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Dealing with Crime: City Council Candidates Weigh-in

City Council candidates discuss how they view crime in Palo Alto.

As one of the safest cities in the Bay Area, Palo Alto is not impacted by many of the major crime problems that affect other areas. The city does not have a substantial gang or graffiti problem; residents generally feel safe to walk around the streets at all hours of the day.

However, Palo Alto has not been immune from crime.

In 2010, a woman sleeping in her car after an evening at the bars was kidnapped, and taken to a Santa Clara elementary school where she was assaulted and raped by convicted felon , a Santa Clara resident.

Early 2011 was dominated by a string of , nearly all committed by residents of surrounding cities.  As is typical with wealthier communities, property crime, particularly burglary, is often a problem.

In the first half of 2012, Palo Alto has seen a 63% increase in home burglaries, from 71 to 116 incidents, according to a San Mateo County Times report.

Candidates for Palo Alto City Council gave few specifics on how they would deal with the issue of crime; they praised the approaches employed by the

Council Member Greg Schmid, who is seeking re-election, embraced the role of technology in policing. According to Schmid, increasing emphasis on technology can give the police more data on crime, which may allow them to be better prepared in the event of a disruption.

Incumbent Council Member Pat Burt praised the Palo Alto Police for being better engaged with the community and thus effectively receiving tips from community members.

Other candidates did not think that crime was a major issue in Palo Alto. 

“Palo Alto has virtually no crime,” said Liz Kniss, who is currently a supervisor in Santa Clara County with an eye on the Palo Alto City Council dais.

Nonetheless, Kniss recognized that residents are sensitive about crime and said that there are certain tactics employed at the county level that can be used effectively by Palo Alto. She declined to go into specifics, saying that she would save the details for if she is elected.

Overall, serious crime in Palo Alto has steadily decreased nearly every year for the past 10 years, according to a Palo Alto Police report from April. The report measures crimes such as homicide, assault and burglary.

This article is one of a series of articles that explores how City Council Candidates view local issues.

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Wayne Martin August 15, 2012 at 02:47 PM
It would be interesting to see where these candidates actually get their information about "crime" in Palo Alto. The Palo Alto police does not produce an annual performance report, other than the few statistics that are in the Auditor's Annual Report. The City of Mountain View produces a nice police report-- http://www.scribd.com/doc/81476031/Mountain-View-CA-Police-Annual-Report-2010 None of these candidates seem remotely interested in requiring the Palo Alto Police to produce a similar report, which would provide every one with hard data about police activity, and results. Liz Kniss seems almost detached from Palo Alto in her comments.
Vanessa Castañeda August 15, 2012 at 06:46 PM
@Wayne, Palo Alto publishes year over year crime statistics in the Police Department's section of the city's website (http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/depts/pol/info/stats.asp). Maybe they pulled them from there. Is this the kind of data you seek?

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