Neighborhood Policing Area structure. The Neighborhood Policing Areas (NPA) have been in existence for some time, but we have modified the geographic boundaries so that we now have 4 areas for patrol. Each area has four officers assigned, along with a police sergeant, across the seven day a week, 24 hours a day schedule. At any given time, there is one officer in each area responding to calls as well as following up on neighborhood problems affecting the community.

If you need to contact officers in your area, you can email the group directly. For more information on your NPA, the officers assigned, and how to contact them, please visit http://www.cityofmartinez.org/depts/police/neighborhood_policing_areas.asp.

As far as crime trends, the cities of Martinez, Concord, and Pleasant Hill are seeing an increase in thefts of Ford F series trucks. The main Ford vehicles being targeted are the F-250, F-350, and E-350 (van). The ignition lock is being damaged to start the vehicles. We have been working with neighboring police departments on this issue, but there are a few things that you can do to try to prevent these types of thefts:

1) Make sure that your vehicle is locked and secured;

2) Use an anti-theft device such as the “Club”;

3) If you have a car alarm, make sure it is on and armed when you lock up the vehicle;

4) If you notice people looking into cars in your neighborhood and it looks suspicious or out of the ordinary, call dispatch (925-372-3440) immediately to report it;

5) Park in well lit areas if possible.

When offenders are looking for things to steal, they often assess the risk versus the reward. If it looks risky because they have to do more work to complete the theft or because residents are calling the police because they are behaving suspiciously, they may decide that it isn’t worth the reward. Let’s work together to make it difficult for anyone to commit a crime, and report suspicious behavior when you see it.

Other recent crime trends include “Shoulder Surfing” at ATM machines. Suspects will try to peek over the shoulder of a person using an ATM machine to try to see their PIN number. Please be aware of your surroundings and if you feel uncomfortable at an ATM machine because someone is intruding into your personal space, walk away and give us a call. If you can let the dispatcher know about the behavior you see that appears suspicious and can provide a description of the person, it can go a long way in preventing someone else from being victimized.

We are happy to announce that we have made headway in hiring and are on track to have two new dispatchers starting in March. One of the new hires, Megan Magers-Rankin, currently works in our Records Unit and we are proud of her successful completion of the Dispatch hiring process. We also have three officers in the final stages of the hiring process, and if all goes well, we should have them on board within the next 30 to 60 days. Once all of these employees are hired, they will have to go through an extensive training process over the next six months before they can work independently. Once we have the new hires on board we will provide more details on each one of them to help introduce them to our community.

We had quite a bit of police activity over the month and the following is a snapshot of some of the activity:

• Officer Winslett received a call from one of his contacts at the Oakland office of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) to learn of a wanted suspect in our city for an illegal gun sales case. Officer Winslett conducted surveillance in the area the suspect was known to frequent, located the suspect, and made the arrest without incident during a car stop.

• Sergeant Gaul contacted several individuals in the 2300 block of Pacheco Boulevard and arrested an individual for being under the influence of narcotics as well as the possession of various drug paraphernalia. This area has had considerable complaints about drug activity in the last few months.

• Officer Mayberry was conducting a check in the marina area when he observed a suspicious vehicle near the Harbor Master’s office. During the investigation, he contacted an individual who was found to be in possession of methamphetamine; the suspect was arrested.

• Officer Sanders contacted a juvenile pedestrian at Susana and Court Street and he recognized the juvenile from a previous drug arrest. During this contact, the suspect fled on foot and Officer Sanders gave chase. The officer caught him and he was found to be in possession of a loaded .38 caliber revolver concealed in his pocket – he was arrested.

• Officer Lincoln tried to stop a scooter for running a stop sign on Martinez Avenue and Palm Avenue, but the suspect decided not to stop. A pursuit ensued, but was terminated when the suspect drove down a dirt embankment. Officer Breinig located the abandoned scooter and Sergeant Gaul located the suspect attempting to escape the perimeter. The suspect was arrested and found to be in possession of approximately 10.0 grams of methamphetamine (that’s a pretty substantial quantity). The suspect was arrested for felony evasion of a police officer, possession of dangerous drugs for sale, as well as transportation and probation violations, and two outstanding warrants.

• Officers conducted a car stop at Vine Hill Way and Rolling Hill Way that resulted in the arrest of three individuals for a variety of charges including being under the influence of narcotics and the possession of stolen property.

• Detectives served a warrant at a suspect’s residence and recovered evidence related to burglaries that occurred in our city. The suspect was arrested for the possession of stolen property, the possession of drugs, and for attempted burglary.

• Officer Sanders contacted a suspect at a known drug house in the 2000 block of Olympic Drive. During a probation search of the suspect, Officer Sanders located methamphetamine in his pocket, resulting in an arrest.

• Officer Lekse stopped a car at Vine Street and Rose that was found to be a reported stolen vehicle from BART property in Bay Point. The drivers were arrested and also found to be in possession of methamphetamine. In a separate case, Officer Lekse contacted a person in a suspicious vehicle in the McDonald’s parking lot and found them to be in possession of drugs.

• The Quick Stop at 3700 Alhambra Avenue reported an armed robbery in which two suspects, described as Hispanic males, entered the store with handguns. One suspect waited at the counter while the other went behind the register and took money, liquor, and lottery tickets. Both suspects fled on foot northbound after the robbery. The CCTV footage from the store was of poor quality and did not aid in providing additional descriptive information.

• Concord PD pursued a stolen F250 truck that eventually stopped at the John Muir Inn. Two suspects fled on foot and Martinez PD officers located both offenders, leading to their arrests.

As a reminder, please call us about suspicious activity in your neighborhood. If someone is peering into cars or checking mailboxes, give us a call. Any time you see anything that seems out of the ordinary, call dispatch so we can send an officer over to check on things. At least we have the opportunity to investigate and potentially prevent a crime if someone is up to no good.

This message originally appeared in the March 2016 City newsletter, and is re-printed here with permission. To view the newsletter, visit http://cityofmartinez.org.

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One comment

  1. This is why police make so much money and have so much power. Most of us do good jobs, and for alot less and without weapons, with absolutely no media glory.

    Make sure no one steals the fruit instead of overstepping your role and becoming the fruit of the poison tree. I called for domestic violence repeatedly and was told I did not deserve protection.

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