Home Letter To The Editor Letters: Walnut Creek Is Not Sodom And Gomorrah

Letters: Walnut Creek Is Not Sodom And Gomorrah

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Editor:

Like most everyone in the city I was stunned by the news of our most recent murder and like most everyone else in the city I wondered if this was a sign that a sinister new time had dawned in Walnut Creek.

As shocking as the incident is and as troubling as our other problems (shoplifting, traffic, housing availability etc.) may be I read the often frantic commentary following the shooting and arrived at the conclusion that as bad as things may seem we should not be condemned by yet another isolated, violent incident.

It is clear that like most cities our city is facing a new age marked by violence committed by young people with few barriers and access to guns. Unlike most towns we are lucky to have venues attractive to people from outside the area who come here in search of a night out. Add alcohol or drugs, high spirits and access to those weapons I mentioned and we should not be surprised to see tragedies such as the one that unfolded Sunday – or nights before.

As the area comes out of lockdown and people flock to the “vibrant” downtown many leaders and others in the community have said they want, it is reasonable to assume we may see more of the murderous outbursts we saw over the weekend as humans interact and alcohol and testosterone come into play. This situation is unlikely to change as long as the city works to bring business to the downtown. Despite the murder other residents went to church that day, lunched with neighbors and were able to enjoy our great weather in peace and without incident.

While at least two families will have their lives changed forever by the Spoontonic shooting the rest of us must try to put that crime in its place and move forward with our lives as best as we are able. It’s all that we are able to do in the face of a mindless tragedy. Walnut Creek is a good place to live.

Eva Hagemann/ Walnut Creek

16 COMMENTS

  1. Eva,

    If we had a City Council, DA and police chief who actually believed in pro-active policing, these incidents would be reduced, but never eliminated. Instead, we have elected leaders who strive to find excuses for crime, restrict field officers from using instinct and training and place all citizens at risk. Walnut Creek is also blessed to have thirty reserve officers, were they to be deployed on weekend evenings arrests for drugs and dui’s would go up substantially, but that is not what our city leaders want.

    108RS

      • Dan,

        No. I turned down WC back in 1988. I was a reserve for L.A. County for ten years and CoCo for five years. And, I was a designated Level I with full time status, WC didn’t have the courage to offer that level even back in 1988, they still don’t.

    • Jeff, are these volunteer or paid staffing? And are they fully equipped, armed, etc.?

      Probably unlikely they can come up with 15-20 additional vehicles, but they could add foot patrols downtown on weekend nights, have 2 officers per car, have ocassional DUI checkpoints, and clamp down on problematic nightclubs.

      The word gets out.

      • Mark,

        Sorry about the delay in getting back to you. In California, there are four levels of reserve officer, the lowest, level three may be armed but can only do duties which will not involve arrests. The other levels have additional training up to having the same full time statues as a paid peace officer. Almost all hours are volunteer, occasionally there is a paid assignment.

        Yes, all levels except for level three could ride second man in a car at the very least.

        Jeff

  2. Thank you for your heartfelt thoughts, Eva, but my take is a little different.

    Violence and weapons were rarely noted in the 80s or 90s. We had nightclubs then – Crogans, Abernathy, Mr. Lucky’s, Dan’s, WPLJs, Johnny Loves, as well as restaurant bars.

    The first noteworthy, different crime I recall, was a knife fight between 4 men in the middle of the day, possibly outside a car wash, on a main thoroughfare. Highly unusual. I used to play basketball at Larkey Park, about the same time outsiders got into a beef, and one guy ran to his car and pulled out a baseball bat. Everyone scattered. I stopped going.

    These violent acts are becoming commonplace. We had 4 shootings last year? On a bit wider scale, there has also been an increase in violence in sister communities from Lamorinda. Multiple murders in Orinda, a fast food shooting in Moraga. Often outsiders.

    You neglected to mention new liberal laws decriminalizing certain crimes, “early release”, the Antifa / BLM riots / violence condoned by the Left, and Covid lockdowns.

    I don’t believe it’s reasonable to accept more “murderous” behavior! Assertive action could change the tide, including:

    – reverse soft-on-crime laws
    – weekend DUI checkpoints
    – weekend foot patrols
    – clamp down on problematic nightclubs
    – more staffing on Fri & Sat nights

    While we may still ocassionally have violence, we can send the message to murderous elements that they are unwanted.

    • Mark – Data belies your perception of spiraling violent crime in Walnut Creek.

      How do you know that the brawlers you fled at Larky Park were “outsiders?” What does “outsiders” mean? Is someone from a different county, a different area code or different state an “outsider”? Even if you contend that folks from nearby cities such as Oakland and Berkeley (both of which share a border with Orinda) are “outsiders,” your contention that only “outsiders” are prone to mayhem ignores our local hall of shame contenders.

      Do remember Cory Williams? (Los Lomas) Joe Verducci (Northgate)? Brian Tomasello (Northgate)? Scott Dyleski (Acalanes)? Insiders all! Now all are inside prison walls for horrific crimes, each sentenced to breathe his last breath on the inside. Many other local sons and a few daughters are doing hard time for less heinous but nonetheless disturbing crimes. (Hint to all parents: Spend time with your kids!)

      During your nostalgic mid-nineties, when “certain crimes” (e.g., cannabis possession) were enforced vigorously and punished severely, Walnut Creek’s violent crime rate was more than 1/3 higher than it has been during the last decade.* (I do agree that dismissing destructive, violative property crimes as “quality of life” issues invites marginally more criminality. Such conduct should be prosecuted as criminal offenses, though the trend towards reclassifying wobblers as misdemeanors lacks any tangible nexus to violent crime trends beyond weak correlations.) Though the recent uptick in violence is concerning to be sure and tragic for those affected, the violent crime rate has rebounded to roughly same rate as the mid- to late-1990s and late 2000s. The rate of change is consistent the historical volatility of the data series.

      *Walnut Creek Violent Crime Rate per 100k population by year:

      1995 – 210
      1996 – 248
      1997 – 226
      1998 – 205
      1999 – 188
      2000 – 193
      2001 – 200
      2002 – 202
      2003 – 161
      2004 – 174
      2005 – 199
      2006 – 174
      2007 – 142
      2008 – 228
      2009 – 207
      2010 – 180
      2011 – 106
      2012 – 128
      2013 – 118
      2014 – 110
      2015 – 133
      2016 – 112
      2017 – 150
      2018 – 154
      2019 – 120
      2020 – 136
      2021 (YTD as of May 31, annualized): 207

      Sources:
      1995-2019: FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program
      1995-2002 and 2019 (https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s); 2003-2018 (www.macrotrends.net/cities/us/ca/walnut-creek/crime-rate-statistics)
      2020 only: https://openjustice.doj.ca.gov/exploration/crime-statistics/crimes-clearances
      2021 only: https://www.walnut-creek.org/departments/public-safety/police/crime-statistics

      • If you look at 35 years of data, one can make many claims. Homicides are up 3 or 6 fold, depending on your baseline. The Creek went 5 years at one point without a single murder. Last year we got lucky, the 4 shooters apparently had poor aim. Both stats are chilling for a city used to .5 murders every year (average). (The previous anomaly was 2 murders in 2007.) You can’t recover from murder.

        Property crime up 20%, larceny theft up 28%.

        Two macro trends affect these numbers (crime). 1. Walnut Creek baby boomers have aged, older folks commit substantially less crime. 2. Undocumented immigrants are far less likely to report crime for fear of deportation.

        I played regularly at Larkey, everybody knew the locals & outsiders. Locals & peaceful visitors migrated elsewhere. We weren’t dumb.

        Outsiders sometimes have different values & norms. Our crew preferred athletics & friendship, not violence or preening. A woman on Nextdoor was belittling our values as “sheltered” because she came from Oakland, where murders are a weekly occurrence.

        The Walnut Creek I know doesn’t value violence, crime, hard drugs, gangs, car jacking and guns to resolve minor disagreements.

        • @Mark – The recent increase in crime is absolutely concerning, especially for the victims.

          Nonetheless, it is important to consider that the that the increase is not unique to Walnut Creek. Indeed, violent crime has been increasing nationwide since the 2014 trough. As the data lays bare, the recent uptick in violent crime is an increase from an historically anomalous, generational low base. It not for the sharp rate or change, the 2021 YTD data in full context suggest more of a reversion to the mean than an alarming spike.

          (While technically correct, it’s a bit misleading to aver that murders “tripled” YoY because there was one outlier event last year and three, unrelated incidents this year.)

          I was a very young child in the 1980s and early 1990s, so I cannot speak to what you observed (or perceived) at Lackey Park a half century ago.

        • @Mark – What “different values & norms” distinguish “outsiders” from hooligans born and bred in Walnut Creek?

          Are people from Oakland “outsiders?” What about people from Piedmont?

          A local kid from Matinez fatally shot a Door Dash driver over a petty road rage quarrel on YVR a couple weeks ago. Are folks from Matinez (6 miles north of the 24/680 stack) “outsiders?” If so, what “values & norms” characterize the good folks of Diablo (7 miles southeast) or Blackhawk (~10 miles) as “outsiders?”

          • During the ‘social justice’ rallies / riots / mayhem, I’m told by locals that HomeDepot & Best Buy were emptied out in Oakland. (Classic footage on CNN declared “mostly peaceful protests” in other cities as buildings were burned and stores looted.)

            We witnessed widespread looting and pillaging in downtown Walnut Creek as the police slowly marched down Main Street (were they given orders not to arrest anyone?), and one young lady from Oakland was shot by a comrade from outside the area. Decades in the area, I never once saw local residents riot, loot, and conduct a drive-by shooting.

            Like San Francisco, apparently Walgreens in East Oakland has a significant “leakage” problem (theft). So even with armed Oakland police on duty, they’re closing. I feel bad for the seniors.

            https://oaklandside.org/2021/07/22/deep-east-oakland-residents-walgreens-pharmacy-closure/

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