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By Mike Hazlip–
The Citrus Height City Council last month approved an agreement between the police department and the largest business district in the city to provide a full-time police officer dedicated to problem solving and crime prevention in the commercial district.
The Sunrise MarketPlace business improvement district (SMP), which is made up of 400-plus businesses in the Greenback-Sunrise commercial corridor, has agreed to pay the officer’s full salary and benefits in exchange for the dedicated patrol services. The annual cost to be paid is approximately $177,000.
Officer Jeff Schouten was selected to fill the role and took the position on May 12. Schouten has been with the Citrus Heights Police Department since its formation in 2006 and is a familiar face to businesses in the area, as he previously served as a dedicated officer assigned to Sunrise Mall.
A key role forSchouten is that of a Problem Oriented Policing or“POP” officer. The Citrus Heights POP unit includes code enforcement officers and functions more proactively to reduce crime and other nuisance issues.
“Problem Oriented Policing officers work with the community, work with businesses, to tackle more longer term issues and concerns,” POP Sergeant James Evans told The Sentinel in an interview on Thursday. “A POP officer has time because he’s not responding to emergency calls 24/7.”
Evans said having a sworn officer dedicated to the marketplace brings additional resources to investigate crimes in the area. He said officers will normally spend most of their time responding to 911 calls, but an officer dedicated to the marketplace has more time to follow up on crimes, identify trends and be more proactive.
Schouten, the newpatrol officer for SMP, emphasized the importance of networking with private security and business owners to identify suspects, highlighting his role in making a recent.
“The business was able to call me right away on my personal phone,” Schouten said. “I was there within minutes and I was able to catch the suspect.”
Schouten identified theft rings as an ongoing problem in the greater Sacramento area, saying such crime crimes take “millions and millions of dollars away from businesses around the country.”
News reports show a group of thieves stolemore than $6,000 worth of merchandise from Victoria Secret in Sunrise Mall lastOctober. Several other Victoria Secret stores in the area were also hit according to reports.
Sgt. Evans said the new position will enhance the private security many businesses in the marketplace already employ. He said having a sworn officer working with private security is a greater deterrent against theft.
“They’re not going to have the same powers that we have,”Evans said of private security.“We definitely have a lot more resources.”
An important aspect of the new officer’s relationship with the MarketPlace is the Merchant Detention Program. The program enables Schouten to train business owners to more effectively write reports that can later be used to prosecute suspects, and is also available to business owners throughout Citrus Heights.
“They will go through a training process an we will certify them on parameters,” Schouten said. “It gives [the] loss prevention officer and police adeepworking relationship.”
Sunrise MarketPlace Executive Director Kathilynn Carpenter said the new dedicated patrol officer for her business district has already been producing some positive results.
“He’s been out there very visible, meeting with businesses, finding out what their needs are — really being proactive if he sees graffiti or (abandoned) furniture,” said Carpenter. “It’s working out great, I’ve been thrilled.”
Noting last week’s arrest in the MarketPlace, Carpenter said criminals will likely soon learn about the new police presence in her business district: “I think word will probably get around pretty quick that there’s a specific patrol here.”
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