Council told theft crimes spiked, fire talks fizzled
At a Tuesday Grass Valley City Council meeting filled with appointments to various committees and grim portrayals of talks with area fire agencies about shared management, Police Chief John Foster reported theft crimes in Nevada County in 2012 spiked significantly.
“As far as crime goes, it is up in the areas of theft, burglary and vehicle theft,” Foster told council members in his quarterly report.
The number of incidents of reported burglaries increased by 62 percent, from 164 to 265 between 2011 and 2012, according to Foster’s figures.
The number of vehicle thefts jumped 44 percent, Foster reported. While there were 45 reported vehicle thefts in 2011, there were 65 in 2012.
Reported robberies also increased slightly, up to 17 in 2012 — four more than the year prior.
Only three areas showed decreased numbers.
Assaults dropped from 217 to 198 between 2011 and 2012; there were two less warrant arrests than 2011’s 339; and citations dropped from 803 to 535 between the two previous years.
Foster told The Union that it is hard to attribute the increase in these areas to any one group. But that hasn’t kept the department from solving more of the crimes than their counterparts in similar-sized communities averaged nationwide.
While only 15 percent of burglaries are solved nationwide, Grass Valley’s police reported a 29.4 percent clearance rate.
“The clearance rate means we are solving the crime,” Foster said. “Our clearance rates are higher than the national average.”
Grass Valley police solved more than 87 percent of the robberies reported to them, much higher than 36 percent national average.
The department also reported a more than 31 percent vehicle theft clearance rate, while the national average is only 17.6 percent.
Foster wasn’t the only public safety leader reporting to the council Tuesday.
City Manager Dan Holler and Grass Valley Fire Chief Tony Clarabut reported to the council prospects aren’t overwhelmingly positive that the town will reach an agreement to share management with Nevada City Fire Department and Nevada County Consolidated — based mostly on the latter’s recent actions.
“At this point, we are not moving forward with a (Joint Powers Agreement) or a contracted arrangement,” Holler said.
When Consolidated’s former Chief Tim Fike left the department in June 2012, Nevada City and Grass Valley, which both have part-time fire chiefs, saw an opportunity to push for a shared management agreement, with one chief overseeing all three agencies.
However, things stalled at the Consolidated level after both cities passed resolutions in favor of such an arrangement.
“I guess there is no secret that it has been a rocky road for the last couple of months,” Clarabut said. “But I think we have turned a corner.”
Last week, Consolidated’s board of directors chose to spend $28,000 on a firefighting consulting firm to conduct an operational audit, find a new fire chief and formulate a transition plan.
If the county-wide Consolidated agency doesn’t want to work with the two cities to share management costs, Holler revealed Tuesday that the Grass Valley and Nevada City have discussed moving ahead with their own shared-management backup plan.
However, Holler told The Union those talks have not gone any further than preliminary discussions.
“We are all codependent,” Clarabut said.
“The only way we can deliver quality service is by working together.”
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236
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