How safe are we?
That was the question many Woodlands neighborhood residents wanted answered Monday night at a community meeting at with city leaders, members of the and nearly 100 Woodlands neighbors.
According to WCPD, we're pretty safe—and the residents themselves can make it even more so.
Increased Neighborhood Watch programs and a new Business Watch initiative —along with increased awareness among residents—will go a long way to helping deter crime in this Northgate area neighborhood that has been
Woodlands Association president Ed Wohlers put together the community meeting with the help of WCPD Sgt. Sean Conley after the close-knit and sleepy neighborhood was rocked by a series of robberies late last fall and early in 2011 at nearby businesses. in Encina Grande, and in Citrus Center, and Round Table Pizza and Starbucks in nearby shopping centers at the corner of Oak Grove and Treat Blvd. in Concord were all robbed, with an attempted robbery at the at Citrus Center.
Sgt. Conley eased fears when he told residents that most of the robberies were connected, and that two of the three suspects had been arrested and police were close to arresting a third suspect.
But the meeting also provided residents, police, and city leaders—including Mayor Cindy Silva, council member Kish Rajan and city manager Ken Nordhoff—the opportunity to discuss how the police department is staffed, how residents should report suspicious behavior, and specific “community policing” initiatives that allow better security for residents and businesses.
“When I first spoke with the neighborhood association, they expressed a sense that this part of Walnut Creek didn’t matter as much as downtown,” said Police Chief Joel Bryden. “I am here to completely disabuse that thought.”
Bryden said that because of the influx of people downtown on weekend nights, it seemed like that there was a large police presence and that area was getting all the attention. He explained that the department was aided by volunteer officers on those nights to help curb what has become a rowdy “club scene.”
And other areas of town are not being ignored, Bryden explained. “The Valley,” as the Shadelands/Northgate/Woodlands area is called, is patrolled just as diligently, he said.
“We want to quash the perception that you’re not safe,” Sgt. Conley said.
But the thrust of the meeting was introducing residents to programs such as Neighborhood Watch and Business Watch, collaborations between residents, business owners and police. The Woodlands used to have a Neighborhood Watch program years ago, Sgt. Conley said, and now it’s time to revive it.
He encouraged residents to contact the department about the program at 925-935-6400, or visit the police department's website.
Sgt. Conley also said that he has met with business owners at local shopping centers about a Business Watch program, which operates similarly to Neighborhood Watch. New signs will be posted in the hopes of deterring would-be criminals.
All in all it was an informative meeting for residents. “I feel better,” said Woodlands resident Lori Altabet. “And I am all for setting up Neighborhood Watch programs. In this neighborhood, everyone looks out for people anyway, so this is a chance to make that even stronger.”
Some Safety Tips from WCPD:
- Never leave valuables in your car, and always lock it.
- Park in well-lighted areas
- Ask door-to-door solicitors to see their permits. Legitimate vendors are required to get permits, although they are not required to carry them. However, many reputable vendors require their door-to-door salespeople to carry them.
- Invest in a home alarm and automobile anti-theft devices.
- Err on the side of caution—always contact police if you are unsure about suspicious behavior.