GREENFIELD — King City and Greenfield police departments are joining forces to investigate major crimes in both jurisdictions through a collaborative unit established by the cities to pool resources and solve these cases, with the intent of bringing offenders to justice more swiftly.
King City Council approved the memorandum of understanding between the two cities for a Major Crimes Unit at its Nov. 14 meeting. Greenfield City Council was expected to support the agreement at its special meeting Tuesday night, after press deadlines.
“Violent crimes have been increasingly on the rise, not only in the cities of Greenfield and King City, but in California in general,” said King City Police Chief Robert Masterson in his Nov. 14 report to the council. “At the same time, municipal resources are stretched further and further as more areas of responsibility are pushed to the local level.”
Greenfield and King City both rank in the top 25 percent of the highest violent crimes reported for cities with 20,000 residents or fewer in the state of California, according to 2016 statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice. Last year Greenfield reported 56 violent crimes, while King City had 47.
“Many of these investigations take Greenfield police personnel outside the city in pursuit of information, leads and suspects,” said interim Greenfield Police Chief Tony Sollecito in his Nov. 8 council report. “Often, the investigation takes our investigators to King City or other south Monterey County cities.”
Both cities have assisted each other with emergencies in the past, but each one has maintained its own police department and respective investigations in their area. Though the cities can call upon allied agencies, such as the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office, to help with major cases, they too are experiencing limited resources.
“These agencies are having limited resources as well and are additionally responsible for other cases in Monterey County,” Masterson said. “These factors mean these agencies frequently cannot assist to the completion of an investigation and also do not have the local connection to the cases our agencies experience.”
The Major Crimes Unit will combine resources and personnel from both police departments. King City has agreed to assign a full-time detective and a part-time supervisor to the team, with Greenfield assigning a full-time detective and a part-time crime scene investigator in addition to providing office space at its police station.
“Assigning a Greenfield detective to the Major Crimes Unit will significantly enhance the police department’s ability to conduct violent crime and gang investigations by leveraging our personnel with the other agency Major Crimes Unit members, serving as a force multiplier,” Sollecito said.
Masterson said this assignment will not reduce the allocated staffing levels in investigations or patrol bureaus at the department.
The chiefs believe both cities will benefit from having a joint crime unit operating in the region. In their council reports, Masterson and Sollecito said having more investigators work a major crime “increases the probability of solving the case as multiple investigators can conduct investigative tasks simultaneously.”
“Extensive cases in these two cities require personnel support beyond our existing capacity. As a result, we will seek assistance from our regional law enforcement partners,” they added. “We have found that the more often this occurs, the more successful we are at identifying and arresting those who engage in gang and/or violent activity within our community.”
Both agencies will budget $3,000 annually for general operational costs for the unit, beginning at mid-year for fiscal year 2017-18 on Dec. 31.