Letter from Millbrae Police Chief Roger Copeland
September 6, 2016
Dear Millbrae Residents,
It’s been three months since I was assigned to serve as Chief of the Millbrae Police Bureau, a position I have taken with great pride and responsibility. Already, we have grown much together, and I have listened intently to your concerns regarding the rise in burglaries in our neighborhoods and vandalism at our parks. While these problems still exist, I want to let you know of some of the things the Police Bureau is doing to address them.
In July, I hosted a community meeting to openly discuss burglaries in Millbrae, and develop a two-way relationship with you. My deputies and I want to build and maintain an open door policy with you. To be available to address your concerns, help with neighborhood organizing, and respond to potential threats as quickly as possible. We want to ensure you feel secure in calling 9-1-1 whenever you see something wrong or out of place. Currently, our response time for emergency calls for service is just over 3 minutes (3:13). Our promise is to respond and communicate with you, but we need you to stay vigilant and call 9-1-1.
Last month, I reported to the Mayor and City Council on crime statistics for the first half of the year (January 1 through June 30, 2016). While still very low compared to other Peninsula cities, robberies and burglaries have both risen this year. This last quarter (April 1 through June 30), there were four robberies and 24 burglaries in Millbrae.
Robberies are a threat we take very seriously. Of the four reported robberies this last quarter, arrests were made in three of the cases. Two of the robberies originated as a shoplifting, but turned into a robbery when the suspects brandished a weapon. The weapons displayed were a knife and a box cutter. The third robbery was an attempted carjacking, when the suspect jumped into the victim’s unattended vehicle. A struggle occurred between the two, until the Sheriff’s Office arrived and took the suspect into custody. The fourth robbery was an attempt, when the suspect tried unsuccessfully to physically take the victim’s wallet. In all these cases, the victims were not injured.
Burglary is a crime that my patrol personnel continually work to combat. During this last quarter, the City experienced a noticeable increase (14%) in residential burglaries. But, the increase in burglaries is not isolated to Millbrae. It’s a regional issue that has infected every city in San Mateo County. To help combat this rise, law enforcement agencies in San Mateo County continuously share information to help solve these crimes. We have also joined forces to establish the Burglary Enforcement Suppression Team (BEST). BEST’s goal is to concentrate resources in burglary hotspots throughout the County, and apprehend those responsible as quickly as possible.
In June, Mayor Oliva openly addressed concerns with vandalism at the skate park. Since then, the Police Bureau has stepped up enforcement with uniformed and undercover officers patrolling the area. In addition, surveillance cameras have been installed at the park to help my detectives investigate and identify the perpetrators of these crimes. Like all good response efforts though, we need your help. If you see anyone destroy or vandalize any of our parks, please call 9-1-1 to report it.
More often than not, my job as the Chief of Police is to report bad news. But I don’t want to paint a bad picture of our community. The City of Millbrae has been, and still is, one of the safest cities in California. Our community is well organized, our neighbors are making great efforts to build good relationships with one another, and we are working together to proactively address our problems.
This summer, my deputies have attended several neighborhood meetings and conducted presentations on forming Neighborhood Watch programs. The Mills Estates neighborhood group continues to make progress in their formation. We are working with public works to get several “Neighborhood Watch” signs posted for them. In addition, I have deployed some of my deputies to conduct patrols on bicycles throughout downtown, on Spur Trail and surrounding neighborhoods, as well as, school grounds.
My goal in all of this is to increase our combined presence and efforts to address the robberies, burglaries and vandalism that not only impact our daily lives, but diminish our community spirit and morale. I am thankful and proud of my deputies and all the residents in Millbrae for making our relationship a priority. We have made significant progress, and I know, by working together, our crime rates will get better in the months ahead.
Chief of Police
Millbrae Police Bureau, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office