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Councilman Urges Decoy Police Cars

May 15, 2000|JOSH KARP

Hoping to further suppress crime in one of America's safest large cities, Councilman Mike Markey wants the city to consider instituting a decoy police car program.

If adopted, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, which provides police services for Thousand Oaks, would station a backup patrol vehicle at several locations around the city on various days and hours. An officer would not be stationed with the car, but Markey said the vehicle's presence would deter crime because most people wouldn't know it was unattended.

The councilman said he would make the proposal to his colleagues Tuesday at the council's next meeting.

Markey said the Compton Police Department, his former employer, used a similar program. Compton police often placed vehicles in areas where there were numerous calls for police service or in areas that experienced a rash of crimes, he said.

"In the areas where we were having problems, we put the car out and had a reduction in those problems," Markey said. "We moved it around, and it does work."

The Sheriff's Department has extra vehicles for local deputies to use when their usual cars are being serviced or when they must drive to Ventura for a court hearing, said Cmdr. Keith Parks, who acts as the city's police chief.

Because the city would be using existing cars, there would be no cost to start the program, Markey said.

"That's the beauty of the whole thing," he said. "There is no financial impact to the city, because we're using preexisting equipment."

Parks agrees that a decoy program could have positive results.

"A patrol car in an area that has a problem might make people causing that problem to think and stop," he said.

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