Crime and law enforcement will be the main topic of conversation during the Danville Town Council's special meeting on Tuesday, when Danville Police Chief Allan Shields will be on hand to review his department's activities from the past year.
An annual update given by Shields to the council, this year's report found that while significant challenges to police arose due to the pandemic and widespread civil unrest, Danville saw a noticeable decrease in both traffic collisions and Part 1 crimes -- cases involving murder, manslaughter, sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft and arson -- in 2020.
"The police department faced new challenges in the first half of 2020. The staff adapted quickly to the changing environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic and protests following bouts of civil unrest across the nation," Shields said in his report.
"As the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest hit the nation and greater Bay Area, the police department quickly adapted their service delivery model in order to keep and maintain a healthy workforce while ensuring they continue to safeguard the lives, rights and property for all those we serve. The police department used personal protective equipment, social distancing and access control into facilities to ensure the health and safety of staff and visitors," Shields added.
According to the report, Part 1 crimes Danville police reported were eight stolen vehicles, 85 occurrences of theft, 26 burglaries, five assaults, four robberies and four rapes. There were no homicides in the first half of 2020.
"Much of the decrease in crime can be attributed to the reduction in opportunities for theft (most prevalent crime in Town) by empty parking lots and occupied homes," Shields said. "Part 1 crime dropped from 150 reported cases in the first half of 2019 to 132 reported cases in the first half of 2020."
Danville also saw a decrease in the number of reported traffic collisions in the first half of the year, with traffic collisions dropping from 154 in the first half of 2019 to 111 in the first half of 2020. This decrease is attributed to the dramatic decrease in traffic flow, according to Shields' report, which estimates a 60% reduction in traffic flow through town during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Responding to several protests that took place throughout Danville as a part of a national movement against racism and police brutality, Shields said his officers strove to find the balance between supporting residents' right to protest, while still preventing the looting and violence that occured in other Bay Area communities.
"When there were signs of protest or civil unrest, the police department ensured the rights of people to peacefully assemble were not infringed and maintained an appropriate law enforcement presence that ensured the lives and property of the residents and business owners were secure," Shields said. "Sworn staff from the police department deployed to several mutual aid requests across the Bay Area as part of regional teams to provide riot control assistance to communities in need."
Shields added that on one occasion in June, the town received "credible intelligence" about a threat of looting; however, that threat was never actualized and local protests were ultimately peaceful.
During Tuesday's meeting the town will also consider repealing a town ordinance which suspended automatic "deemed complete" and "deemed approved" deadlines for all land use, subdivision and zoning applications.
Originally approved because of town officials' concerns that they would not be able to approve applications due to staffing constraints leveled by the coronavirus pandemic, town staff say they should now be able to continue operations.
Residents can have public comments read into the record by contacting the city clerk at 314-3307 or [email protected] prior to 4 p.m. on Tuesday.