Look around the North State and you would be hard-pressed to find a law enforcement agency that has not been forced cut back officers in recent years. But in small towns like Anderson, losing one or two officers equates to a major portion of the force.
Chief Michael Johnson had a plan when he took over Anderson P.D. five months ago, proactively target problem areas and use every resource possible to make the city safe.
In 2011, major crimes in Anderson were down 15%, but in the 10 months since then, officials say Anderson’s streets are not as safe.
“No definitely not, they are not as safe now, as they were last year, there is no doubt about that, AB 109, despite what some of the positive stuff you may hear about that or spins that are going on that, it is not working,” said Johnson.
Since may, Chief Johnson has been working to combat that problem, using skills he learned as a police Sergeant on the coast and a Police Chief in Amador County.
“Putting Ione together with my Eureka experience, really what I learned is if you are not proactive and not aggressively addressing problems in your community, they get out of control and they get ahead of you,” said Johnson.
Prior to his administration, Johnson says APD. was largely a reactionary police force. They would handle calls, investigate crimes, and book people in jail, but there was not a lot of focus on deterring crime.
“That is really the biggest change that we are making right now, is we are setting up special details where we go out and aggressively address problems,” said Johnson.
He gives an example of drug house that pops up in a good neighborhood.
“It is not just solely law enforcement that is going in there and taking people to jail,” said Johnson.
“You are also looking at the house from a code enforcement standpoint. So if that house is uninhabitable, we're tagging it and asking the homeowner or landowner to make the repairs. We are encompassing the issues from 360 degrees instead of just one avenue,” said Anderson City Manager Jeff Kiser.
Kiser hopes Johnson’s plan of attacking the problem from all angles will make it harder for criminals to commit crimes. He also hopes its effect will last longer than a few hours in jail.
“You are not just asking your officers to solve the problem, you are asking the whole community to solve the problem,” said Kiser.
The program is just now being implemented but it’s already gaining the approval of long time residents, such as Shasta County Supervisor Les Baugh.
“it's the thing I like best about the new chief. Even in tight times, financially, he talking, and he is pushing forward on a plan to retrain and to relearn how to police the city,” said Baugh.
“The trick is to do more with less, and figure out a way to make it work and that is what I am trying to do, like I said, not willing to throw in the towel,” said Johnson.
Johnson plans to implement this approach in several different ways throughout the community. He says, as soon as a problem pops up, they will be ready to tackle it.