VALLEJO, Calif. - The issue of crime in the City of Vallejo is no secret, but the issue has become more worrisome because while crime decreased for many of the Bay Area’s biggest cities, that trend does not hold true for Vallejo.
“I’ve received numerous calls and emails from residents expressing their concerns about the ongoing violence we’ve seen here in Vallejo,” said Mayor Bob Sampayan.
Sampayan was joined by Police Chief Shawny Williams, Councilmember Hakeen Brown, and the head of the local NAACP chapter Thursday to announce an initiative called “Operation P.E.A.C.E,” which stands for "Predictive Enforcement and Community Engagement".
“Just to be frank, we’re at a crossroads here,” said Councilmember Hakeen Brown. “This city, we’ve watched, descend into a city where people no longer feel safe in their homes and their neighborhoods and their communities. This is affecting our children and this is affecting working-class families.
According to Chief Shawny Williams, there have been 209 shootings since the beginning of the year, up a staggering 300%.
Homicide rates have seen a spike of 21% since the beginning of the year, putting Vallejo on track to break a record 30 murders set back in 1994.
Chief Williams says one of the main purposes of Operation P.E.A.C.E is for his department to build a connection with the community.
While trying to clean up crime on the streets, the department is navigating issues inside its own house with roughly 17 police-involved shootings over the last decade.
Among them is Ronell Foster in 2018, who was stopped by police for “riding a bike erratically without a headlamp.”
Foster, who was unarmed at the time, was shot and killed during a confrontation with an officer.
Willy McCoy died after being shot by Vallejo police officers 55 times in the drive-thru of a Taco Bell in February of 2019.
At the time, “McCoy” was sleeping in the vehicle and had a gun on his lap.
The chief says improvements are being made within the department.
“One of the things that we are doing as a police department is improving our processes, the organization structure our training and we’re and we’re going to continue to do that,” Chief Williams said.
Williams is calling for the department to double the amount of its officers to 180, a move the Vallejo Police Officer's Association supports.