Chico police cut gang unit to bolster patrol

KATY SWEENY (Chico ER) | November 08, 2012

CHICO — Just a week after a gang member allegedly stabbed a 15-year-old rival at the Chico Mall, the Chico police chief announced today he will cut the department’s gang unit to ensure patrol has enough officers to respond to serious and violent incidents.The street crime and traffic units will also be eliminated as of Nov. 18, shifting six officers from the three special assignments to patrol, Chief Kirk Trostle said. In February, the four officers in the TARGET unit will instead respond to calls as well.

“As much of a benefit these units are to the community, when somebody calls and says they need help, patrol needs to be there,” he said.

The patrol section requires 56 officers to adequately respond to incidents such as homicides, sexual assaults and suicide interventions, Trostle said. However, the department is only allowed 49 officers, five of whom are unable to work because of medical reasons.

Two officers also plan to retire at the end of the year and more are expected to leave next year.

Trostle said he wrestled with the decision and said he doesn’t like it.

“Of course we need more staffing,” he said. “If we had more staffing, we wouldn’t be in this particular situation.”

The chief thinks the cut will have an enormous effect on the community, he said.

“Those who would do crime to our community members know they are not being watched and may feel like they have more freedom to conduct criminal activity,” he said. “That’s of great concern.”

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