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Fast-Growing Elk Grove Transformed Safety Through Prevention and Engagement

September 30, 2021
Fast-Growing Elk Grove Transformed Safety Through Prevention and Engagement

Elk Grove's overall sense of safety and security hasn’t come about from mere happenstance. Rather, The City’s safety comes from intentionality and lots of hard work. 

"The Elk Grove City Council has adopted four priority goals, one of which specifically focuses on safety. Providing a safe community for Elk Grove is not exclusively done through enforcement, but requires a strong commitment to working with the community through engagement, outreach, and training," said Carrie Whitlock, Strategic Planning and Innovation Program Manager of the City of Elk Grove.

And the efforts of Elk Grove’s leaders have paid off. 

The City regularly conducts The National Community Survey (The NCS) to gather feedback from residents. Data from the survey show that Elk Grove’s residents have become much more pleased with the City’s Safety between 2017 and 2019. Specifically, they have become more satisfied with the overall feeling of safety, crime prevention, and emergency preparedness.

Elk Grove's Transformation in Safety

"I admire how Elk Grove has numerous community programs that increase the perception of safety and offer residents a chance to participate in its enforcement," said Damema Mann, National Engagement Director for Polco/ National Research Center (NRC).

Damema Mann presenting a Voice of the People Award to Elk Grove, California

Elk Grove’s efforts led to a 2020 Voice of the People Award for Transformation in Safety. This is the only national award that honors local governments based on feedback from residents. The award is presented by Polco / National Research Center (NRC) and the International City & County Management Association (ICMA). This award acknowledges local governments that make significant improvements on The NCS ratings and that take the best actions on behalf of their communities.

Why Residents Ranked Elk Grove Highly in the Area of Safety

Since Elk Grove's incorporation in 2000, the City has focused on elevating public safety. Safety became the city's top priority in 2013, when The NCS pointed out that residents wanted this facet of the community improved.

"As with any large or small city, crime continues to persist in Elk Grove. However, the proactive approach by the Elk Grove Police Department (EGPD) in supporting prevention activities and community policing, coupled with a strong commitment to community engagement, supports a strong feeling of safety felt by our community," said Whitlock.

According to the Census Bureau, Elk Grove received a ranking as the fastest growing city in the nation in 2006. This rapid growth in population means that a safe and livable community becomes even more essential. 

Boosting Elk Grove's Safety with EGPD

Elk Grove’s City Council believes local law enforcement agencies are not the only people responsible for a safe community. Instead, the council encourages residents to participate in creating a secure and resilient community.

"Through extensive outreach and engagement, residents continue to help shape the future of public safety policies and procedures. Not only will this level of participation help to ensure continued success in this area, but it will help strengthen trust and loyalty in the city of Elk Grove," said Whitlock.

The EGPD is at the heart of this implementation, launching a variety of programs and activities such as:

Citizens Academy

The Academy is a 10-week course where attendees meet for a maximum of three hours every week. They learn about different aspects of municipal policing, such as forensics and more. Academy students can ride along and get first-hand information from detectives. They also participate in a simulator and get to use actual guns, but not live bullets. Since its inception, more than 240 individuals have graduated from Elk Grove's Citizens Academy.

Mobile Crisis Support Team (MCST)

Local law enforcement agencies and the Sacramento County Division of Behavioral Health Services (DBHS) collaborated to form the Mobile Crisis Support Team. Funded by DBHS, the goal of this program is to mitigate mental health crises in the community.

Members of the team include licensed mental health professionals and specially trained officers. Furthermore, TLCS, Inc. provides the team with a Peer Navigator, which offers additional support. It ensures that individuals with potential mental health needs have enough support in accessing care systems and other appropriate services.

Volunteers in Police Services (VIPS)

EGPD's mission on this program is to work in partnership with the community in protecting both life and property – ultimately enhancing the quality of life in the city.

Volunteers who join this program support the department by giving non-enforcement services such as Elder Fraud Awareness classes and performing house checks for residents on vacation. As a result, sworn officers can focus on their primary mission of enforcing state and city laws, as well as crime prevention.

UAS Program

Also known as the drone program, Elk Grove launched the UAS program in 2019 to provide various benefits, including public safety and life preservation missions. The drone units proved invaluable in monitoring traffic incidents and covering escape routes when serving search warrants.

The technology allowed the police to be able to identify illegal fireworks on the 4th of July.

"The drones provide the bird's eye view to be able to see a broader area of the city," said Elk Grove Police Officer Jason Jimenez.

Explorer Program

The Elk Grove Police Explorer program encourages and supports the city's younger residents interested in public safety careers. Individuals must be between 14 and 21 years old, have completed the 8th grade, and be physically fit to join the program.

They designed the program to offer hands-on knowledge of how the police function within the community. This action-oriented career discovery program helped former members achieve successful careers in college, law enforcement, and the military.

Animal Shelter

Elk Grove continues to introduce new services, such as the Elk Grove Animal Shelter. Completed in October 2019, this police department facility took in more than 900 animals in the first three months of operation.

The work of the EGPD isn’t done.

“The EGPD continues to work on innovative ways to promote public safety, prevent crime, and connect with the community,” said Whitlock.

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