I had the opportunity earlier today to sit down with Elk Grove’s new police chief, Bryan Noblett and police department spokesman Officer Chris Trim. Noblett was announced as the police chief on September 14 by City Manager Laura Gill. He was sworn in on October 27, replacing retiring chief Robert Lehner.
Noblett is the third police chief in the Elk Grove Police Department’s 10 year history. He is a 30 year veteran of law enforcement and 26 year resident of Elk Grove. He joined the Elk Grove Police Department in 2009.
During our meeting we discussed a variety of issues facing the city and the future of the department.
Biggest issues facing Elk Grove
Domestic violence. Noblett said that while overall crime is down, including property crimes and aggravated assaults, domestic violence continues to be a major issue. He also said that it’s not a crime that can be stopped by officers on the streets. It’s a crime that usually happens within the confines of a home. Some of the issues that lead to domestic violence are finances, drugs, and culture, all of which make it very challenging. He said the department works closely with WEAVE and has a domestic violence advocate working with the department specifically for these cases.
Mental health issues and those in crisis. Noblett said the issue of mental illness is one that is not going to go away and the services available to those in need continues to dwindle. He said that officers are trained to deal with those suffering from mental health issues.
Early release of criminals. Noblett said that the early release of criminals who should be in jail or prison will continue to be a problem that all cities will have to deal with. Former Chief Lehner was very vocal in his opposition to Prop 47 and the resulting effects of it. Noblett said it is something the EGPD will have to continue to work on and using things like checking with probation officers and being more proactive are ways to deal with the issue
We also discussed changes that he was planning on implementing as the new chief.
Increase involvement with community. Continue to be more active in the community. Noblett said he plans to attend more community meetings and be the face of the department. He also wants the department to be more a part of the community.
Coffee with cop and other engagements. Noblett said he wants the community to be able to deal more with officers on a local level and wants the officers more involved with the areas that they patrol by getting to know the residents and business owners.
Celebrity Crossing guards. Continue having officers serve as crossing guards at schools to increase awareness of safe driving around schools
School resource officers. Noblett was very happy to announce that for the first time the EGPD will have a school resource officer in an Elk Grove school. Currently the school officers are contracted from the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department. Noblett feels that having an Elk Grove police officer in the schools will be a big help and another means of connecting with students and the community. The officer will initially be stationed at Cosumnes Oaks High School at first, possibly going to other schools and expanding if program is successful.
Make better use of data. Try to anticipate where crime may occur and use that to be more proactive.
Increase staffing. Noblett said the City manager and city council are committed to increasing the number of officers
Cameras The department is still testing body cameras. All the cars have cameras. Also increase video cameras in the city. Some parks currently have cameras and there are cameras in other areas. They would like to use the cameras more to deal with real time occurrences and get the information to officers quicker. Noblett said that with more cameras comes the need to balance security with the rights of privacy for the citizens.
Another area we discussed was the traffic and safety issues around schools. Noblett said that being a long time resident here, having had his kids go through the schools here, and living near a school, that he is very aware of the issues that parents face. He said the issue is a complex one with overcrowded schools and lack of bussing. The school district and department continues to encourage parents and residents to be more careful and the department will try and increase patrols around the schools as well.
I asked Officer Trim about the recent accident earlier this week on Elk Grove Blvd and if the department is aware of teens in racing clubs. He said the department is aware of the issue and officers that work at night try and patrol the areas and streets where the racing sometimes occurs. Noblett said part of the school resource officer’s duties may include talking with kids about the dangers of racing. The department also has programs such as Before the Impact that show teens the impact of distracted and unsafe driving.
I left the meeting very impressed with Chief Noblett. He is very easygoing and approachable. The City of Elk Grove is in very good hands.