Post-casino crime report released
CHP reports boost in DUIs; violent crimes in Rohnert Park hold steady
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By Mira Brody  February 7, 2014 12:00 am

Since the opening of the Graton Casino nearly three months ago, much of the concern has been focused around tainting Rohnert Park with the types of crimes that seem to flock to gambling facilities. Whether patrons of casinos become more reckless or that it attracts out-of-towners who may cause trouble, many citizens have expressed unease about the level of safety they feel in Rohnert Park, and how having a casino less than a mile from local schools increases the likelihood of there being irreversible damage.

Aside from a parking lot mugging, which left a 67-year old man in the hospital, the casino has attracted little more than a rise in DUIs, mostly documented along the Cotati Grade. According to a press release from the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety, crime involving prostitution, vandalism and narcotics has not increased at all.

“We’re definitely getting more activity in the general area,” comments John Sloat, who has been with the California Highway Patrol for 12 years and its public information officer for five. “We have taken a lot of DUIs that claim they are coming from the casino. But then again when we ask where they are coming from, people don’t give us a truthful answer, so it’s hard to get the full picture.”

CHP does not target the grounds themselves, but rather have worked to increase the number of patrols on the stretch of freeway between Petaluma and Santa Rosa. Those seen in the parking lot grounds are both privately contracted security guards and a few Sonoma County Sheriff vehicles.

One problem in the parking lot is cars are both being stolen and broken into; nearly nine were stolen from the casino area in the month of December alone. Sloat offers some sound advice for both visiting the casino and anytime you are leaving your car behind for an extended period of time.

“Don’t leave valuables visible in your vehicle,” he says simply. “If you don’t want to take it with you into the casino, leave it in the trunk. A majority of thefts are simply crimes of opportunity.”

Although not enough data has been collected to determine the long-term effects of the Graton Casino in the community, the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety has made plans to keep a close eye on activity around it and work quickly to, “adjust our personnel and resources accordingly.”

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