EDITORIAL: San Rafael police crackdown near transit center was needed
Apr 13, 2012 (The Marin Independent Journal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
THE RESULTS of a four-week police crackdown on criminal activity in downtown San Rafael would indicate the attention was needed -- and worth the effort.
Police made 79 arrests for a variety of crimes. They included robberies, drug dealing, public intoxication, parole violations and outstanding warrants.
Officers even stopped a purse-snatching and chased down five suspected drug dealers.
The focus of the crackdown was the busy downtown transit station and the surrounding blocks.
A recent spike in crime-related calls in the area resulted in the extra attention, which included the use of undercover detectives and probation officers. Local merchants are appreciative of the additional police presence.
One Third Street merchant said the environment is "considerably better" thanks to the crackdown. Another said the police department's visibility helped discourage groups of young drug dealers who were gathering and hanging out in the area.
The crime-fighting squad and new chief Dana Bishop should take pride in those assessments.
San Rafael now needs to make sure this is a permanent change and that criminal activity does not creep back up to the previous level.
The county District Attorney's Office says it will seek a "stay-away" order aimed at keeping arrested lawbreakers nabbed in the crackdown from hanging out around the transit center. That should help, together with
continued police patrols.
The roughly 10,000 bus riders who pass through the transit center every day should feel safe while waiting for a bus or walking home or to their cars from the center. The city and the transit center's owner, the Golden Gate Bridge District, should make the safety of its public transit users "our utmost concern," as a district official put it.
We agree. And if use of public transit is going to increase, the center area cannot afford to develop a reputation for being an area with criminal activity.
As part of that effort, San Rafael's Police Department plans to work with the bridge district in installing video surveillance at the center, a crime-prevention tool that appears to be overdue.
The number of arrests is one way to measure the success of this effort, but the best gauge is when transit riders, store owners and shoppers feel comfortable while waiting and walking in that part of downtown San Rafael.
___ (c)2012 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.) Visit The Marin
Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.) at www.marinij.com Distributed by MCT
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