After more than two months on the job, Chief Tim Foley is starting to get a feel for the Nevada City Police Department’s enforcement priorities.
The most important issues currently facing his officers, Foley said, include responding to emergency calls, maintaining a high quality of life, and enforcing drug laws.
Nevada County is a known marijuana production zone, but Nevada City has also had issues with the use and distribution of heroin and methamphetamine.
Foley also has some concerns around the use of alcohol, and drinking establishments that might be overserving problem customers.
“You know when somebody has had too much,” Foley said.
“There’s been a perception by some that it’s OK to keep serving somebody, and that’s not OK. It becomes a disservice to the individual, and a danger to the public at large,” he said.
“It leads to fights, it leads to drunk drivers, it leads to accidents.”
The risks involved are significant. So far, however, Foley has had good results from reaching out to the businesses in question.
“I’ve had conversations with several bars in town, owners and managers, (and) expressed my concerns with the way they’re conducting business,” Foley said. “Most of them have been compliant, and they’re working with us to be good neighbors.”
The Nevada City Police Department has also invited them to a four-hour training with the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, to ensure that bar workers are aware of their responsibilities.
Foley came to the Nevada City Police Department during the height of this winter’s controversy over the Commercial Street boardwalk.
Many of the people advocating for the boardwalk’s removal argued that it was becoming a hub for marijuana smoking and other drug-related activity.
Foley says his officers have surveilled the boardwalk, writing tickets when appropriate.
But after looking into the issue and moving on to bigger problems, he said the boardwalk is not a major draw on police resources.
“I think there is drug activity there,” Foley said. “We’ve had reports on it and we’ve been following up on these things, but so far it hasn’t borne any fruit.
“I don’t think there’s any more or less than anywhere else in the city.”
During the run-up to the boardwalk debate before the Nevada City Council, some claimed to have witnessed the use of hypodermic needles — but those accounts have not been corroborated by the experience of local law enforcement.
“They’re not going to shoot up on the boardwalk, necessarily,” Foley told The Union. “That would be pretty blatant and pretty out there.”
That kind of problem does occur — but it happens elsewhere around the city in less high-profile locations.
“It occurs in bathrooms, it occurs in parks, it occurs in out-of-the-way places where it’s not in the public eye,” Foley said.
Foley said that criminal activity in the vicinity of the boardwalk may become more of an issue later this year, when people drift into town this summer.
Organizers of the Boardwalk Side Kick Team, an upstart volunteer group hoping to mitigate some of the complaints about what’s happening on Commercial Street, have also expressed concerns about people passing through town for the marijuana harvest and so-called trim season.
For now, Chief Foley sees the boardwalk as a place for police officers to make contact with members of the public and make their presence felt in a positive way.
To contact staff writer Dave Brooksher, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4230.