BARSTOW, Calif., December 27, 2022 (Newswire.com) - As time inches closer to the development of the largest railway hub in the west in Barstow, the City of Barstow's police chief is making enormous strides in safety improvements throughout the city, including the launch of a Crime Impact Team.
Barstow Police Chief Andy Espinoza, who has been at the helm of the department for just over a year, is implementing various programs and tactics to address crime as the city readies for a positive economic development surge from BNSF Railway's plans.
The key change has been going towards "more of a strategic-focused, data-driven, evidence-based policing," Espinoza said. With more police officers now assigned to specific beats and different areas of the city, stronger relationships and community ties are being developed, rather than when the officers were sent to calls throughout the entire city.
"We started being more proactive and addressing hot spots and locations where crime was happening, and the same officers are addressing them and conducting the follow up," Espinoza said. "We made it a priority to staff a specialized Crime Impact Team, putting cops in the right areas to help prevent crime."
Currently, the City of Barstow has 47 sworn officers and 20 non-sworn professionals, including dispatchers, technicians and clerks. The department would currently like to hire five more police officers, and then this number will continue to rise once the population increases from the BNSF Railway development over the next few years.
Each month, the police department reviews crime data with the entire patrol staff and detectives and then beefs up policing in certain locations needing it. Aside from this, Espinoza said several other measures are being taken to thwart crime and develop relationships with community members.
Among the measures are:
- Added automated license plate readers on busy streets to help find suspects and solve crimes.
- Initiated a part-time Homeless Outreach Proactive Enforcement (HOPE) team. This team allows officers to be proactive with the homeless and help them connect to needed services, such as shelter, bus tickets or food. This approach "gets ahead of problems" stemming from the homeless before the department receives complaint calls from citizens.
- A Chief Advisory Board has been formed so the chief can receive input from community members, including educators, social workers, business owners and former police officers.
- "Coffee with a Cop" is held every quarter, and "Tacos with a Cop" takes place at different times throughout the year. This strengthens relationships with residents.
- Officers work with Barstow youth by taking part in industry youth coaching at the high school. The officers mentor students and work on projects with them to aid with their future workforce success.
- The Police Activity League (PAL) raises funds for toys to deliver to children on Christmas Eve each year. PAL has been in the department for about 20 years.
Espinoza said other programs are in the works, including the development of a Community Action Team to work in community relations and target different apartment complexes in the city. The goal would be to generate a crime-free multi-housing division and certify the units.
"We have made great strides in addressing criminal activity in our city, and the results are already showing with property crimes trending much lower," he said. "As our city will go through a major change with the BNSF project and enormous population growth, we will be steadfast in ensuring the safety of our residents."
BNSF Railway plans to invest more than $1.5 billion to construct a state-of-the-art master-planned rail facility in Barstow. The Barstow International Gateway will be an approximately 4,500-acre new integrated rail facility on the west side of Barstow, consisting of a rail yard, intermodal facility and warehouses for transloading freight from international containers to domestic containers. When completed, the city expects it will double in size from 25,000 residents to 50,000.
Source: City of Barstow