During last Tuesday’s regular Trinidad City Council meeting, a good portion of time was taken to address crime and vagrant concerns. Many in the community have expressed over the past few weeks they would like to see changes. Beginning the conversation was a presentation by Trinidad Police Department Chief Charlie Glorioso, who presented an accurate, current report of 2019 crime numbers.
Glorioso said that there were many factors to consider when looking at crime statistics and that without knowing the full picture, drawing conclusions about rankings or performance can be misleading.
“A lot of cities don’t report a full report and some don’t report at all,” said Glorioso. “That’s going to change in 2021 because now that’s going to be mandated.”
He also added that TPD does full reports that automatically populate numbers into their system after an officer enters a report into their system. Glorioso said another factor that affects numbers now as compared to the past has to do with requirements of the department changing over time.
“Before 2012 or 2014, we were only required to list the top crime. So, say you had an incident where there was a robbery, a homicide, and a vehicle theft, you would just put the homicide,” said Glorioso. “Those other crimes weren’t counted so it kind of skewed the numbers from then going forward because now all those crimes are reported and populated into our crime report.”
Glorioso reported that though they currently have 27 sworn-in personnel, not all of them are currently able to have their boots on the ground just yet. This makes the department currently more reactive than proactive, the Chief said, because it takes time to get new officers through the academy.
“We have 27 sworn-in personnel and that includes the three that city council gave me last year,” said Glorioso. “Those three are currently in the academy. I’ve got three that are currently in FTO [Field Training Observation], and two that are out due to injury. So we’re not to that 27 yet but the picture is looking better. Once we get up to staff we can do a lot more proactive stuff.”
Another difficulty for the department is retaining trained officers who may be looking for better pay, Glorioso said.
“If we could give the officers, say, a four percent raise for every four years they’re here, it’s at least giving them something that says we appreciate and acknowledge a person that has that experience is going to be valuable to our community,” said Glorioso.
Glorioso also explained part of moving in the right direction was to get behind the Neighborhood and Business Watch programs.
With the recent Neighborhood Watch meeting held at the Trinidad Police Department, Glorioso said 12 individuals came forward that were interested in serving as captains for their neighborhood. Later this month, the department will hold another meeting, this time for Business Watch to accomplish the same ends as the former. This Business Watch meeting will be held on February 27 at 6 p.m. at the Trinidad Police Department.
By citizens being aware of their neighborhoods or businesses and calling the police when something isn’t right or seems suspicious, Glorioso explained this gives them more eyes and ears in the field.
“These are two proactive steps to get the community more involved to help us patrol our city,” said Glorioso. “We heard it a lot at the [Neighborhood Watch] meeting the other night; well we don’t call be cause we don’t want to bother you. We need the calls. The more calls we get, the more effective we are at combating crime.”
After being asked about the drug related crimes in town, Glorioso explained that there were several things the area is working towards to help achieve results.
“The community has really stepped up and we’re going forward as far as attacking it not just from a law-enforcement side, but a prevention side, education side, and treatment side.
Councilmember Franklin Shew brought up an incident of an individual who he had witnessed come out of the back of the library and said, “He was going spastic, throwing his clothes everywhere and I called the police.”
He said they came right away and had trouble getting him in the police vehicle. Then, Shew explained a few days later he was back out behind the library with a crowbar swinging it around and fighting with other guys.
“What can we do about putting those guys away,” asked Shew.
Glorioso answered by explaining the police were only one part of the solution and that they could make the arrest but it was going to take working with others up the judicial chain.
“We have to work strongly with the district attorney’s office to try to get stiffer sentences,” said Glorioso.
City Attorney Les Downs added that the problem was deeper than locking someone away.
“You can’t incarcerate to isolate from society,” said Downs, “and also if he is detoxing or whatever is going on, he’s probably not getting mental health counseling and might even be the reason why he’s homeless, I don’t know. We’re very limited in terms of what we can do. You can’t just incarcerate someone for, for lack of a better term, going crazy outside the library.”
Jay Gonzales, who had spoken two weeks previously to the issue of crime and drugs in the community, came forward again to explain he had gathered a new perspective on the issue of local crime and drugs after talking extensively with elected officials as well as city and county staff.
“I took a lot of initiative on myself to speak with a lot of people from commissioners to Henry Solano,” said Gonzales, “and really realize the burden you all have before you and that the weight is very heavy not only on the financial responsibility of the city but the safety of the citizens as well.”
“I was really hypercritical of you guys in thinking that you didn’t want to do anything and getting around and speaking with people at the city and county, I really get the sense that everybody wants to do something,” Gonzales said. “They see it as well. I see that there are a lot of people that want to be a part of the answer and they want to work together.”
Gonzales said his ultimate realization was that it was not just the responsibility of the police or the city to solve all of these issues and that the citizens play a pivotal role in combating these problems as well.
“We need to ask for social responsibility from other business owners to light up their places and for citizens to get together and work together,” said Gonzales. “If you see a drug house, call out a drug house. If you see somebody doing something, call it out. Don’t be passive anymore. We all have a great social responsibility for ourselves as well.”
Trinidad resident Michelle Roberts also came forward to share her grievances with the issues of crime and transients and expressed that she would like to see her tax dollars put towards more, better paid police as opposed to catering to the homeless or drug abusers.
“We used to be a dark sky town where you could sit outside and look at the stars,” said Roberts. “I can’t do that anymore. I have to sleep with my lights on. Where’s my tax dollars going for my rights? I have no gripes against the police department; every one of them needs a raise. That’s where I want my tax dollars to go. Everybody I know feels the same way.”
Roberts also explained that the conversation that evening had been eye opening for her and she understood that steps were being taken to combat the problems.
Finishing up the public comment segment of the meeting, Howard Lackey, owner of Moose’s on Main Street, came forward to extrapolate on the previous points of discussion and offer his thoughts on possible solutions moving forward.
“As I’ve been listening to the conversations tonight, everybody asks what we can do and I think the best thing that anybody can do is not sit on their thumbs and not complain, but get out there and actually be involved,” said Lackey. “Part of what’s going on right now about the crime incidents and all the other things is that if we sit there and let it happen then it’s going to happen.”
Lackey also explained that currently, transients just don’t feel a need to go anywhere else.
“We’re the vacation spot on the dark web right now for a lot of these folks so we’ve got to change that,” said Lackey. “We don’t have to be mean, but we just don’t have to be accommodating. As a city, we’re way too accommodating right now. One of the things that the city has to understand is if we make this a little more unfriendly as far as these folks that are just hanging out here, that would help. They don’t have to spend any money to live here; they go to the soup kitchen, dumpster dive at Safeway, they panhandle and buy their booze or whatever, and they’re down there partying on the river.”
“Part of our issue with the transients and the people who hang out down by the river is that half the people who are causing problems down by the river are locals,” said Lackey, who, being on the board of the Purgatoire Watershed Partnership, has spent time surveying the river and the individuals spending time there. “We’ve created something that people want to enjoy; we just need to make sure everybody is responsible.”
As others stated, Lackey explained that it’s going to take the participation of the entire community to make any real difference in the problems we face, and most of that participation is simply calling police when something isn’t right.
“If you see something, say something, because that’s the only way it’s really going to change,” said Lackey. “We don’t have enough room to put them in jail, we have no mental health facilities whatsoever. All it takes is everybody here to understand what we’ve got and to make sure that we protect it. We cannot let them determine and ruin what we have built here so this is something that all of us have to take on as a project.”
Anyone who is witness to a crime is encouraged to call the Trinidad Police Department non-emergency number at 719-846-4441 to report suspicious or criminal activity.