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Chula Vista Police Get High Marks On Survey, But Residents Have Concerns About Homelessness, Drug Use

Cars pass under the Third Avenue sign in downtown Chula Vista, Oct. 7, 2014.

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

Above: Cars pass under the Third Avenue sign in downtown Chula Vista, Oct. 7, 2014.

A new survey of Chula Vista residents shows more than 90 percent of the community is satisfied with the performance of the Chula Vista Police Departmen,t but there are concerns about the city’s homeless population and suspected drug use in the city.

According to the survey, which was conducted by SANDAG, the majority of residents who had recent contact with the CVPD were satisfied with how the incident had been handled. Community members cite the agency’s professionalism and ability to keep the community safe as areas the department excels in.

Listen to this story by Lynn Walsh

CVPD Captain Phil Collum has been working at the department for 25 years. He said the fact that more than 90 percent of those surveyed said they are satisfied with the department shows they are on the right track.

“This survey showed that this community is also proud of our organization and that’s something that makes me very happy,” Collum said.

He said he was especially proud due to the national headlines and news surrounding police officers in recent years.

“To find with all the events that have happened in the last several years that over 90% are satisfied with our service, indicates tremendous support for the work we do in Chula Vista,” he said. “It was incredibly relieving and I am proud of the work all of our men and women do.”

While the department received high marks, the survey shows there are some areas for improvement.

According to the survey, people are avoiding places in the city and do not feel safe walking at night due to the number of homeless in the area and suspected drug use. Areas people are avoiding include parks, shopping centers and trolley stops.

Captain Collum says the challenges of homelessness go beyond the role of a traditional police department.

Photo credit: SANDAG

This graphic released July 23, 2019, shows the type of crimes residents are concerned about and where the crimes are occurring.

“We certainly work very, very hard to lessen the impact of crime as it relates to any homelessness,” Captain Collum said. “We recognize, at the same time, that where homelessness causes a challenge for our community, we're going to try to deploy resources as we have them.”

He said they will continue to work with their homeless outreach team and are looking at possibly expanding the team as well.

The survey also revealed that 41 percent of crime victims didn’t report the crime to police. Reasons they didn’t report, according to the survey, include: not thinking reporting would do any good, the crime being minor or the crime being hard to report. Captain Collum said they actively encourage victims to report crimes and can’t help if they don’t know about the crime.

“It is never a waste of our resources when there is a crime that occurs in our community,” he said. “Our entire job is to respond to you and investigate crimes that occur.”

This is the fifth time SANDAG has conducted a survey like this in Chula Vista, with the last one taking place in 2007.

Captain Collum said the department is going to be working on more community outreach to make sure people know the department has no information to suggest there are issues at parks. He said all of their data suggests crime continues to decrease across the community.

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Aired: July 25, 2019 | Transcript

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