WALNUT CREEK -- A group from Rossmoor residents presented more than 1,000 petition signatures to the Walnut Creek City Council Tuesday asking for an increased police budget and to hire more officers for a stronger police presence in the gated community.
"We are senior citizens, we are more vulnerable then other citizens in Walnut Creek," Rossmoor resident Stuart Bolinger said Tuesday night.
For months, a group that calls itself Toward A Safer Rossmoor (TASR) has been working to collect the 1,168 signatures -- not door-to-door, but at various get-togethers and events around the adult community. Some in Rossmoor became concerned after burglaries rose from 12 in 2011 to 21 in 2012. That still is only 4.7 percent of the city's total burglaries for 2012, which the police chief has said in the past is a relatively low number.
Nevertheless, some in Rossmoor are quite concerned, even scared, said Stephanie Asker, founder of the group. And it's not just burglaries, but because motorcycle traffic cops were pulled to be put on basic patrol last year, it's made the roads in Rossmoor less safe, she said.
A patrol unit still covers the area and "drives through Rossmoor all the time," even though residents may not see them, Chief Joel Bryden said Tuesday. That area of town is also in the same patrol sector as downtown, he said.
The petition doesn't just ask for more police but reminds council members that while Rossmoor is 16.7 percent of the city's population they produce 25 to 33 percent of the votes in each local election.
Not solely in response to the Rossmoor demands, Bryden -- who retires from his job this week -- has been working to beef up the staffing. There are 70 officers in the department now, with more expected to start in the coming year, going up to 78 positions, he said. Compared to 2008, the department is down by two officers currently, Bryden said.
Not all Rossmoorians are worried. Diane Longshore spoke at Tuesday's meeting and said the group was not truthful about the crime in Rossmoor as they gathered signatures for their petition. She quoted a recent article in the Rossmoor News from Golden Rain Foundation President Don Liddle that said a study by the foundation found thefts in Rossmoor have declined 26 percent from 2010 to 2012.
One good thing coming out of this safety debate in Rossmoor is that some have decided to form a Neighborhood Watch group. Longshore thinks those who are concerned should join.
"I think the distribution of resources should be left to the police and the administration to decide," she said.
Contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617. Follow her at Twitter.com/enardi10.