Hemet Police Chief Dave Brown, hoping to get more leads in the city’s open violent crime cases, gained the approval of the Hemet City Council to provide a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators.
The rewards would be given to the anonymous provider of the information through the long-established Crime Stoppers Plus program. The rewards would only be issued with the consent of the council. The informants would remain anonymous even to the police through the program, Brown explained, during the March 28 regular Hemet council meeting. They would only know the informant by a code number.
Brown said he hoped the reward will provide some new leads for the homicides now under investigation by Hemet police detectives.
“We believe offering the financial incentive and guaranteeing anonymity we will get better tips,” Brown said.
Families of two homicide victims, Daniel Ramirez and Marine veteran Nick Males, attended the city council meeting, encouraging the council to approve the reward plan and speed up the process of adding more police detectives to the Hemet Police Department with the Measure U public safety sales tax funds. The Measure U one-cent sales tax measure passed by voters in November 2016 to bolster the city’s public safety departments as of April 1, is being collected from local merchandise purchases.
The tax money will not be returned immediately to the city by the State Board of Equalization who collects the money for the city until June when yearly city budgets are being established.
“That’s just not fast enough,” one Ramirez family member said in public comment.
Meanwhile, the city council has provided the police and fire departments with almost $2 million from the General Fund, resulting in the early hiring of new police officers and firefighter paramedics. The forwarded money will be repaid to the General Fund by the collected Measure U sales tax monies.
Brown told the council that the department has been successful in securing several law enforcement grants that will provide money for the purchase of a new crime scene investigation vehicle and a fully equipped Joint Crisis Response Team vehicle that will be used in conjunction with the Riverside University Health System’s Department of Behavioral Health.
Brown told the council the purchase of the crime scene investigation vehicle which costs of $102,595 will be covered by the Supplemental Law Enforcement Services Grant fund and utilized through a federal government general services administration contract. The new vehicle replaces the department’s 17-year-old Ford vehicle and crime scene unit that is completely out of date.
He said another good thing came with the purchase, in addition to the most up-to-day crime scene investigation tools and equipment, there is a “40-hour course for two crime scene investigators to learn the equipment and evidence collection methods.”
In his report, Brown said, “This project supports the city council’s stated goals to improve public safety and quality of life in the city of Hemet. This vehicle will enhance the department’s investigative capabilities and improve solvability, especially in the investigation of violent crime. Additionally, the purchase and implementation of this mobile unit addresses the Police Department’s strategic initiatives to reduce crime and the fear of crime, to inspire staff and engage in smart policing.”
The council in a 4-0 vote in the absence of Councilman Russ Brown, also accepted Chief Brown’s recommendation to purchase a patrol vehicle, uniforms and safety equipment for use by a Crisis Response Team that would respond to victims, suspects and others affected or threatened by crime or mental health issues.
The Crisis Response Team will be in partnership with the Riverside University Health System’s Department of Behavioral Health.
“This will not be a police vehicle,” Chief Brown explained.
He noted the department has been in discussions with the university’s Department of Health for the past 18 months before the request for the Crisis Team was made. His report explained, “Key components of the discussions have been the high volume of mental health-related calls and subsequent mental health detentions and commitments in the city of Hemet over the past several years.
“Research and practical experience clearly indicate that early intervention by a behavioral health professional can result in a more positive outcome. Early field intervention results in better, more appropriate care and disposition for the person in crisis, as-well-as family, friends and the community at large. There are two important populations in the city being underserved currently: homeless and youth. This team will have the ability to focus on those high-risk populations.”
The $69,197.58 cost of the vehicle will be recovered by the city from a law enforcement grant earlier accepted by the city council from the California board of state and community corrections.