Parkway Crime Rises

A story in the Sacramento Bee today confirms what we, and others close to the situation, know; that Parkway violent crime is increasing under the ineffective management of Sacramento County—where the head County parks ranger, as noted in this article “has expressed ambivalence about enforcing camping restrictions”— and that is a terrible shame.

As we have long suggested, a better option is to have the Parkway managed by a nonprofit organization, outlined in our 2007 research report.

An excerpt from the Sacramento Bee article.

On a morning commute to his downtown Sacramento job, Jim Holland slowed his bike when he saw a man on foot “yelling and cursing” ahead of him on the trail. Holland was too close to escape when he realized it was the same man who had attacked his friend in the same area several months before.

“I was unable to avoid being punched in the jaw,” Holland said of the May 4 incident. “He took issue with me just being there.”

Such attacks have increased on the American River Parkway and the Sacramento Northern Bikeway that connects to downtown, creating anxiety for regular trail users such as bike commuters who rely on the trail to get to work. The attacks have also brutalized homeless campers on the trail.

From Jan. 1 through June 16, 25 violent crimes were reported on or near the trails, a 25 percent increase over the 20 violent crimes reported in the same period in 2016, according to records from Sacramento County Regional Parks and the Sacramento Police Department. All of the reported crimes this year were assaults except for two robberies, a child molestation and a rape.

The parkway has some of the region’s highest concentrations of chronically homeless people, who camp along the American River and other wooded areas on the parkway. Of the 25 reported crimes, at least 16 involved a homeless person, either as a victim, a suspect or both, officials say.

“The majority of the crimes we deal with on the parkway involve the homeless,” said Sacramento County Chief Ranger Michael Doane.

On May 9, a homeless woman reported that she was stabbed in her tent by an unknown assailant. A homeless woman told police she was raped April 30 by a man she did not know and whom officials believe is homeless.

Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna said the increase in parkway crime is further evidence that the county needs to hire more rangers and other county employees to address homelessness on the parkway. He has proposed spending an additional $5 million a year to hire 32 employees to address illegal camping and associated problems such as garbage removal, wildfires and loose dogs.

Earlier this year, Serna failed to win support from fellow supervisors for such hiring. But a majority recently indicated they would support funding for more enforcement along the parkway and elsewhere in the county when they take up the issue again Aug. 23…

Though Doane has expressed ambivalence about enforcing camping restrictions, he said hiring more rangers would allow him to more effectively respond to crime.

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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