Though many are concerned about crime rates in Sacramento County, there is still a dispute over the best way to handle it. The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department is seeking additional funding in order to improve on police presence in high-risk areas. Others insist that more unconventional measures are the key to bringing down crime in the county.

After a call to quorum, testimony for the public workshop began with Sheriff Scott Jones. Jones believes that improving on County Sheriff’s programs while cooperating with local organizations and communities can significantly cut down on crime.

Jones also highlighted the contrast in services between 2008 and today, after facing layoffs and reduced funding. While he recognized the importance of overall health in a community, the sheriff still called for additional funding for his department in order to increase its capacity to respond to emergencies.

“There are really two components to public safety. One is responding to 911 calls… the second is quality of life issues,” Jones said. “…the overall quality of life of a community has very little to do with our 911 response. You need both components.”

After testimony from the Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney for the county Anne Schubert stepped up to the podium. While acknowledging the need for better emergency response, Schubert also emphasized preventative actions that could be taken outside the Sheriff’s Department.

“Community Government Relations Division… if we can prevent a crime on the front end, we’ll be safer as a community on the other end,” said DA Schubert.

Following the District Attorney was testimony from various community leaders, many working with Sacramento Area Congregations Together, or “ACT.” Pastors, youth organizers and concerned residents all took part in the workshop, some supporting the Sheriff’s Department request for additional funding, while others wanted the Board to consider other approaches.

One such member of the community was Bob Erlenbusch of the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness. In his view, protection and rehabilitation of the County’s homeless has much to do with crime rates and how thinly the Sheriff’s Department is spread.

Pastor Ellis Barbara Banks of the Christian Fellowship Church in Del Paso Heights also spoke to the Board of Supervisors. Banks concentrated on the health and wellbeing of the children in the community as a means of preventing crime.

“Education is the key to all of the stuff we’ve heard today. We’ve got to get them when they are young… but first we’ve got to get them alive… I am more concerned about our babies not living beyond two years.”

To view the entire workshop, click here (begin at 5:02:00)

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