[Kern County] Grand jury: City should seek more ways to 'curb rising crime

Despite the city of Tehachapi being named the safest city in Kern County, the city should look into more ways "to curb rising crime," according to a recent Kern County grand jury report.

That was the only recommendation the grand jury made in its report about the city, which also recognized other good work. It was issued March 1.

As of November 2018, crime was up 22 percent from previous years, while city officials stated that between 2016 and 2017, Tehachapi had a 34 percent reduction in crime, according to the grand jury report. Many of these crimes are blamed on the fallout of Proposition 47 and Proposition 57, which, respectively, made some non-violent offenses misdemeanors rather than felonies, and allowed more parole and changed some sentencing laws.

“I don't like any increases in crime, but regardless of what the courts or state legislation says, we have to continue to enforce the law and aggressively pursue those committing crimes,” Police Chief Kent Kroeger said.

Kroeger added that drug and property crimes or other Part One offenses put people behind bars, but now those crimes have been reduced to misdemeanors and the offenders are on the street, allowing more people to be victimized.

The city's Police Department expects to launch some new community oriented policing strategies this spring, according to a city news release.

In the past few months, the Tehachapi Neighborhood Improvement Project has been discussed during City Council meetings. The council has heard about and partnerships with companies offering incentives for home owners to install security cameras. They have also heard about plans to help citizens adhere to municipal and building codes in an effort to reduce crime.

As of 2016, the department established its own communication center and has dispatched more than 11,000 calls for emergency and non-emergency service, the report said.

The grand jury also highlighted the city's efforts to combat retail leakage, provided a review of past and current construction projects around the city and noted the city is fiscally responsible.

Retail leakage is a topic the city is combating. The city attended the International Council of Shopping Centers Conference in Las Vegas and the ICSC Los Angeles Deal Making Conference to meet with “potential corporate partners and local developers,” the grand jury report said.

Many construction projects completed or underway are the Flying J Travel Center, Walmart, World Wind and Solar headquarters, Kern County Library, Stay Leaves Tasting Room, Industrial Parkway improvements and more than 10 neighborhood street and sidewalk projects.

“We were pleased at the findings of the grand jury. City staff takes pride in working hard for its citizens. We are proud we have a balanced budget and strive for excellence when managing tax-payers money,” City Manager Greg Garrett said in a news release.

The city of Tehachapi has 90 days to reply to the grand jury report, a standard timeline for such reports.

March 6, 2019

Tehachapi News

By Cara Jackson