Group tries to bring police, residents closer

Community leaders in Daly City’s Bayshore are working to increase the contact between police and residents in their neighborhood in an effort to combat feelings of isolation and concerns about crime.

While many residents would like to see more officers in their neighborhood, city budget constraints have kept staffing levels low in recent years. Instead, the department is working with a coalition of community groups to hold a series of meetings on current crime issues in all the city’s neighborhoods.

While the city had a lauded four-officer Community Oriented Police Enforcement unit in the 1990s that dealt with neighborhood issues, the officers in that program were redeployed several years ago, after training the rest of the force in their techniques, Capt. John Warren said.

Two officers now are assigned to the Bayshore at all times, he said, out of nine to 16 officers on duty at any given time. The department has around six unfilled officer positions, not counting command staff, and nine on leave.

It is not clear that the change has led to an actual increase in crime, but concerns remain among residents.

“For many years, Midway and Bayshore were a little bit quiet,” said Estella Cirilo, president of the Midway Village Neighborhood Association in the Bayshore. “Now, gang members are trying to attack our kids.”

Cirilo also said her car was vandalized last week, and that a child was recently shot with a BB gun.

Leah Berlanga, Crocker Neighborhood Association president, said the police are doing an excellent job, especially considering that Daly City must deal with criminals crossing the border from San Francisco. The entire county is facing gang issues and has organized a countywide task force to deal with them, Warren said.

Bayshore Youth Organization spokesman Joseph Keh said he would like to see a return of the COPE program or a new police substation in the Bayshore. Communication is an issue for many of Bayshore’s new residents, some of whom are from other countries and don’t report crimes.

“We’d like to see them … have a rapport with police,” he said.

In response to those concerns, Berlanga and several community groups have been working with police to create a series of workshops on modern crime issues, including gangs, schemes that target seniors, pedestrian safety and Internet awareness. The first one will be held at Westmoor High School on a date to be announced in May.

“What we’re trying to do is start forums out there to educate people. We don’t want people to be afraid to talk to police and community leaders,” Berlanga said. “We’re … looking for people who are not used to opening up about crime.”

An early forum will be held in the Bayshore.

kwilliamson@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocal

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