Sheriff's Office notes improved response times

A recently released public safety report for the first six months of the year indicates the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office has consistently met contractual response times for emergency calls in Los Altos Hills. In fact, there are no lapses through June, a marked improvement from the same time period in 2018 and 2017, when three and eight lapses occurred, respectively.

Los Altos Hills City Council members have indicated they want to make emergency response times a priority, said Capt. Rich Urena, West Valley Patrol Division commander for the Sheriff’s Office.

“Make no mistake: I gave some orders. I said, ‘We need to be more responsive. We need to be more prompt in our response,’ to my staff,” he said.

According to the Sheriff’s Office contract with Los Altos Hills, the agreed-upon response time for Priority 1 calls (life-or-death emergency situations, typically involving lights and sirens) is 9 minutes, followed by 14 minutes for Priority 2 calls (crimes against a person not considered life-threatening) and 25 minutes for Priority 3 calls (nonemergencies). The Sheriff’s Office is judged by its ability to keep its average response time for each priority category below the target time.

Urena credited the decision to increase a motorcycle deputy’s hours as the reason for the response time slashing; as of July 2018, Deputy John Prado works in Los Altos Hills all year instead of just three-quarters of the year, so now there are two officers on patrol in town during the daily weekday shift.

Burglaries on the rise

The section of the public safety report that breaks down local crimes by category reveals an uptick in the occurrence of commercial burglaries in town.

Although rural Los Altos Hills is often considered devoid of commercial properties, each home construction project is technically considered commercial because a business is temporarily operating on the site, Urena explained. And as more and more houses are built during this booming time for residential development, more opportunity exists for crime; thieves broke into construction sites and stole tools on one occasion in January and on three occasions in June. Compare that to one commercial burglary in all of 2018 and none in all of 2017.

“If I had to pick a particular crime classification that we’re monitoring to see how this continues to evolve, it’s the people coming onto construction sites and stealing things,” Urena said.

Residential burglaries and auto burglaries are also slightly up. Through June, criminals committed 14 residential burglaries and four auto burglaries compared to 11 residential burglaries and one auto burglary committed during the first six months of 2018 and seven residential burglaries and one auto burglary committed during the first six months of 2017.

Urena encourages anyone who notices anything suspicious in town to call 911 immediately, as timing is critical when tracking suspects and recovering stolen goods.

“Our goal is to have zero residential burglaries and zero vehicles burglaries, and of course that response time, we want to make sure we’re as responsive as we can be,” he said. “When someone calls 911, we want to get there as quickly as we can, regardless of the priority of the call.”

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