This article was written by BenitoLink intern Juliana Luna
On July 30, the Hollister Police Department held two community meetings to gather input from residents as they develop their next strategic plan. Eighteen people attended the meetings including school district employees, county and Hollister planners, retired police officers, families, and local residents.
Pete Dunbar, a retired police chief from Pleasant Hill, now travels the country to provide public safety strategic planning. He consults with police departments nationwide to help create three- to five-year strategic plans.
The sessions were held at Hollister Recreation Community Center and gathered concerns from the English- and Spanish-speaking communities. Resource Management Agency Assistant Director Abraham Prado helped translate during the Spanish meeting. HPD said the information collected during the meetings will be sent out as a survey to those who could not attend.
Police Chief Carlos Reynoso briefly welcomed the attendees, then departed from the meeting. Reynoso said his absence would encourage everyone to share their opinions freely.
Dunbar went from table to table, asking about the strengths of the Hollister Police Department. Many praised the department’s engagement through social media such as Facebook and Instagram, as well as the use of Nixle, a program used by emergency response agencies to issue alerts by email or text. Attendees also praised HPD’s community spirit, officer diversity and presence in the city.
Dunbar sought feedback on what HPD needs to improve.
“No wrong answers,” Dunbar said, asking attendees to offer views “based on what you see and hear.”
Attendees in both sessions said 911 call operations in the county should be brought back, and that more training on ethics is needed.
Jan Grist, a retired teacher and Hollister School District trustee, said traffic violations should be cited more. Grist said roads near schools lack supervision making them unsafe for students to walk.
She said she came to the meeting “to leave an impact on everyone.”
Jorge Sayon, a Hollister resident for 13 years who previously lived in Mexico City, compared the police to Mexican law enforcement. He said there’s a good number of officers in town, ensuring he felt safe. Sayon found the event online and said he attended to be informed and add his voice to the discussion.
Reynoso told BenitoLink it was nice to see people taking time out of their busy lives to give input.
“I believe community input is a crucial part of creating a strategic plan for a police department,” he said. “We will take those suggestions brought up in the meetings and also the upcoming public surveys to create, in a sense, a roadmap for our future policing and a focusing of our resources to address the demands of our community.”
He added, “Dunbar shared some of the issues that were brought up. Several of them were things that we are already doing. However, that brought up the point that we need to do a better job in communicating with our public to let them know what we are doing. We plan on addressing those concerns soon in a public manner so we don’t have to wait until the strategic plan comes out in a few months.”
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