Beware bad boys: There’s a new chief in town; and the whole community’s watching

Most of us in town probably know Kevin Jones, recently appointed police chief by the Susanville City Council.

Jones, who told the Susanville Rotary Club last week he wasn’t born in Susanville but he’s lived here since he was 6, is a seasoned veteran officer who has served with the Susanville Police Department, the Lassen County Sheriff’s Office and as an investigator for the Lassen County District Attorney’s Office.

Jones told the Rotary Club members he’s had other opportunities to work in other places, but he’s stayed here because of his love for Susanville and Lassen County.

It shouldn’t be hard for most people in Susanville to agree with Jones’ primary goal as the new chief — to make the community safer. And he’s calling on the community to work with the police to battle crime in the city.

While that might seem like a goal for anyone assuming the police chief duties, Jones has a plan to help us get there — and he said to make it work, the department needs to be “one with the community.”

“Sometimes we lose track of our jobs and the way our culture changes,” Jones told Rotary Club members. “Sometimes a little bit of old fashioned is good, and we’re going to do that.”

For example, Jones said the department will go back to “focused and concentrated patrols” that emphasize contacts with people on the street at 2 or 3 a.m.

While profiling may be a bad word in some law enforcement circles, Jones said the department will use profiling as a tool, but, “We profile in a good way. We profile behaviors. We don’t profile people, we don’t profile skin colors, genders or anything — we profile behavior.”

Jones said the idea is to contact and engage with those people who show signs of criminal behavior so if a crime does occur, the department knows who was in the area.

Jones also addressed the problem of homelessness and said residents should not give the homeless money but try find another way to address their needs.

He acknowledged homelessness is not a crime, but he said, “As everyone in this room I think knows, homelessness does turn into crime, whether it’s squatting, whether it’s going into businesses and failing to leave after they’ve been told. We do have a resource issue here. We don’t have a lot of options for homeless people.”

Jones said having officers out on patrol is another priority. And officers will focus on problems in the city — such as watching traffic near schools when children are coming and going and making contact with people out walking the streets late at night or early in the morning.

The new chief holds a meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24 at the Lassen Senior Center, 1700 Sunkist Drive, where he will address crime trends in the city and ask residents to continue increased involvement with the Neighborhood Watch programs. While the police can’t be everywhere at once, he said if neighbors keep their eyes and ears open, they can provide important information to law enforcement about what’s happening in their neighborhoods in real time.

The chief said he plans to work with everyone in town to reduce crime.

Jones acknowledged his approach may be a little old fashioned, “but we’re going to do what’s right for the community.

He said residents who have ideas or suggestions may call him at 257-5603.