San Ramon sees crime rate increase

Police chief presents 2015 statistics, predictions on what future holds

The San Ramon City Council joined police chief Joe Gorton to talk about the city's crime rate increase last year, police staffing levels, the planned new emergency dispatch program and other department updates Tuesday evening.

"For 2015, everything pretty much went up, which is not a great thing in the criminal world," Gorton said during the regular council meeting at City Hall. "Some of this is due to our population increase ... it was to be expected. But, as you can see, the workloads are increasing."

San Ramon's overall crime rate experienced a 7% increase in 2015, according to Gorton, noting a 20% increase in property crimes in addition to rises in other individual categories of reported crimes, including robbery (13 total incidents), larceny and theft (654), arson (nine), aggravated assaults (10), and rape (four).

The city did see a drop in burglaries, with 146 incidents reported last year compared to 209 burglaries in 2014 and 171 in 2013, the police chief said. There were no murders in San Ramon again last year.

City statistics showed that in 2015, officer-initiated patrol events increased by 12%, alarm responses increased 10% and calls for service increased 6%. The data also showed the number of arrests made last year dropped to 602 overall -- 5% less than the 637 arrests made in 2014.

"We're a very, very, very safe community, even with our property crimes increase," Gorton said. "However, there has been significant increases in the entire state of California in property crimes."

"With passage of Prop 47, we've seen the property crimes increase," the police chief added, referencing the November 2014 proposition affected the lengths and degrees of felony sentencing.

Councilman Phil O'Loane questioned the actual relation between Prop 47 and San Ramon's recent crime trends.

"I find it difficult for folks to say 'This is a result of a proposition that the public looked past in 2014' when, in fact, it's the same rate as when the proposition didn't exist for two years prior to that," O'Loane said.

"It's just not a valid statement to be made, from my perspective," he added. "We're going to be asked at times to make decisions based on what folks say about the crime increases, and there's no basis for that being the reason for crime increase. People involved in public policy must keep an eye on it, because we don't know why the crime is going up, necessarily."

Councilman Dave Hudson responded, stating "It's very difficult to make a decision based on short-term changes. The problem is, up until two years ago, it (crime rate) was going down, and then you see this spike ... What really needs to be watched is the next one that says 2016."

"If it stays flat, then everything you're saying is correct. But if it jumps ... then all of a sudden, yes, you do need to call it what it is, something caused these things to start up," Hudson said. "Before we say it's one thing, let's be sure. 2016 is going to be very important."

Describing other 2015 police data, Gorton said San Ramon saw an increase in citations issued, traffic collisions and crashes involving injury. He noted that the most frequent moving violations included speeding, improper turns, stoplights and signs, and other cellphone-related infractions such as texting while driving.

The number of driving under the influence (DUI) arrests increased by 9%, totaling in at 251, while DUI crashes dropped by 3% to a total of 39 incidents.

"The officers have spent a large portion of their time trying to move that number downwards," Gorton said. "I think we're being effective in that area; hopefully we can continue to bring that down."

In its continuing efforts to fight crime, the San Ramon Police Department (SRPD) established a Community Relations and Crime Prevention Division in 2015 that has been staffed by Lt. Denton Carlson in attempts to address the property crimes, Gorton noted.

SRPD has also worked on consolidating emergency dispatch services with the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District, the police chief said. Last year, the department welcomed new technology resources, including four patrol cars that contain automatic license plate readers and two more on the way.

Gorton and the councilmen discussed the new ways the department is combating crime through social media, noting that the SRPD has a Facebook page and also communicates with residents using the website Nextdoor, where neighbors in the same city can discuss a variety of topics, including crime.

Councilman Harry Sachs asked if the department could research trends in the future by taking data from the neighborhoods represented on Nextdoor to see if the social media presence correlates to crime reduction.

As for future challenges, Gorton noted that there will be an increase in service demands as the population grows, as well as service demands from the planned City Center Bishop Ranch retail complex. While that increase in service demands will require more officers, he acknowledged routine staffing changes due to retirements and injuries will also affect how many new staff members are needed.

Gorton said he hopes to add 10 sworn officer positions while increasing civilian staffing by five positions through filling vacancies and a new position within the next five years.

In other business:

* The council received an update on the Bollinger Canyon Road widening project.

The city recently executed a right-of-way agreement that allowed utility relocation work to occur between Sunset Drive and Interstate 680.

What is now left of the project is the road widening portion, city officials said. The phase focuses the Bollinger Canyon stretch from Market Place to the freeway, creating four travel lanes total in each direction.

The project also includes intersection improvements. At the intersection of Sunset Drive, going westbound toward Chevron, the city will create two turn lanes which will help increase capacity.

On Sunset coming out to Bollinger Canyon, the city will add an extra lane to increase turning movements coming out of the intersection. Going eastbound from Bollinger Canyon to Camino Ramon, there's about 300 feet of vehicle-stacking distance that will be increased to 450 feet. Westbound, the single turning lane will be turned into two turning lanes.

* The city honored Harvey Riggs for his years of service on the Transportation Advisory Committee, with staff presenting Riggs with a personalized street sign as recognition.

* The council also recognized Pine Valley Middle School seventh-graders Maximiano Gonzalez, Chris Hansen and Kevin Barthol for taking third-place in the San Ramon Valley's Street Smarts youth video contest. The trio created a PSA-style film titled, "5 Eazy Steps to Stay Safe," which focused on highlighting street and school safety.

* Public works director Maria Fernier introduced the council to Ron Allen, the new city's new associate engineer.

Division manager Jeff Gault introduced other new Public Works Division employees James Cauthren, Lance Graf, John Hodgers, Maria Lusherovich, Schoot Rennicks, Gary Savell, Robert Sikes and David Watson.

Editor's note: Amanda Morris is a freelance writer for

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17 people like this
Posted by Resident3
a resident of San Ramon
on Feb 26, 2016 at 6:37 pm

And the far left voted for Prop 47, thanks a lot.

18 people like this
Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Feb 26, 2016 at 11:08 pm

If Mr. O'Loane's perspective is that Prop 47 has nothing to do with the increasing crime rate throughout the state, he is more clueless than I thought and absolutely unfit for public office.

6 people like this
Posted by Peter Kluget
a resident of Danville
on Feb 29, 2016 at 7:40 am

Considering the fact that crime rates are down compared to 2012 (and every year before that) I'm thinking that "resident" is thumping a tub that's out of tune.

Unless you believe that margarine causes divorce, of course.

Web Link

2 people like this
Posted by Bill the Cat
a resident of another community
on Feb 29, 2016 at 8:21 am

Web Link What does that flora from Stanford know, anyway?

6 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Feb 29, 2016 at 8:27 am

If they think the crime rate is up now, wait until they put in the new movie theaters. When people from other areas come here to the movies, you will see crime up even more. At least BART doesn't come to San Ramon. That is Dublin's problem to deal with.

2 people like this
Posted by SHale99
a resident of another community
on Feb 29, 2016 at 1:47 pm

SHale99 is a registered user.

With 3 movie theatres already available (two quite old)a new one closer for San Ramon residents will be welcomed. I really doubt too many will come from 'outside' San Ramon since the other theatres will remain available.

7 people like this
Posted by Renae Wilber
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 1, 2016 at 9:38 am

I very much appreciate the comments of Phil O'Loane in his ability to think critically pertaining to Proposition 47 and the possibility that this may not be a correlation to increased crime. I also respect Police Chief Joe Gorton's perspective, with his many years of experience in the criminal arena. Then add Councilman Harry Sachs' suggestion to research future trends rather than jump to premature conclusions....and you have three intellectuals with the best of our community at heart. This is how it's supposed to fear mongering, no jumping on hatred anger bandwagons, no pointing fingers without proof...but fair minded professionals handling business, as it should be. Thank you gentlemen.

Like this comment
Posted by another resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 1, 2016 at 4:57 pm

San Ramon detectives decide what crimes they prosecute and which they don't. They are in control of making it LOOK like crime is down just by ignoring what they chose to ignore.

If you were one of their "victim" you will know what I'm talking about. That kind of news doesn't make the papers.

11 people like this
Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 3, 2016 at 9:46 am

Detectives don't decide which crimes are prosecuted. District attorney's do. And for anyone who doesn't think Prop 47 has affect crime, I encourage you to go down to any police department in the state and sign up to go on a ride along some afternoon or evening. Watch carefully the types of crimes that are being committed and ask the officer how that compares to several years ago.

3 people like this
Posted by Bill the Cat
a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2016 at 1:51 pm

... because why rely on actual evidence when you can have an experience that feeds your existential fear? Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Johm Madison
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 3, 2016 at 8:00 pm

This is all great, but let's get back to building "FARIA PRESERVE"

Dublin is beating us......we are losing status in political ranks.

Let's get rolling now !!

8 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Danville
on Mar 4, 2016 at 7:01 am

I attended a Neighborhood Watch meeting in Danville recently and Danville's Chief said the same thing about Prop 47. If I understood him correctly burglaries are being prosecuted much more often as misdemeanors than before so the bad guys are concentrating in that area.

8 people like this
Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 4, 2016 at 8:40 am

Bill the Cat, yes, why face reality when instead, you can stick your head in the sand and try to feel good about yourself?

3 people like this
Posted by Bill the Cat
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2016 at 9:38 am

The evidence is not in the sand -- it's in Peter K's post. Apparently, it fails to fit your fearful preconceptions. Oh well, you, Donald, Marco and I can resume our preoccupation.

4 people like this
Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 5, 2016 at 12:41 pm

Bill, my "preconceptions" are reality not some abstract academic theory. But carry on.

3 people like this
Posted by Bill the Cat
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2016 at 8:03 am

Oh my. Let's see: belittles academia, check. Resists actual evidence, check. Lives in irrational fear, check. Stubbornly clings to stories, where database=one, check. Absolutely certain that he's correct, check. I'm guessing you vote GOP, LTR -- am I right?

You may be longtimer enough to recall the wisdom of Will Rogers: "It's not what folks don't know, it's what they think they know that just ain't true, that's the problem."

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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