REDDING, Calif. - It was a chance for open discussion in Redding, and the topic quickly shifted to Redding's rising crime. A town hall meeting Wednesday with the city's police department allowed residents to learn more about public safety.
It started with a presentation focused on preventative measures.
"Crime prevention through environmental design. It's a series of tools we can use to make our homes and even businesses less likely to be burglarized or have other criminal activity," said community service officer Mike Leonard.
About 50 people showed up at the city council chambers. They learned about ways to outfit their homes to detract burglars, including lighting, fencing, and use of security systems. There were also tips for people who want to take an active approach with programs like neighborhood watch.
But the focus quickly shifted once public comment opened up. The citizens wanted to get the facts behind the crime.
"I was more concerned about the growing crime rates and the lack of changes," said 17-year Redding resident Cody Thomas.
Thomas was one of the first to speak out, sharing his biggest worries with Redding Police Chief Robert Paoletti. He took advantage of the available forum.
"Criminals can get arrested and they get out 3-4 hours later they commit the same crime be arrested and because they're never going to go to prison unless they commit a violent crime. They have no fear [of prison]," Thomas said.
While Thomas feels the incarceration procedure is a revolving door in California he realized the difficulty of fighting the problem.
"I respect the police chief trying to do what he can and keep people calm and make an attempt to fix things but it's over his head also. He seems frustrated about it also," he said.
Paoletti said the prison realignment mandate, or AB 109, is something the state does not even have control over, with the decision coming from a three judge panel.
"There's some things that we have control of in the Redding Police Department with respect to crime in the community. There's certain things that we don't," he said. "The transition from state control to local control happened so quickly that counties are still reeling to try to catch up with those effects."
Regardless of the topic, the one-on-one discussion with the chief for all to hear meant an explanation of these issues. It is something everyone sees as beneficial.
"Anytime we can bring people together that want to make a positive impact instead of a negative impact is a good thing," Thomas said.
"This is an opportunity to not have to make an appointment or try to fit into the schedule or catch me somewhere. I'm here!" Paoletti said.
The topics of these meetings differ. Chief Paoletti said much of it is brought on by what the people want. Self-protection against criminals was discussed this evening as a potential topic. Paoletti said to expect that to be a focus of a future quarterly town-hall meeting.