BARSTOW – Barstow Police Chief Andy Espinoza announced, Tuesday, various programs and tactics to address crime. These measures are in preparation for an economic development surge from BNSF Railway’s $1.5 billion plans.
“We have made great strides in addressing criminal activity in our city, and the results are already showing with property crimes trending much lower,” said Espinoza. “As our city will go through a major change with the BNSF project and enormous population growth, we will be steadfast in ensuring the safety of our residents.”
BNSF Railway plans to invest more than $1.5 billion to construct a master-planned rail facility in Barstow. When completed, the city expects it will double in size from 25,000 residents to 50,000.
The key change to Barstow policing is going towards “more of a strategic-focused, data-driven, evidence-based policing,” said Espinoza.
More police officers are now assigned to specific beats and different areas of the city.
This helps the officers develop stronger relationships and community ties, rather than being sent to calls throughout the entire city.
“We started being more proactive and addressing hot spots and locations where crime was happening, and the same officers are addressing them and conducting the follow up,” said Espinoza. “We made it a priority to staff a specialized Crime Impact Team, putting cops in the right areas to help prevent crime.”
In addition to the Crime Impact Team, other measures include:
- Automated license plate readers on busy streets to help find suspects and solve crimes.
- A part-time Homeless Outreach Proactive Enforcement (HOPE) team that allows officers to be proactive with the homeless.
- A Chief Advisory Board that allows input from community members, including educators, social workers, business owners and former police officers to be provided to the chief.
- “Coffee with a Cop” is held every quarter, and “Tacos with a Cop” takes place at different times throughout the year which strengthens relationships with residents.
- Officers working with Barstow youth by taking part in industry youth coaching at the high school.
- The Police Activity League (PAL) raises funds for toys to deliver to children on Christmas Eve each year.
Espinoza said other programs are in the works, including the development of a Community Action Team to work in community relations and target different apartment complexes in the city. The goal would be to generate a crime-free multi-housing division and certify the units.