SAN BENITO — The recent vandalism case may be in the rearview mirror, but Interim Police Chief Michael Galvan is encouraging the community to be more vigilant to help stop future incidents.
Galvan discussed heavily the need for more community policing during the Chamber of Commerce “Coffee With” session Wednesday morning.
Earlier this month, six adults and two juveniles were charged with criminal mischief in connection to the vandalism of more than 60 cars around town.
Police estimated the damage at or around $50,000.
City residents took a hit when the teens rode around town in a pickup truck late at night randomly spray painting cars and breaking car windows in multiple neighborhoods.
“These were kids who were bored,” Galvan said.
Now, Galvan’s goal is to team up with the school district and other groups to write grants and fund programs for kids.
The aim is to catch kids at an early age deterring them from committing any sort of crime.
“That’s one of the big things we are trying to push. Our little ones are where everything starts. If we don’t reach out to them and try to grab their attention then the people on the street will,” Galvan told members of the San Benito Chamber of Commerce.
“We need them to look at us as their role models. Right now they’re watching TV and these crazy games and that’s what they are living off of.”
With only about five or six police officers patrolling at one time, Galvan said it’s difficult to catch everything.
The interim chief suggested everyone, including parents, business owners and children, be educated and informed.
“We need to start working smart and not hard,” he said. “We need to be proactive.”
There are several ways residents can own their city. Some of those are through neighborhood watch groups, volunteering and registering on the social network Nextdoor.com.
Galvan said Nextdoor is a social network that can be used by everyone in the community.
It’s an easy way for you and your neighbors to talk online and make all of your lives better in the real world.
The use of this social network is free.
According to its website, people are using Nextdoor to quickly get the word out about a break-in, organize a neighborhood watch group, track down a babysitter, find out who does the best paint job in town, staying informed with neighbors and asking for help.
“We need to start owning our own city, neighbor hood and block,” Galvan said. “We need to reach out to our neighbors. A lot of people say that they don’t know their neighbors and that’s a shame.”
With Nextdoor, users can join their neighborhood online and interact with each other.
“The people in that bubble will share information and we will also put out information, too,” Galvan said.
Prior to the vandalism, Galvan said, weeks before, several arrests were made regarding other reports of vandalism.
Those reports were made through Nextdoor.
“They had license plates and names of the kids,” Galvan said. “That’s the kind of help we need.”