Crime Update with Davis Police Department

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Photo Courtesy Don Sherman

By Fatima Perez 

DAVIS, CA – On Thursday December 9, the Davis Chamber of Commerce held a virtual information session and crime update with Davis Police Department Chief of Police Darren Pytel. 

Chief Pytel presented various crimes that the city is currently facing: shoplifting, catalytic converter theft, vehicle theft, vehicle petty thefts (breaking into cars and stealing personal belongings), and vandalism.

Shoplifting has become of great concern to the police department due to organized theft where they are using the “smash and grab” method. This involves individuals raiding the business with trash bags and filling them with merchandise and running out. On Thursday December 9, individuals raided a local CVS using this shoplifting method. Pytel claimed this idea of shoplifting has become more “popular” in Davis recently. 

Catalytic converter thefts have all been reported more frequently though Pytel did not indicate if the rate of thefts had gone up or if they were just being reported more. 

Chief Pytel stated that public “antisocial” behavior is a recurring theme in Davis. According to him, individuals stand outside of businesses and disturb customers. He did not mention why he considered that a crime. He went on to directly label homeless people in Davis as the problem. He said that the homeless community has been reported to conduct this type of behavior allegedly due to drug use. He stated, “The problem with methamphetamine, it wires people and keeps them up and they are the ones doing the burglary and the thefts … trying to get stuff to sell to get the drugs.” Pytel did not cite any sources for this claim. He also did not talk about what the City is doing to address drug addiction in the unhoused folks in Davis beyond criminalizing them which Human Rights Watch called a  “disastrous toll.” 

Pytel also talked about Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) which focuses on changing physical environments to try to reduce crime. Pytel did not cite statistics as to the effectiveness of a program like this. Research findings have been mixed at best.

The City of Davis has also partnered with Bike Index, a bike registry, to reduce the rates of stolen bikes. To participate in the Bike Index, one has to provide serial numbers, proof of ownership and a description of their bike. The database releases a post with bike 

description and serial numbers when one is reported stolen or found. 

Cory Koehler, a representative from the Chamber of Commerce, conducted a Q&A session after Chief Pytel provided the crime update. 

A business member wanted to know when talking to small business owners, “What do you say to retailers? Should they be doing more? What can they do with this type of situation?” because many small businesses do not have set store policies on theft. Chief Pytel strongly recommended not confronting the shoplifter because it can be dangerous. He said the important thing to do in these situations is to report it to the police department.

The next question was from a business owner who asked, “Is there any additional funding that the police department might get next year for additional officers or anything else related to police activity?” 

Chief Pytel stated, “Back in 2020 for COVID when things first hit, the City had to make some pretty difficult decisions and make some cuts…at the time I had some vacant positions and the police department hit was about $1.1 million.” Due to this they had to cut “a record specialist, a dispatcher, a police corporal and two police officers.” 

Pytel claimed the sworn positions were frozen even though City Council said the positions were not in the budget at all at a City Council budget meeting in June of this year. He also did not clarify that the police department gets 30% of the city’s general fund. The long term budget from the City Council budget meeting in June also does not indicate a large budget cut for the police.

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About The Author

Jordan Varney received a masters from UC Davis in Psychology and a B.S. in Computer Science from Harvey Mudd. Varney is co-editor in chief of the Vanguard at UC Davis.

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7 thoughts on “Crime Update with Davis Police Department”

  1. Alan Miller

    I notice the author is a different person than the person who has a bio line, a problem the DV seems to have a lot.  Seems like such a simple think to have a bio for the actual author.  So we really don’t know a freakin’ thing about who the person is.

    1. David Greenwald

      Basically the way wordpress deals with author lines is it credits as the author the person who posts the article. We’ve actually spent a huge amount of time over the last six months to create author profile for most of the writers, but there are still only about four or five people who are posting all of the articles and then someone – either the person posting the articles or Highbeam or myself has to go back and switch the posted by to the person who wrote the article. If something gets posted “off-schedule” that’s probably not going to happen until the next morning. Hopefully when we get the new website that won’t be a problem anymore, but we’ll see.

  2. Keith Olson

    Why so much written in the article about what Pytel didn’t talk about?

    Since this isn’t labelled as an opinion piece shouldn’t this be an article about what Pytel did talk about?

     

     

    1. Bill Marshall

      Good questions…

      I worked with his Mom, was on a jury when he was an officer, testifying, worked with him when he and I both worked with the City, and we know his sister… I consider him ‘extended family’ (because of his Mom and sister… I doubt whether he would consider me the same… any can judge my ‘biases’…

      But KO raised reasonable questions… would look forward to answers.

      And, am not particularly fond of KO (or his posits), but even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

  3. Alan Miller

    Pytel claimed this idea of shoplifting has become more “popular” in Davis recently. 

    Claimed 😉

    Catalytic converter thefts have all been reported more frequently though Pytel did not indicate if the rate of thefts had gone up or if they were just being reported more. 

    People might have under-report catalytic converter thefts in the past because . . . of . . . um . . .

    According to him, individuals stand outside of businesses and disturb customers.

    “According to him” – yeah, no one else has ever claimed such a thing.  No shop owners, not customers.  No how never.  Just the police chief.

    He did not mention why he considered that a crime.

    You’ve never owned a business, have you, mysterious author?  Might not be a crime in-and-of-itself, but are you claiming “individuals stand[ing] outside of businesses and disturb[ing] customers” should be tolerated, just because we don’t want to ‘disturb’ the so-called homeless people?

    He went on to directly label homeless people in Davis as the problem.

    Some of them certainly are “a” problem, but not “the” problem.  I’ll grant you that.

    He said that the homeless community has been reported to conduct this type of behavior allegedly due to drug use.

    Certainly one reason.  Could also be mental illness.

    He stated, “The problem with methamphetamine, it wires people and keeps them up

    True dat

    and they are the ones doing the burglary and the thefts …

    Maybe not the only ones, but certainly ‘ones’.

    trying to get stuff to sell to get the drugs.”

    Pretty well established that’s a thing.

    Pytel did not cite any sources for this claim.

    I don’t believe he needs to.  Some things are so freaking obvious you don’t need to cite sources.  Hmmm . . . drugs cost money, addicts need money to buy drugs.  They get money by . . . . . selling cotton candy in front of CVS!

    He also did not talk about what the City is doing to address drug addiction in the unhoused folks in Davis

    It’s for the City to fix folks who are drug addicted?  OK, exactly how does it do that?  Oh, yeah, that ‘concept’ that I don’t believe in that others ’round these part believe in.  What is it called, “Unicorn Intervention” ?  No, that’s not it.

    beyond criminalizing them

    Some of them are criminals.  But I agree, don’t criminalize folks for using drugs or being addicts.  Only criminalize those that also commit crimes.  Such as “doing the burglary and the thefts … trying to get stuff to sell to get the drugs” which apparently as implied here is a falsehood.

    Pytel also talked about Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) which focuses on changing physical environments to try to reduce crime. Pytel did not cite statistics as to the effectiveness of a program like this.

    But the author did, and they are mixed, at best.  Apparently.  I looked at examples of this.  Some is obvious and common sense.  No statistics needed, like ‘duh’.  Other examples were stupid feel-good cråp.

    The City of Davis has also partnered with Bike Index, a bike registry, to reduce the rates of stolen bikes. To participate in the Bike Index, one has to provide serial numbers, proof of ownership and a description of their bike. The database releases a post with bike description and serial numbers when one is reported stolen or found. 

    No implicative sarcastic side comments.  I get Bike Index gets a pass.

    Chief Pytel strongly recommended not confronting the shoplifter because it can be dangerous.

    My brother worked the overnight shift at a 7-11 in Albuquerque decades ago.  Guy came in pulled a gun and said, “this is a stick up”.  According the newspaper he ‘sensed the gun wasn’t real’, pulled out a can of mace and said, “this is also a stick up” and the guy ran out the door.  I’m guessing my brother wouldn’t have taken Pytel’s advice.

    The next question was from a business owner who asked, “Is there any additional funding that the police department might get next year for additional officers or anything else related to police activity?” 

    Sounds like the business owner wasn’t a fan of ‘defunding’ the police.

    Pytel claimed the sworn positions were frozen even though City Council said the positions were not in the budget at all at a City Council budget meeting in June of this year.

    That should be easy to flesh out 😐

    He also did not clarify that the police department gets 30% of the city’s general fund.

    Did he need to clarify that, when we have Davis Vanguard reporters who will gladly do so?

    The long term budget from the City Council budget meeting in June also does not indicate a large budget cut for the police.

    Define “large”.

     

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