A century’s worth of safety

By: Susan Belknap Press-Tribune Editor
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– Editor’s note: This is the second article in a monthly series highlighting the city of Roseville as it approaches its 100th year as a city. In 1905 when the population of the Roseville area was about 300 people, the duties of law enforcement officers centered on disputed land claims. The Roseville Fire Department had similar beginnings with its volunteer force of 16 firefighters in 1907. Today, more than 100 years and 100,000 people later, the Roseville Police Department employs about 1.2 officers per 1,000 Roseville residents and the fire department has grown to 128 employees who man eight fire stations as well as offer personnel support throughout the city. Much has changed since those early days before Roseville attained cityhood when drunkenness, gambling and prostitution were the crimes that occupied most of the force’s time. As Roseville approaches its 100th birthday next April, Roseville Police Chief Mike Blair said it’s property crimes that take up much of the force’s time and efforts these days. “Property crime is up 7 percent and 70 percent of our arrests are of people outside of Roseville,” Blair said. “There are people who want to come into town and take things from our citizens.” In order to reduce property crimes Blair advises residents to try to limit the opportunities thieves have to steal from them. Simple precautions include keeping garage doors closed and Blair advises keeping valuables out of sight as well as just using common sense precautions. As for violent crime, Blair said it has been flat since 1995 and Roseville’s rate is 30 percent lower than the state’s average. Aggravated assaults are down by 20 percent this year as well as robberies, which are down by 34 percent. “We are pro-active in addressing issues,” Blair said. “We are a full-service police department. When someone calls in we come out and take a report. We don’t just tell people to go online and fill out a report. We send an officer. We’ve always been that way.” Blair said the department also focuses on community policing and getting neighborhoods involved. There are approximately 60 volunteers who work in every area of the department including the Citizens on Patrol, who keep an eye on various Roseville neighborhoods, volunteers in the dispatch office and other administrative areas as well. “In addition we have more than 300 Neighborhood Watch groups in existence with more added each week,” Blair said. Blair said if a Roseville resident hears a strange noise outside in the middle of the night, the Roseville Police Department encourages residents to call. The same goes for the fire department. Division Chief and Fire Marshal Dennis Mathisen and Fire Chief Ken Wagner said if a resident has a medical emergency and need assistance, the Roseville Fire Department can be at the scene in about six minutes. According to Wagner, each fire station is staffed with a three-person paramedic engine company. Paramedics are highly trained and licensed after completing 1,500 hours of instruction and receiving state certification. From 2006 to 2007 Wagner said the Roseville Fire Department responded to more than 10,000 calls for service with 70 percent of those calls requiring emergency medical service. In addition to trained personnel, the city of Roseville is ready to open a new Emergency Operations Center, which will be located at the Martha Riley Community Library. Wagner and Mathisen said in case of an emergency such as a flood, hazardous material accident or even a power outage the emergency center provides a central location for all emergency response personnel to operate. Currently the center operates out of the Oak Street fire station. Wagner said he’s proud of the level of service of fire protection, rescue operations and emergency medical services the Roseville Fire Department is able to provide the citizens of Roseville. “We are an internationally accredited department,” Wagner said. “We go through rigorous evaluations of the department to receive this accreditation. Roseville is one of four departments in the state that have this level of accreditation.” The high level of accreditation relates to the department’s response time, its training program and fire prevention programs and financial and dispatch capabilities. In addition to the accreditation, both Wagner and Matheson said the Roseville Fire Department has helped to save lives by providing paramedics on all their apparatuses who have knowledge of cardiac defibrillation. The department also features a hazard response team. “We pride ourselves on being able to handle any type of emergency,” Wagner said. Mathisen said the fire department is also the lead agency for Placer County Safe Kids program, which advocates youth safety in the areas of life jackets, bike safety and fire prevention. “All of these programs have helped to save lives and contribute to the city’s goal of providing a safe and healthy community for all its residents,” Mathisen said. “Our motto is to seek opportunities to serve. It’s what our citizens expect.”