I recently celebrated my 30-year anniversary in law enforcement and I continue to feel blessed to be of service to the residents of Rohnert Park. I take pride in knowing that we have one of the safest communities in Sonoma County. The department and our many community partnerships are devoted to solving problems, providing resources and lending a (socially distanced) ear to the folks in our city.
One of the partnerships I would like to highlight is my partnership with you. I understand that we share in the safeguarding accomplishments of our community. Your calls, questions, concerns and commitment to our neighborhoods provide a driving force and an opportunity to serve.
I’m excited to expand on our relationship by offering a new series of online question-and-answer forums called ‘Chat with the Chief.’ The Zoom sessions are an opportunity to get to know my department and receive answers to your questions. ‘Chat with the Chief’ on Zoom is scheduled for the first and third Tuesdays of each month from 6-7p.m. Our previous session on January 5 included a lively conversation about speed demonstrations, theft, Covid-19, and notable 2021 traffic legislation. The entire video can be viewed by visiting http://bit.ly/RP_CWTC
In a year when many vehicles are spending their time parked, catalytic converter thefts are on the rise statewide. Our city, too, has seen its fair share of these nuisance thefts. The crime is committed in a short period of time making it more difficult for police to catch thieves in the act. We are taking action by studying the crimes, increasing our patrols and enlisting the undercover Community Oriented Policing team COPS.
As a result, we have and continue to make arrests, but I need your continued support. Let’s create less opportunity by storing your vehicle in your garage (if you have one), removing items from plain view and installing outdoor lighting. Lighting and security cameras are an effective tool in deterring crime. Finally, connect with your neighbors --it might be hard right now, but utilize apps like Nextdoor or Facebook.
As we rang in the new year, we also rang in new regulations. I’d like to remind you of a couple traffic safety updates that will likely impact you.
1. New potential fines for motorists who do not slow down and, whenever possible, change lanes when encountering a Caltrans vehicle, tow truck, or any emergency vehicle with lights flashing on a highway.
2. Exemptions for Good Samaritans who rescue an endangered child from a locked vehicle from civil and criminal liability. This amends existing law concerning leaving children under the age of six unattended in vehicles.
3. Points being added to a driver’s record for a second violation of the hands-free law within 36 months of a prior conviction - beginning July 1, 2021. This applies to the violations of talking or texting while driving (except for hands-free use).
I encourage you to continue to work in partnership with the Department of Public Safety. If you are witnessing vehicles traveling at high speeds in your neighborhood, let us know. You are welcome to report it on our non-emergency line at 584-2600. The information you supply enables our traffic officers to implement targeted enforcement strategies to address high-speed problem areas.
On a final note, it is my honor to serve our community. I thank you for your trust and partnership. I look forward to you joining me for the next ‘Chat with the Chief’ scheduled for January 19 from 6 -7 p.m. The chat includes “in-time” Spanish translation and closed captioning. Keep an eye out on our social media, Nextdoor and Nixle for the Zoom meeting ID. If you would like to send your questions in advance, please send them to MWerle@rpcity.org.