Hate crimes and community safety were the topics of a recent town hall meeting hosted by resident Chong Wang and moderated by Mayor Karla Brown and Chief of Police David Swing.
The virtual forum drew nearly 150 viewers who discussed ways residents can deflect crime and racial hostilities in the community.
According to city statistics, Asians comprise about 35% of the population in Pleasanton, and the recent uptick in hate crimes throughout the country has made some residents nervous.
“Racial discrimination has always existed, but based on recent FBI data, crimes targeting Asians has increased (in the past year),” said Wang. “This has deeply concerned me and others in our community. Our goal is to make our city safer and better.”
Brown said the City of Pleasanton has a zero-tolerance policy toward hate crimes and noted that all the mayors in Alameda County recently signed a proclamation denouncing anti-Asian crimes.
“It is absolutely not acceptable,” said Brown. “Pleasanton has no tolerance for hate of any kind.”
Although Swing said he has not seen an uptick in hate-related crimes in the city, he added that the department continues to work to ensure the safety and well-being of all its citizens. He addressed one resident’s question about diversity in the department.
“Someone asked does the PD (police department) have officers who speak Mandarin and other dialects,” said Swing. “ I know we have officers that speak Spanish, and we have one from Pakistan … so we do have officers who speak languages other than English. (But) if we have a situation where someone is unable to communicate to us, we can call a language line and make the right connections for them. We want to increase and enhance the diversity of our organization.”
General safety tips were also highlighted by Swing who noted there were a few simple strategies residents can employ to combat crime in the community at large and specifically at home.
“Pleasanton is one of the safest cities in the state, but residents still need to not leave homes and cars unlocked,” said Swing. “The most common crime in Pleasanton is property crime … and one of the best ways to avoid it is by doing things to harden the target.”
Swing suggested tactics, such as not leaving computers, jewelry and cash in plain sight in cars. When out shopping, residents should lock their packages in their trunks and lock their car doors.
“At home, securing doors and windows and installing cameras and outside lighting are effective,” he said.
If an emergency does occur, calling 911 is the quickest way to get help, said Swing, who added that the department’s response times are among the nation’s highest.
“Our goal is to have a four minute or less response time for any emergency,” he said. “But four minutes can seem like an eternity ... and so it's important that while you are waiting for us you use strategies to keep yourself safe.”
Keeping doors locked, not answering the door and staying out of sight at home were some key tips, as was the benefit of knowing your neighbors and participating in Neighborhood Watch Programs as a proactive approach to deterring crime.
Swing also suggested that those who witness a crime and shoot video or take photos, should not post them on social media but rather turn them over to the police.
“Once someone has those photos or videos, the best thing to do is turn (them) over to law enforcement or turn over to the victim of the attack … but don't post on social media primarily because if you are a witness, and if you record or take photos, you don't know how the victim is going to feel or react. Just be compassionate and aware… I have been overwhelmed on a regular basis at what a special place Pleasanton is and the friendliness of the community."
Residents can report nonemergency issues to the police department at 925-931-5100. For emergency situations, citizens are urged to call 911.
To view the forum in its entirety, visit http://bit.ly/Indy_Safety.