If anyone thought Susanville residents concerned about public safety were going to slip away quietly, they were sorely mistaken.
Dozens of residents attended the Susanville City Council’s Wednesday, Aug. 16 meeting, and they continued to press the council to take action to stop the crime in the city.
Pat Holley presented a call to action signed by several residents to the council and said he plans to take his concerns to the Lassen County Board of Supervisors as well.
According to Holley’s prepared statement, “This is a request to our community and to public officials in the city of Susanville and Lassen County to come together by forming a working group to review, develop and adopt policies and programs to improve public safety, recognize victims’ rights and improve the quality of life in Susanville and Lassen County.”
Holley said many residents are “frustrated and angry about our inability to reduce crime.” He encouraged government departments and entities to work together to see that justice is served.
”There is a criminal element that is dedicated to remaining addicted and /or engaged in a lifestyle where drug or alcohol addiction is paramount,” Holley wrote. “This also goes hand in hand with (the) abuse of social welfare programs, theft as a profession and avoidance and even contempt for society and the norms of a functioning society such as work ethic and respect for property and respect for other people.”
According to Holley, “The challenge to our community is how do we curb and reduce this criminal behavior and make our streets and communities not only safe but improve our overall quality of life.”
While Holley praised the men and women of law enforcement and said recently enacted state laws make their job more difficult, “Current conditions leave us with a number of very dangerous and violent criminals out on their own recognizance or on probation in drug court which allows them to continue their trade in crime; many have re-offended while on probation … The district attorney, the police department, the sheriff’s department are overwhelmed by all of this as well and need additional resources and support from city and county leaders and the community.”
Holley recommended dangerous and violent criminals should not be placed on probation or tried in drug court; a major crimes task force should be formed; lower level crimes should be dealt with; and, someone should deal with the “large numbers of drug and alcohol addicted people” on Main Street.
Resident Darrell McChamber said he has volunteered to work in the district attorney’s office, and he wondered if people could also volunteer to assist the police department. In addition, he suggested the city could install cameras in problem areas to collect evidence.
John King, the city’s police chief, said his department recently restarted its Explorer program, and the city already uses cameras, but he declined to reveal their locations.
Resident Gary Bridges, a Depot 6 neighborhood watch leader, said his group has had great success in reducing crime in his neighborhood. He said unfortunately, the criminal element has simply moved into the surrounding area.
And he said five homeless people were seen fleeing an empty residence that recently burned just before the fire was discovered.
“I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired,” Bridges said.
An unidentified resident said there was “a lot of anger” in the community and many have lost confidence in their elected officials.
Complaining about homeless people sleeping out in public, she said, “We’re not some third-world country. What is this?”