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By Cerritos Mayor George Ray
The safety of Cerritos residents is a top priority of the City of Cerritos. The community’s safe and welcoming environment is the result of the collaborative efforts of Cerritos residents, business partners, the Cerritos Sheriff’s Station/Community Safety Center and the City.
For the current fiscal year, the City has budgeted more than $14 million for the ongoing priority of law enforcement and safety services. The City contracts with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Station for an outstanding level of police services. Fifty-nine sworn Sheriff’s deputies, 16 professional staff and five reserve deputies provide law enforcement services for the City. Community Safety services are also provided by City staff. Seven full-time and 42 part-time Community Safety employees provide code enforcement, parking control and crossing guard services.
Cerritos has a long history of providing innovative law enforcement programs that enhance the quality, accessibility and availability of services to both residents and visitors. Cerritos was the first contract city to pioneer the local community station concept, which was a departure from the Sheriff’s regional station model. The Cerritos station was the first to host a local/regional fingerprint identification unit; a strategy that ensures recovered fingerprints are processed within 48 hours. Our station also was one of the first to incorporate the Mobile Digital Computer system for patrol cars, an innovation that increased response times. Additionally, the cities of Cerritos and Lakewood remain stewards of the world’s first helicopter patrol program known as Sky Knight.
Cerritos has always understood that a quality policing operation must be supplemented by community involvement to achieve the most effective crime prevention efforts. This involvement involves four crucial components. First, the City has adopted a comprehensive, long-term crime prevention approach through the ongoing development of outstanding youth-oriented programs. From tot lots to a myriad of sports leagues, youth-oriented self-enrichment classes, our three large parks and our smaller neighborhood parks, the City offers a remarkable array of year-round recreational programs for the youth of Cerritos. Many excellent enrichment programs and classes for youths are also offered at the Cerritos Library.
A second critical component in our crime reduction strategy is community partnerships. In a suburban city of nine square miles with about 15,000 homes and 200 miles of streets, deputies must be supported by community involvement for effective crime deterrence. The Sheriff’s Department informs our residents about trends in neighborhood crime through an active Neighborhood Watch Program. While our patrol deputies can respond rapidly to trouble, thousands of informed and involved residents can be much more effective in preventing crime from occurring in the first place. In addition, the Neighborhood Watch volunteers are supported by the Volunteers on Patrol program, which gives our Sheriff’s deputies extra “eyes and ears” in our neighborhoods.
A third component of our law enforcement program is the support of the Sheriff’s Department, which responds to crimes that have occurred and prevents additional crime from occurring. Sheriff’s command officers and supervisors, special assignment officers and detectives meet weekly to scrutinize crime maps and statistics. Spikes or clusters of crime are analyzed in order to detect patterns or trends and to develop reduction strategies.
The final component consists of soliciting input from the City’s Community Safety Committee members and from the public during regularly scheduled Towne Hall meetings.
Throughout the years, it has been well established that crime is a result of numerous social factors, and there appears to be no single approach or strategy to preventing crime. However, a commitment to our youth, the support of our residents in preventing neighborhood crime, and an efficient response to emerging crime problems are all critical components that can minimize crime. Through these efforts, we can achieve the safest Cerritos possible and continue to provide a secure living environment for our families.
If you aren’t already a member of Neighborhood Watch, please join and help make Cerritos even safer. For information, call the City’s Community Safety Division at (562) 916-1266. The Cerritos Sheriff’s Station is also seeking Volunteers on Patrol (VOPs). VOPs patrol the City in distinctly marked vehicles and assist with crime suppression, traffic control, vacation checks, special events and park security checks. They also train as first responders in the event of a major emergency or disaster. For information on becoming a VOP, contact the Cerritos Sheriff’s Station at (562) 860-0044.
Residents may also join the Virtual Block Club (VBC) to receive immediate BOLOs (Be on the Lookout) when appropriate, weekly crime summaries and maps, regular crime prevention tips, emergency preparedness training and homeland security training. To join the Virtual Block Club, please visit safercerritos.com and fill out and submit the on-line form. If you would like to learn more about crime in your neighborhood or receive customized crime alerts, please visit crimemapping.com.
For safety tips, I encourage you to visit the Safer Cerritos website located at safercerritos.com. The website offers links to crime prevention tips and videos, emergency preparedness information, vacation security check request forms and information about how you can become more involved in supporting public safety efforts.
I encourage Cerritos residents to contact me at City Hall at (562) 860-0311 or to send me an e-mail through the City’s website at cerritos.us and share your suggestions, concerns and questions. I am pleased to talk with Cerritos residents and work with you toward the betterment of our community.
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