http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2009/02/27/police-chief-concerned-over-prison-cuts-in-state-budget


DanvilleSanRamon.com

Newsfront - February 27, 2009

Police chief concerned over prison cuts in state budget

Plan could allow thousands of prisoners out on the street early

by Geoff Gillette

One of the ways California Gov. Schwarzenegger proposed closing a $42 billion budget shortfall in the state is by reducing spending for corrections and parole supervision services by 8.7 percent.

The reductions would mean that the state's parole population would be cut by more than 60,000 by June 30, 2010, as well as allowing for the early release of non-violent offenders for good behavior and for time served in county jail while awaiting court hearings and transfer to state facilities.

Danville Police Chief Chris Wenzel expressed his concerns to the Town Council at their Feb. 17 meeting.

"Sixty-thousand scares me," he said, "and how it's going to affect Danville. We're not sure how that's going to affect us."

Wenzel reassured the council that the plan would not allow for the release of offenders who have been put in jail for violent crimes.

"Most of the people getting out will be for property crimes or drug offenses," he explained.

He said that he isn't sure whether these cuts will affect Danville or Contra Costa County, but he said his office will be stepping up its efforts to educate residents about keeping their homes and cars locked up.

"We're going to continue to be more proactive. We'll keep providing information to the public on crime and how not to be a victim," he explained.

In many of the burglary cases the Police Department handled in 2008, residents had left their homes and vehicles unlocked, or had left the car with purses, laptops and other valuables sitting out in open view on the seat.

Wenzel was asked about whether there has been an increase in property crimes since the start of the year. He said that there had been an increase seen in January, but he was not certain what the cause could be.

He said his office is continuing to look at the numbers and working out how best to respond.

"The main thing," he said, "is remind people to lock up when they leave and not to leave their valuables sitting out in the open."

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