Pubdate: Fri, 07 May 2004
Source: North County Times (CA)
Copyright: 2004 North County Times
Author: Ken Ma


FALLBROOK - Two longstanding community programs have fallen victim
to a spike in the property crime rate and the county's dwindling
budget, authorities said this week.

The Fallbrook Sheriff's Substation has eliminated the Drug Abuse
Resistance Education program, better known as DARE, and the Community
Oriented Policing and Problem Solving program after it lost four
deputy positions over the last year. Two of the four deputy positions
were used to handle the DARE program and two to administer the COPPS

The two COPPS deputies have been reassigned to beef up street patrols
and address a growing property crime rate and an increase in 911 calls
for service, sheriff's Lt. Clyde Kodadek said. The DARE deputies have
been reassigned to positions elsewhere within the Sheriff's Department.

Property crime in this unincorporated area increased 27 percent from
17.3 crimes per 1,000 residents in 2002 to 21.9 crimes per 1,000 in
2003, according to an annual report released this week by the
substation. Those crimes - burglary, larceny theft and motor
vehicle theft - were largely responsible for the 20 percent
increase in Fallbrook's overall crime rate, from 20.1 crimes per 1,000
residents in 2002 to 24.1 crimes per 1,000 in 2003, the report shows.

Property crimes increased in all three categories. Burglary increased
between 2002 to 2003 from 291 total cases to 378; larceny theft
increased from 421 cases to 561; and motor vehicle theft increased
from 123 cases to 129.

Extra deputy presence is needed on the streets because the Fallbrook
substation lacks the resources to run special operations to tackle
property crimes, Kodadek said. Larger sheriff's jurisdictions, such as
Vista and San Marcos, have the luxury of using their own decoy cars
and undercover operations to catch criminals. Fallbrook deputies
depend on regional resources such as the North County gang and auto
theft task forces.

Without the DARE and COPPS programs, the lieutenant said, the
substation is not able to provide drug abuse education to elementary
students and meet with residents on a regular basis to address their
public safety concerns.

"It's less law enforcement officers in the community and that always
hurts," Kodadek said. "But we are trying to do the best we can with
our resources."

Craig Schmad, Iowa Street School's principal, said the DARE deputies
were a positive influence on fifth-graders in the Fallbrook Union
Elementary School District. Interaction with deputies, he said,
provided kids with a good perception of law enforcement and has helped
steer some students away from drugs and crime.

"It's definitely a loss," he said, adding that the school district
will use a state education grant to continue providing drug resistance

The loss of the COPPS program, sheriff's Sgt. Cliff Johnson said, has
limited the deputies' abilities to work on crime issues with a
problem-solving approach. Now, the deputies' main priority is to
answer radio calls for service, even though all patrol deputies have
been asked to incorporate community policing ideas whenever possible.

Although the community-policing program has been discontinued,
residents can still use the services of a civilian crime prevention
specialist, whose job is to consult residents and businesses about
ways to secure their property, Johnson said.

"We still have resources and we are not giving up," he

Although the COPPS and DARE programs have been cut, the Fallbrook
station has had a sergeant's position added and there are plans to add
two canine deputy positions in the future, Kodadek said. The new
sergeant was reassigned to Fallbrook from another sheriff's command at
no expense.

"That (the sergeant's position) was a no-cost thing; it was a
reassignment from one command to another," the lieutenant said. "The
COPPS and DARE thing was money-saving."

In other areas of the annual report, violent crime - homicide,
rape, robbery and aggravated assault - decreased 21 percent from
2.8 crimes committed per 1,000 residents in 2002 to 2.2 crimes per
1,000 in 2003.

Violent crime in every category went down. Murder decreased between
2002 and 2003 from two total cases to one; rape decreased from 11
cases to 10; robbery decreased from 26 cases to 21; and aggravated
assault decreased from 95 cases to 75.

Kodadek said he believes the decrease can be partially attributed to
the impact of California's Three Strikes Law, which make offenders
eligible for a life sentence in prison following a third felony conviction.

"Three Strikes is meant for the criminal that should be out of
society," the lieutenant said. 
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