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Local opinion columnists

Serious about violent crime? Step up

By From page A8 | April 27, 2014

Many factors have come together in recent years to turn parts of Fairfield into battles zone of sorts.

Drugs. Kids out on the streets when they should be in school. A culture that desensitizes children to violence. The ready availability of guns, either stolen or imported from outside the area. A culture where people think it’s OK to witness deadly violence and do nothing about it. A justice system that leads some to believe there are no serious consequences for their actions, and where doing time in juvenile hall serves as a badge of honor.

The fact of the matter is, if you’re between the ages of 13 and 30, and you’ve come of age in a crime-prone part of the community and either skip school or have dropped out of school, you’re at risk of being not only a perpetrator of sometimes-deadly violence, but a victim of it as well.

Major crime in Fairfield is concentrated in a number of known areas, although we all know that violent crime can happen anywhere. Those involved tend to be pretty young, as evidenced by the suspects and victims in recent shootings.

The situation is not hopeless, and certainly not for the majority of the community’s teens and young adults. Police Chief Walt Tibbet puts it this way:

“The bottom line: If you’re not selling dope, if you’re not truant from school, if you’re not hanging with people with guns, you’re going to do pretty good in Fairfield,” he said.

What we’re experiencing in Fairfield is not unique to Fairfield. It’s not just a police problem, either. Rather, it’s a problem for the schools and for the larger community. Tibbet said police can go into a neighborhood and knock heads, but that does little to change a culture that glorifies drug use and violence. Making arrests curbs violent crime in the short term, but does little to deter the next generation from repeating the mistakes of the previous generation.

That said, the police are ramping up. The department has hired a new sergeant to head up a second street team that will hit the streets soon. The second team will allow for coverage seven days a week so the department can flood violence-prone hot spots in the community. These officers, reassigned from other duties, will move where they’re needed to help prevent serious crime before it happens.

There’s more, cosmetic in nature but still important. The city set aside $100,000 a year to fund neighborhood improvements such as lighting and cameras. This money has been used to add cameras in trouble spots such as Parkway Gardens and along Dana Drive, among other things. Residents can help by making sure street lights are functioning properly, and reporting when they aren’t to the city or their homeowners association, whichever is applicable; and by promptly notifying police of suspicious activity.

The department is also adding two new positions to boost a homeless/blight outreach team.

Fairfield and the Fairfield-Suisun School District are working together to build a long-term, sustainable program to keep children in school and on track while in school, and to get children the services they need to succeed.

There are many pieces to this part of the puzzle: Youth programs through the Police Activities League and the Matt Garcia Youth Center; the various offerings at the Sullivan Interagency Youth Services Center; new positions within the district to combat truancy; the Public Safety Academy model, which is so successful that the district is looking to move it to a larger site to accommodate more students; and other youth-based programs such as Fun on the Run, Place to be After Three, and cooperative efforts with The Leaven after-school program.

“If it’s the school district operating by themselves, if we operate by ourselves, we’re doomed to continue this cycle,” Tibbet said.

These items and more will be laid out before the public during a community crime meeting that starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Willow Hall at the Fairfield Community Center, 1000 Kentucky St.

If you’re concerned about the recent violence, clear your schedule and come be part of the solution.

Reach Managing Editor Glen Faison at 427-6925 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GlenFaison.

Glen Faison

Glen Faison

Glen Faison joined the Daily Republic as managing editor in September 2009. He previously worked as a reporter and editor for daily and weekly newspapers in the San Joaquin Valley for 20-plus years. His experience includes time as editor of the Golden Eagle, a military paper serving the Lemoore Naval Air Station. He graduated from Fresno State University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and bleeds Bulldogs red. He is an avid fan of the NFL's Washington team, and attended the 1988 NFC Championship Game against the Minnesota Vikings at RFK Stadium. He's a member of the Fairfield-Suisun Twilight Rotary Club and a board member for the Solano County Library Foundation. He married his wife, Jill, in 2005, and has three children: Courtni, Tyler and Hayli.

Discussion | 12 comments

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  • archieApril 27, 2014 - 3:50 am

    Nice article Glen,,,,,,,,,, only question is "ramping up with a second street team"? How do these street teams differ from normal patrol? Is it like a gang unit or swat?

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  • Tax PayerApril 27, 2014 - 6:12 am

    All the second street team will do is go into the neighborhoods and "knock some heads" more. The key to all of this violence is the creation of families in the neighborhoods. This will not happen as women are having babies by numerous males that have no interest in family. Women have them to get more government money per child. Simple as that, but isn't going to start to even change in the next few generations, only get worse. We'll need additional "Swat teams" in the future with more armored vehicles to go into these neighborhoods. Examples: Detroit, Chicago, Oakland, Richmond... They will ask for more help from the federal government. They will tax us even more to pay for these services. Simple as that!

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  • CD BrooksApril 27, 2014 - 7:46 am

    Sorry, still not hearing anything about the most crucial component...traffic.

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  • Rich GiddensApril 27, 2014 - 8:49 am

    Mr. Faison is spouting the same old same old. I propose ending both the welfare State and the illegal alien sanctuary State. That will be followed by the dismantling of the Police State! Mr. Faison is a government shill---he represents the ugly disloyal face of the government media complex---the folks that only offer you and promote Candidate X and Y while Candidate Z offers you the Rx you need to cure your obvious ills!

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  • 2realApril 27, 2014 - 9:06 am

    Let me explain the gang issue we have in fairfield, since the fpd doesnt inform us. I did my homework. Here are some of the gangs we have. Vcf- varrio centro fairlas, vwz- varrio war zone, pwl- parkway locos, esg- east side gangsters, csm- calle san marcos, gcm- grande circle mafia, wsf- west side flats, bb- bristol boys. The list goes on and on. The problems in the gangs. Period

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  • My2centsApril 27, 2014 - 9:38 am

    Most city's problems cannot be linked to a single factor. Until citizens put their egos aside along with their need to be right, and work together to develop a multi-focused strategy that includes adequate law enforcement resources, early childhood intervention and education, after school resources for education and recreational activities, a commitment to eliminate blight, city zoning ordinances to address the concentration of drug related testing and treatment facilities in Fairfield, enforcement of laws already in place, and incentivizing the actions we want to see in Fairfield, things will not improve. Each of us is responsible for working towards these and other positive goals. I am so sick of reading the same whining and criticizing with by citizens making on real contribution to improving Fairfield. Get out there and make a difference. It's YOU we need. All of you.

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  • Mr. SmithApril 27, 2014 - 10:29 am

    M2C: Assuming you are an average citizen like me and not in law enforcement or on the city council, which two or three of your eight (or so) strategies are you actively pursuing in order to make this city better? Maybe your response will give the rest of us some incentive.

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  • My2centsApril 27, 2014 - 11:10 am

    MS-I am "just" an average citizen but I believe I can, and do, make a difference in our city. It starts with me. Do what you can. It's not a competition it's a community.

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  • Mr. SmithApril 27, 2014 - 1:34 pm

    M2C: I didn't use the phrase, "just an average citizen," you did. My point is, we average citizens have few effective tools to combat the gangbanging sewer rats and pseudo-homeless bums that exist in nearly overwhelming numbers in this city. I notice you didn't mention having any of those tools, either. I do not mean to denigrate your thinking or your sincerity here.

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  • JagApril 27, 2014 - 10:16 am

    All of these people have one thing in common ,, Low rent ,, We need to go after these apartment owners to fix up the property in order to get the rent up stop the section 8 housing and push the gang and the un wed mother with all of these kids out of Fairfield,

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  • boomApril 27, 2014 - 12:07 pm

    @Glen-Off Topic and I know that you probably don't do user requests(especially when they use a pseudo username),but could you possibly look into if any of our current council members, city management or county supervisors currently own any properties or are landlords in any of these dubious neighborhoods. The public imho, should be informed as to if any of our leaders are profiting off of being a slumlord in our city. Thank you.

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  • FedUpApril 28, 2014 - 7:34 pm

    2real, I was wondering where you got your information on all the gang names (in Fairfield)? This is information I have never read about (all these gangs names). I would like to research further.

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