Copyright © 2011 Vallejo Lamplighter. All rights reserved.

Though this article from the San Francisco Chronicle suffers from the usual
knee-jerk Bash Vallejo negativity, it does also thankfully address the active
community response to the crime problem.
One City Takes On a Plague of Prostitution.,8599,2060969,00.html
Vallejo's Neighborhood Watch program has garnered statewide media interest, like
prostitution along Sonoma Boulevard:

    Vallejo Sets Up Surveillance Cameras To Curb Prostitution
What is the real problem with downtown,
and will more medical marijuana outlets make it worse?"

    July 7, 2011 — Vallejo Times Herald (

    Prostitution, other crimes diminish in parts of Vallejo with addition of
    video cameras

    One of Vallejo’s most active corners for public solicitation, prostitution and general
    loitering has turned into a “ghost town,” local business owners and anti-prostitution
    advocates say.

    Much of the apparent change, namely at locations like Tennessee Street and Sonoma
    Boulevard, is attributed by some to the Vallejo Police Department’s month-old video
    surveillance cameras.

    Vallejo business owner Raymond Prather said he has appreciated the change in
    atmosphere for at least part of a busy Vallejo thoroughfare.

    “Tennessee and Sonoma was so bad for a minute, I wouldn’t stop there even to get
    gas,” said Prather, owner of Victory Stores on Virginia Street. “But since they put that
    camera there … it’s like a ghost town, but you go two more blocks down Sonoma
    Boulevard, they’re still there, in my opinion, the cameras have made 100 percent

    There are now six video surveillance cameras installed around Vallejo and under
    control of the police department. Five of the six were paid for by community business
    owner Buck Kamphausen, and the last paid for by the police.

    Vallejo police Sgt. Jeff Bassett said it is too soon to tell what impact the cameras have
    had on area crime. Bassett added that the department is working through several
    operability issues with the cameras, and met with technology consultants Tuesday to
    discuss potential system expansion.

    “We’re working out IT issues and trying to make them more operable,” Bassett said.
    “We took a step toward that yesterday, the possibilities of what these cameras can do
    are really limitless.”

    Local business owner Ken Ingersoll said elimination of prostitution near the police
    cameras has been beyond his expectations. In fact, Ingersoll, a board member of the
    Central Core Restoration Corporation, thinks his group should redirect all its downtown
    security funding into buying more of the police cameras around town.

    “The prostitutes don’t care about the cameras — it’s the ‘johns,’ ” Ingersoll said. “It’s
    not just a camera sitting on the side of a building. You have a blue strobing (light).
    If you’re a john looking for a prostitute, I don’t know if you would want to pick up a
    prostitute under a camera with a blue strobe on it.”

    Cameras are on or near Sonoma Boulevard and Tennessee Street, Georgia and Marin
    streets, Capitol and Marin Streets, Marin and Pennsylvania streets, near Vallejo City
    Park on Marin Street and on York Street, across from the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce,
    Bassett said.

    Vallejo property owner B.J. Conrad, who has been an active part of the city’s most
    recent anti-prostitution effort for nearly a year, said Vallejo’s prostitution trade seems
    to have been “dramatically” disrupted along its main tracks.

    “Visibly, there’s been a huge improvement — huge,” Conrad said.

    City prostitution efforts are still falling short, however, Conrad said. Until the prostitution
    “business model” is disrupted, with arrests, convictions and sentencing, and the
    suspects are better publicized with photographs and names, Conrad said the future
    success of existing efforts are likely limited.

    “It seems, as far as we can tell, that whenever the pressure gets intense, (prostitutes)
    go to the arterial streets, where they can’t be seen as easily,” Conrad said. “Some people
    get upset because (prostitution publicity) paints an ugly picture of Vallejo, but if you
    take a picture, there it is.”

    Conrad also noted a more subtle change in the city’s prostitution activity. “Circuit”
    prostitutes — an influx of newcomers who were apparently rotated in and out of the
    city every few weeks in recent years, have all but disappeared.

    Contact staff writer Jessica A. York at (707) 553-6834 or

    Three men with guns rob woman inside her Vallejo home
    Times-Herald staff report

    Three men held a woman at gunpoint and robbed her of cash and other belongings about
    10 a.m. Wednesday in the 300 block of Avian Drive, Vallejo police Sgt. Herman Robinson said.

    The 22-year-old woman was inside her apartment and alone after home repair workers left
    to get supplies, Robinson said. Apparently the front door had been left open and three men
    came in, all carrying handguns, Robinson said.

    One held a gun to her head, but due to a language barrier she was unable to understand
    what they were saying, Robinson said. They forced her into the master bedroom and made
    her lay down on the bed at gunpoint while they rifled through the dresser drawers and found
    an undisclosed amount of cash, he said.

    The men also rifled through the children's bedroom and then took the woman into the dining
    area where they went through her purse, took her ATM card and then threatened her to get
    the PIN number, Robinson said.

    The suspects are described as black men, each about 25, and 5-feet,10-inches tall and
    weighing 190 pounds.

    One had curly short black hair and was wearing a black T-shirt and blue jeans while the
    second one was wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans and had a white shirt wrapped
    around his face as a mask. The third suspect was wearing a white shirt and black jeans.

    The three may be the same ones who robbed a man in the parking lot of the same complex
    the previous day, although no firearms were seen during that incident, Robinson said.

    March 14, 2011 — Vallejo Times Herald (

    'Social loafers' fail to take action during mugging
    By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen/Times-Herald staff writer

    A leisurely walk on a nice Vallejo
    day suddenly went mad for two young women when they found themselves chasing a robber
    down a busy street, yelling for help to no avail.

    Residents Leah Mullen and Casey Lozano said that after a green-hoodied mugger wrested
    Lozano's purse from her, he took off running and they sprinted after him.

    "We were yelling, 'he grabbed my purse!, Please stop him!, Stop him, please! Please!,
    "Mullen said. "We passed at least a handful of people who could have done something
    but didn't -- grown men who were fully capable of running after and stopping someone.
    "But they just stood there and looked at us like we were stupid. I don't know."

    She didn't know it but Mullen had not only encountered a thief, but also what is known as
    "social loafers."

    "It's when we say to ourselves that if we don't do it, someone else will," explained
    Vacaville-based consulting psychologist Bruce D. Sanders. "It might also be a fear of getting
    involved because of personal risk or a fear of getting involved with the police or the criminal
    justice system."

    Social loafing is common, and the fear of involvement is becoming more so,
    especially in big cities, Sanders said.

    The Vallejo incident calls to mind the similar though infinitely more terrifying story of Kitty
    Genovese, who in March 1964, was, according to some accounts, repeatedly attacked on
    the streets of Queens, NY for more than half an hour as "38 respectable, law-abiding
    citizens watched, "from their apartment windows. Those accounts say no one called police
    until after Genovese was dead.

    Though social loafing may be maddening for victims, physical intervention is not always the
    wisest move for bystanders, Vallejo Police Department spokesman Jeff Bassett said. But
    they can help, anyway, he said.

    "The safest and best thing for people to do, without getting involved, is get a good look,
    get a good description and be able to provide it to police," Bassett said. "And call us in a
    timely manner, with a vehicle description and direction of travel, that's what helps us
    apprehend them after a crime happens."

    The recent incident began when the two friends started a stroll from downtown to Springs
    Road, Mullen said.

    "We decided to take a walk on a nice day at 3 or 4 in the afternoon," Mullen said.
    "We thought it was a safe route, down Tennessee Street, and tons of people were out
    because it was a nice day."

    Mullen said she noticed a guy behind them, even mentioning it to Lozano, but didn't feel
    threatened. The police report described the suspect as about 24, 5 foot 7 inches, 130
    pounds "with a dark complexion, small twisty hair, wearing a bright green jacket with
    multiple patterns ... and dark colored jeans."

    "Before you knew it he came up behind her and grabbed the purse, and they played
    pickle for it for a while, and then he let out a growl and she let go, and he took off and we
    took off after him," Mullen said.

    Lozano said a couple of motorists tried briefly to follow the man, but gave up. And one man,
    who was putting a baby in a car seat, momentarily took off after him, but couldn't leave his child.

    Most shocking, Lozano said, was a man who saw the crime in progress from only a few feet
    away and ignored it."One guy, who looked like he was in his mid-30s, with his son who
    looked about 12, saw it happen, and as I was wrestling for my purse, I looked in his eyes,
    pleading for help and he just walked away," she said. "And before I could think, we were

    Benicia-based psychologist Micah Altman agreed with Sanders that the fear of getting hurt
    is one likely reason some people don't intervene."But also, there are some people who put
    themselves in harm's way to help," she said. "Like everybody, it's an individual response."
    In any case, something victims can do to spur onlookers to help is to call out specific instructions,
    Sanders said.

    "Like, yell out, 'call 911!' or 'call the police!'" Sanders said.

    Mullen and Lozano said they've never before been victims of this type of crime.
    "To me, after it was over, I didn't care about my stuff getting stolen but I was shocked that
    hardly anyone tried to help us."

    The mugger ran down Tennessee Street, turned right near the old Goodwill Store and
    disappeared, Mullen said. He eventually outran the women in a neighborhood near Alabama
    and El Dorado streets, according to the police report.

    "He jumped a fence, and I can't do that," Mullen said.

    Mullen said she called 911 while in pursuit and that police responded "surprisingly fast."

    "They drove us around a little bit, looking for the guy," she said. "They definitely were doing
    everything they could to find this guy."

    Later, the women had time to consider the lack of help in their time of crisis.

    "I can't really judge them, maybe they were afraid," Mullen said. "But I definitely hope I would
    help first and ask questions later if I ever find myself in such a situation."

    Lozano said she came away with similar feelings.

    "I got a big slap in the face out of this," she said. "Nothing like this has ever happened to
    me before and never will I be one of those people who sits around twiddling their thumbs
    while someone in trouble is pleading for help."

    Vallejo public, police team to reduce prostitution

    Six months ago, Vallejo was drawing hordes of hookers from all over the West.
    The then-bankrupt city's threadbare police patrols were overwhelmed, and
    citizens were furious at the yowling of pimps and streetwalkers hawking their
    wares 24/7 in once-quiet neighborhoods.

    That was then.

    Now the world's oldest profession is going broke.

    Vallejo police and residents have squelched the streetwalker problem so
    effectively, relying heavily on security cameras and neighborhood watch groups,
    that most hookers have either fled town or turned to other work.

    On any given day in the center of the city - where once more than a dozen
    streetwalkers would stroll among the Victorian houses, parks and small
    businesses - now there are maybe two. Or none.

    Read more:

    Politics and a Police Officer’s Death
    Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 3:01AM by David Corbett

    For part of today, I will be away from my desk, attending the memorial service for Officer Jim Capoot (pronounced
    Ka Poo), who was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, November 17th, in my hometown, Vallejo, California. As
    council member Stephanie Gomes said in her comments at an earlier memorial conducted on November 20th,
    Officer Capoot wasn't a hero just because of how he died, but even more because of how he lived.