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Police Chief Ferguson Says Interest in 'Neighborhood Watch' has Declined

Ferguson tells City Council that participation in the program has dropped over time, and reports a small increase in theft and burglary totals.

told City Council there has been a loss of participation in the Neighborhood Watch program since the inception of the Safe City Plan in 2001.

Chief Ferguson’s 2012 staff report for the plan, presented at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, added that early interest in the program was high with those who had loved ones who had suffered a crime, but that as the “sting of those crimes” wore off, so did participation. 

With initial numbers at around 200, the program has now been redefined and has 59 currently active volunteers.

Theft totals saw a small increase over last year--524 in 2011 compared to 504 in 2010.  Burglary totals increased as well--118 in 2011 compared to 107 in 2010. The increase is a small hitch in the city’s otherwise improving theft and burglary statistics, which have been declining overall since the first Safe City annual report in 2002, and in the case of theft, is the highest number that the city has seen since 2005.

Laguna Niguel's Yearly Burglary and Theft Totals:

Burglary Totals

Theft Totals

2002 = 177

2003 = 165

2002 = 788

2003 = 728

2004 = 142

2004 = 580

2005 = 143

2005 = 600

2006 = 118

2006 = 486

2007 = 134

2007 = 490

2008 = 124

2008 = 464

2009 = 110

2009 = 520

2010 = 107

2011 = 118

2010 = 504

2011 = 524

As police services continue to encourage participation in the city’s safety programs, it has taken several courses of action, including:

  • Analyzing crime reports and contacting individuals with crime prevention tips specific to their case.
  • Provision of “target toughening” advice at the city’s Neighborhood Watch presentations.
  • Analyzing crime reports to determine patterns of victimization.
  • Increased surveillance of areas with higher crime patterns through a Directed Enforcement Team.
  • Dissemination of crime alerts to residents to report recent crimes or trends.

Ferguson reports that it will continue to look for and include new programs that citizens can participate in to increase community safety.  

Funding for safety programs comes from asset forfeiture funds based on narcotic enforcement and a $100,000 annual fund from the SLESF/COPS. Police services will seek to obtain additional funding in the form of grants and has sent three members of the police services staff to a grant writing course.

The current programs available for community participation are:

  1. Public Safety Committee
  2. Police Auxiliary Citizen’s Team (PACT)
  3. Neighborhood Watch Block Captains
  4. Citizen Academy Alumni Association
  5. Disaster Preparedness Graduates-Ready Laguna Niguel
  6. Team Laguna Niguel Responds
  7. Auxiliary Communications Service Team (ACS)

The City Council Also:

The City Council approved plans to restore , the city’s oldest, and will soon be opening bids for contractors.

The decision to restore the park was made last year after the city received from several residents about the condition of its slopes and vegetation.

The city’s Director of Public Works Dave Rogers stated last year that while the city was not at risk of actually losing the slopes in the park, they had been advised by geo-engineers to quit watering the slopes to reduce sloughage, which caused a loss in vegetation. 

Therefore, the cost of repairs, at last report around $300,000, will go entirely toward redoing the landscape to bring the park back to “Laguna Niguel Standards.”

In addition, City Council:

  • Adopted the 2012 weed abatement program, which will declare that weeds growing on or in front of certain properties in the city are a public nuisance and provide for their abatement.
  • Held public hearing and received public testimony for a zoning code amendment addressing non-residential real estate signs. The amendment was not approved and was sent back to staff for additional research. The amendment will be reconsidered by the council on June 19.
  • Adopted Ordinance No. 2012-170 which allows exceptions to the prohibition on parking oversized vehicles on city streets between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Awarded the synthetic sports turf and facilities maintenance contract to Rite, Inc. dba The Perfect Field.
  • Proclaimed May 2012, Older Americans Month in the city of Laguna Niguel.
  • Presented a plaque to the to commemorate 100,000 hours of volunteer service.

The City Council meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the  at City Hall, 30111 Crown Valley Pkwy.

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