At the Pleasanton City Council meeting held on September 3, a group of concerned business owners addressed the council during the Citizen’s Comments section.
Prior to that, Doug Best (Councilman District 1) asked City Manager Bruce Pearson during the discussion of the proposed budget for fiscal year 2015-2016, what the City is doing on the budget with the police force.
Pearson responded that there is an increase from last year’s budget, the department’s staffing remains static due to his discussions with Chief Ronald Sanchez. He believes the staffing is adequate and there have been some changes in the command structure.
Council could not remark, discuss nor take action during this time.
Catie Blaha, owner of Virginia Twins Garden Market, opened by thanking the council to hear her concerns. Her business was burglarized two different times in less than a week. She thanked the police department for arresting one of the suspects, but wants the second person arrested. She is concerned that the police force is understaffed and that safety vests are not up to standard. She also suggested on a way to educate people on how to protect themselves by getting serial numbers on equipment and engrave information on their items to help indentify.
Mary Yow, owner of Riata Cleaners, said that her husband’s truck was broken into July 4 while he was repairing something at their shop. She had to bag up the hammer used to be fingerprinted and take to the department. While the officers were always kind, she felt they were lacking in their follow-up. She mentioned an employee that had been filmed on surveillance allegedly taking money. She had found out that she was caught at another business for the same incident, yet is still free.
Amando Davila, coowner of Once Upon a Time, was broken into on Monday, August 31. They lost approximately $1,000 in damages. He thanked the officers and commented that they were helpful. They arrested a suspect and he heard that he had been released the same day. He has heard that the police department is understaffed. He is concerned about the majority of the businesses downtown are managed by women, plus a dance studio with children. There are strange people who walk up and down the street and he while he realizes the force is doing the best they can, he would like to see more patrolling in their area.
Cindy Carr, who owns Nest Feathers, commended the police on their efforts but she said that they are scared. Her neighbor to the right was broken into last week and now her neighbor to the left was broken into. Sissy’s has been broken into three times and both pharmacies have been broken into. “I employ eight lovely women who work at my shop and some are now too afraid to work,” said Carr. “I’m debating whether to stay open because I’m worried about my staff,” she continued. She also mentioned strange people coming into the shop.
Eileen Horwedel, owner of Three Sisters also complimented the police. “You put your life on the line every single day, and it breaks my heart – that as hard as you’re working – you need more support than what you’re getting,” said Horwedel. She called 9-1-1 to report a suspicious man walking and cursing in the middle of Main Street, and was placed on hold. There was no follow up.
Susan Phillips, who owns The Good Health Store, wanted the council to know how many break-ins there have been.
She said that since August 12 there have been 10 break-ins: Virginia Twins (twice), Genesis Health Center, Center Pharmacy, Cutting Corner, Sissy’s (three times), Once Upon a Time and Rexco Pharmacy. “I do want to let Mr. Pearson and Chief Sanchez know that we have had terrific followup. Lt. Cole and Officer Ruple have been very good in keeping us informed,” said Phillips.
David Padilla, a law enforcement officer, did not state that the department is understaffed, but was hoping the budget would include more for the officers and for equipment. He hopes that improvements can be made to keep the officers they have.
Jimmy Magel, who owns Rexco Pharmacy, was hit three times. On Saturday night, his exterior lights were taken. On Monday night, Sissy’s was broken into.
On Tuesday night, suspicious activity was reported and the police apprehended one of the suspects. He offered if there was anything as a downtown merchant they could do, to let them know.
A follow-up contact with Chief Sanchez confirmed that there are currently 22 officers and there are some applicants currently in the hiring process. As far as the safety vests not being up to standard, he said that all safety vests are purchased by the department and are replaced every five years.