Is there anything you have ever wanted to know from the police department? Well, this is your chance to ask.
Patch has always strived to bring its readers all types of information and keep them updated on what is happening in their communities. It is with that in mind that we bring you our newest column, “Ask A Cop.” We will be teaming up with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies from around the county to answer your questions.
Whether you have a question about certain laws and how they might affect you, your family or friends or how to stay safe in certain situations, we want you to ask them. Every week we will run one question and answer. To submit a question, email Shannon.firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I saw someone with a flashlight looking into a neighbor's car. He saw me and then took off. It looked like if he hadn't seen me, he was going to break into the car. What should I have done? Should I have stopped him? Yelled? Called the police?”
This is a great question because sooner or later everyone sees or hears something at or near their home that causes concern for their safety or their property, or for their neighbors. We generally recommend that you avoid confrontation with suspects whenever possible. If someone is prowling around your neighborhood, call 911 as soon as possible so police arrive in the area quicker, which increases the likelihood of catching suspects. Although it’s probably dark out, the more information you can provide the better–number of suspects, type and color of clothing, age brackets. These kinds of broad descriptions allow the police to eliminate others as they enter the area and focus on possible suspects. You may also consider turning on outside lights. This will allow you to see the suspects better and let them know you saw them, which should encourage them to stop what they are doing and leave–which is what you really want. Deputies and police receive these types of calls frequently, and we often find the suspects in or near the area and arrest them when our response times are good.
We think this is the best response because it is the safest response. If you go out and confront someone, it may lead to violence and you may get hurt. If you bring a weapon to the situation it increases the chances someone will get hurt, and the suspect could have a weapon too. If that were the case, the whole situation has escalated from a prowling or property crime to a dangerous one with an uncertain outcome. It is not a matter of who was right and who was wrong–we all know the suspect should not have been there in the first place–it’s a matter of your safety. Imagine how your family would feel if you went outside to take care of the situation and you wind up in the emergency room with injuries! At minimum you will have to recover from your injuries, possibly miss work and pay medical bills–not to mention the fear and concern experienced by you and your family. We don’t think it is worth it and we want to respond to these kinds of calls so you don’t assume these risks. Stay safe!
-Deputy April Skalland, Sheriff’s Office