Discovery Bay is being treated to a Crime Prevention Meeting next week, however, emails between Supervisor Mary Piepho and Amanda Dove of the Delta Sun Times highlight that the Supervisor was not pleased over a last minute invitation and the overall planning of the April 24 event.
Supervisor Piepho apparently did not appreciate a last minute invite to a meeting in her own town which did not allow her enough time to adjust her schedule. Simultaneously, she didn’t appreciate the accusations at increased crime when it has actually been reduced according to sheriffs statistics.
Lea Castleberry of Supervisor Piephos office informed me that their office was not included in any of the planning and was out of the loop.
The event was announced via the Delta Sun Times website dating back on March 11, however, the Supervisor just received her invitation on April 15 via an email—just one week prior to the event.
Editorial Comment here: A word to the wise, you should always give public officials as much notice as possible considering in the Supervisors position, she is traveling back and forth between San Francisco and Sacramento (and everywhere in-between) a majority of the time.
Supervisor Piepho also backed the Sheriff’s Office regarding the misleading media reports in local newspapers about crime on the rise in Discovery Bay and the purpose for the proposed community event.
It was also stated that sheriffs office had to ask more than once to have their name removed from a flyer which labeled them as a co-sponsor.
According to Lt. Alan Johnson, they had requested the flyer be changed to remove the “co-sponsor” title because they are not allowed to co-sponsor these types of events without a proper protocol followed. He stated this event was set up and sponsored by the Delta Sun Times.
“We are going to the crime prevention meeting as guest speakers to talk about everything form doors and locks to how to make cars safer to personal safety,” said Lt. Johnson.
While the Community Crime Meeting is a great idea, given the emails and newspaper articles flying around I wanted to ask Amanda Dove and Jim Mattison some questions on the meeting and their claims about crime.
Jim Mattison wrote an editorial about an increase in crime and provided comments to the Contra Costa Times in an article about the community meeting stating that:
“(Thefts are) a lot more prevalent lately,” resident Jim Mattison said. “It seems like everyone I know, or friends of people I know, have told me they’ve been burglarized.”
Well, it may seem that way, but that is not true and in the process he has made an issue out of a non-issue. Yes, he is entitled to his opinion, but he is not entitled to his own facts which show crime has had a slight decrease in incidents which is more than you can say about the City of Brentwood who reported last week their crime has increased by 18%.
According to the Discovery Bay Sheriffs stats, here are the reported burglaries in Discovery Bay over the past four months:
- 9 reported burglaries in March
- 9 reported burglaries in February
- 10 reported burglaries in January
- 12 reported burglaries in December
If crime is increasing and the sheriff’s office doesn’t know about it, it’s because people are not picking up the phone and calling for “help”.
Ms. Dove disagrees.
“There’s so much more to why the reporting is happening the way it was. In short, these are busy people that were having things go missing but didn’t have hours to wait for the sheriff to come and take a report. Now we know, there is an online reporting system for non-violent Crimes like that. Something I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t been organizing this meeting,” said Dove in a Facebook Post on my wall.
When I challenged Mr. Mattison on the sheriff’s figures, he didn’t really have a response.
“The stats will show that January was about double and robberies such as bikes, open car doors and crimes of opportunity generally go unreported. Funny thing is I was just having dinner with some friends tonight who’s neighbors just got robbed a month ago and she has a home based business and watches people in her neighborhood casing houses during the day. Crime is everywhere, my point is to lock up all your valuables and confront crime whenever you can,” said Mattison.
I read him the figures from the Sheriff’s office to correct his statement. His reply was that he had seen the numbers.
“Oh I have seen the reports Mike,” said Mattison.
I asked him that I was trying to figure out how crime was going up if the numbers say otherwise. He ignored the question and the conversation ended after he gave another two examples of a friends boat being ripped off and another friend had $45k worth of jewelry and guns stolen.
According to sheriff’s Lt. Alan Johnson, he states that a worst case scenario shows that crime has remained the same and in a best case scenario, crime has gone down depending on the numbers being looked at.
“When I read the numbers, calls for service for suspicious behavior showed a slight spike in January,” explained Johnson.
But one has to remember, calls for suspicious behavior does not mean a crime has occurred. It appears that calls for service have translated into a rumor mill that crime has also increased—that is false.
Over a period of 5-years, property crimes are down
- 2008 – 119
- 2009 – 97
- 2010 – 84
- 2011 – 92
- 2012 – 84
Lt. Johnson also explained the breakdown of how Discovery Bay is protected
- Resident Deputy (2) – cover Discovery Bay and rarely leave. He explained its very rare as the only time they leave Discovery Bay is if officer needs assistance or life threatening emergency.
· Beat Deputy (2): Covers unincorporated areas from Antioch to San Joaquin County border
- School Resources Officer – stays at school
Here is the emails back and forth between Piepho and Dove.
Date: April 15, 2013, 5:16:08 PM PDT
Subject: Invitation for Mary
Invitation for Supervisor Piepho…
I spoke with Lea Castleberry about this a couple of weeks ago, but I would like to formally extend an invitation to Supervisor Piepho – to speak at the April 24, Discovery Bay Crime Watch and Public Safety Meeting. This meeting is intended to be a proactive approach to crime in Discovery Bay. It is sponsored by the Discovery Bay Chamber of Commerce and Delta Sun Times, with the assistance of the Byron-Delta Lions Club.
While our community can boast one of the lowest crime rates in Contra Costa County, it is never a bad idea to take a proactive approach to crime prevention. It has been five years since our last community crime meeting, and our population has overturned quite a bit since then and our crime statistics have improved! Our hope is to keep it that way. Sheriff Crime Prevention Specialist, Anthony Fontenot explained that is precisely why he was station at the Discovery Bay Sheriffs Annex, to host meetings such as this one.
We have asked our speakers to share information and suggestions that encourage our residents to be vigilant in their approach to crime…. report all suspicious activity, start a neighborhood watch program, use common sense, etc.
It’s true that in small towns, word spreads quickly and so do rumors. The objective here is to dispel rumors, inform, and correct. We have encouraged the Sheriff’s Department to share success stories – moments of success in picking up suspects and what those suspects said was their reason for targeting Discovery Bay. It’s interesting stuff!
Ultimately, this is NOT an attack the Sheriff meeting, and we will make certain this is so. This is an opportunity to inform the community about how the Sheriff works. How to report a crime (online is an option in non-violent, non-urgent situatons). How we can help ourselves and each other from becoming a community with crime problems, like those to the East and to the West.
We are excited about this opportunity for our community to stand together, and hope Supervisor Piepho will join us, as our greatest local advocate!
Interesting that the meeting was announced March 11 and Supervisor Piepho is just now receiving an invite. More importantly, the fact that she states the objective here is to dispel rumors, inform, and correct–while that is a good goal, that was not the original intent of the meeting which was created on the premise that crime was increasing. It was only after the crime stats were pointed out did the meeting become “educational”.
Supervisor Piepho issued the following response to what she deemed as a last minute invite.
In a message dated 4/16/2013 1:16:21 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
A few things. First, I greatly appreciate your ongoing commitment to Discovery Bay. As you know, I have worked very hard to successfully represent and protect our community for over 8 years now on the Board of Supervisors. During that time, we have asked you repeatedly to work with our office as you schedule community events and outreach, yet we consistently are invited in at the last minute. Often times my office needs to assist with education, health department or other county permit issues in order for an event to occur.
As you know, David and I took the heat for many years for the “Zip Code” celebration that was originally planned by my office and the CSD to be a small intimate gathering but was “redesigned” into a Zip Code and Paddle Wheel Guinness Book of World Record event by you on behalf of the Discovery Bay Chamber. Great for the community, but significantly and politically painful for both David and I. You had a significant role in that event and its outcome and never once stood up to take credit or responsibility. Even when directly asked to.
And, when the Zip Code events initial funding and support fell through, you looked to the CSD and the County to pay the bills. Again, we absorbed that expense, both politically and practically.
The recent headlines about crime increasing in Discovery Bay belies the truth and accuracy in the Sheriff’s office reports. This misinforms the community and does a great disservice to our residents.
Planning a community event centered around crime without the Discovery Bay CSD, the P-6 Committee, the Sheriff’s Department and my office, who are all directly responsible and accountable to Discovery Bay, is irresponsible.
I am happy to represent the County Board of Supervisors and my office at appropriate venues, with appropriate planning and accurate information being shared with the public. I only ask to be included early on so that we have ample opportunity to make sure all appropriate individuals, departments and stakeholders are able to attend and program content can be thoroughly prepared and successfully delivered.
Again, I am more than happy to work with you on behalf of our mutual community interests, I only ask that we be brought in early so that appropriate planning and preparation can be achieved. Since my schedule is extremely busy, running from San Francisco to Sacramento on county and Delta issues on a regular basis, fitting something in at the last minute is not always successful.
You are welcome to call me to discuss this or any other matter of importance to you. My office number is 925-252-4500.
I am not sure why the zip code incident was included, but apparently there is a history. In reply, Ms. Dove admits she dropped the idea sometime between January and March before setting the schedule for the April meeting.
Date: April 16, 2013, 2:33:41 PM PDT
Thank you, Mary. I very much appreciate all that you do for Discovery Bay and the Delta.
As a little background, I did start reaching out to Bob Mankin in January about the idea of hosting a meeting, because of his involvement with the P-6 committee. At that time I had expressed to him my concern that public perception was declining and that a meeting involving the Sheriff might improve that. Due to both of our busy schedules, and multiple attempts to get together, I let the idea drop.
I first approached Anthony Fontenot, DB Crime Prevention Specialist, in mid-March about hosting a crime prevention meeting after I had a stranger at my home. After sharing my experience with others, it again seemed to me that the public perception was that crime was on the rise. Tony explained that was precisely why he is here in Discovery Bay, but that the Sheriff’s Department could not host the event. However, if I was able to set it up and spread the word, he would create a presentation and invite others from the department to speak also. I wouldn’t have created a meeting without the Sheriff, that would be ridiculous.
It is a meeting that was put together quickly, and I apologize that it didn’t occur to me to ask for your blessing and participation until I spoke with Lea a couple of weeks ago when she called with questions. I figured this to be something we simply needed the Sheriff to speak at. It is very nice when we have our elected officials present to show support for community concerns, but the crime prevention meeting is about neighborhood watch, being vigilant in reporting suspicious activity, and creating a better understanding of how the sheriff works.
I’m not sure where the idea came from that I’m inflating crime statistics. I’ve never said that crime is up in Discovery Bay. I’ve said the perception is there and that there is a need to communicate better, which is why I reached out to Tony. There is confusion at the yacht harbor about how to report property theft – as tenants there have been reporting to the harbormaster rather than the Sheriff’s Department.
I’m sorry the zip code celebration is still an issue. More than once I have publicly accepted my share of the responsibility for that event – in my own newspaper. The last time we met on this topic, at the Town offices, it was my belief we all agreed that there was an unfortunate misunderstanding in the planning meetings that preceded the event. I followed that meeting with a statement in my newspaper.
I am truly grateful for all that you do for our community, and if you would like to speak at the crime prevention meeting, I am happy to add you to the agenda. If you are unable to attend, then again I apologize for the short notice and promise to reach out in a more timely manner in the future.
Amanda Dove, publisher
Delta Sun Times
Supervisor Piepho then replies:
Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 1:16 PM
My staff contacted you on April 4th after reading the misleading media reports in local newspapers about crime on the rise in Discovery Bay and your proposed community event. Prior to that, you had no contact with our office on this matter until we received the email below of Tuesday, April 16.
Date: April 17, 2013, 1:59:38 PM PDT
Thank you, Mary.
That’s correct, as I stated in the 3rd paragraph of my previous email below.
I believe we are on the same team here, Mary. I’m not sure why it feels as though we are arguing about a crime prevention meeting that will stop rumors of a crime-rise, and better inform our residents as to how to protect themselves. Certainly it’s better to be proactive than reactive, and I am not responsible for any of the recent editorials that inflame the perception local crime statistics.
I own a community newspaper and it is certainly appropriate for a newspaper to sponsor and host community events that are of interest to it’s readers. Anthony Fontenot is Discovery Bay’s Crime Prevention Specialist, and presentations like this one are the reason he is here.
7 years ago we had a bump in the relationship but I like to think we’ve moved past that. Since that time, I have tried to be very supportive of your efforts and the work you are doing. I like to think I’m on the right track as well.
All my best,
In this final email, Ms. Dove highlights a need to better communicate. Couldn’t she use her own community paper to educate the public on crime prevention techniques while explaining the crime stats? Why not interview Mr. Fontenot? That is no knock on her, but something to think about going forward.
Ultimately, the emails highlight how better communication with public officials and stakeholders is better for the overall community. Informing them where you are in the process will save headaches later as shown above. Most importantly, it reduces confusion and correct information is provided to the public the first time instead of rumors.
While I fully support the idea of a community event to better prevent crime, the rhetoric got out of hand pretty quickly with mass confusion over crime increasing when that was simply not true per the Lt. Johnson.
In this case, the rumors got ahead of facts and Discovery Bay needs to remember to work with real statistics instead of mystery crimes. It’s easy to knock what “should have” or “could have” been done, lets focus going forward on the reality which is working on better preventing all crime.
“I’ve been considering this for a long time. It’s been a few years since our last community crime meeting and much of our population has turned over since then. Discovery Bay works in a unique way, being served by the county sheriff, as opposed to a city police department. It’s helpful that residents understand how our resident deputies work… how they are funded, how they respond to crime reports of different kinds, and also hear about success stories when the sheriff’s do pick up suspects,” explained Amanda Dove.
There is a list of programs available that residents may be able to take advantage of if they are better made aware of them such as Neighborhood Watch, vigilance in reporting, common sense in our daily lives.
“I hope the community will leave the meeting with a better understanding of what the real issues are, and aren’t, in Discovery Bay and feel they are better equipped to keep Discovery Bay the safe place to raise a family it is today,” explained Dove.
Ultimately, Amanda Dove is correct that by attending this meeting, you become better educated on Discovery Bay crime and the new reality facing the town of Discovery Bay.
Wednesday, April 24 at 7:00 pm
Discovery Bay School Gymnasium