How police chose Kentfield for the first “Blitz”


Gateway Court, one of the areas in the Kentfield neighborhood targeted for the city's first Neighborhood Blitz.

Oakland attorney Yolanda Huang sees the Kentfield Blitz this way:

“These wrongful actions are part of an intentionally nasty, punitive and wholly unjustified tactic of the Stockton Police and part of the Police strategy to target low income people, racially profile, and deny low income people, and people of color their Constitutional rights, under the guise of housing code inspections.”

Was the city’s attempt to clean up Kentfield “wholly unjustified?” Depends. Huang contends a code enforcement operation does not justify police intrusion (search and seizure, etc.) into people’s homes.

“You cannot do prophylactic (preventive) pre-engagement,” Huang said in our interview. “I think because you’re black and you’re poor you’re going to be a crime problem. You’re going to do a robbery, you’re going to do a burglary. I’m going to bust you ahead of time.”

But from the point of view of data-driven policing, the blitz was not only justified but a public safety priority.

Officer Joseph Silva of the Stockton Police Department explained the thinking behind the selection of Kentfield.

“Location selection for the initial Blitz enforcement was based on the below 3-prong analysis,” Silva wrote.

“1) Crime Analysis Section conducted a citywide analysis of the Reporting Districts in the city having the highest number of code enforcement violations, police calls for service, and FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics.  The resulting overlay maps were used to determine the top areas that should be considered for further assessment.

“2)  The areas depicted via the Crime Analysis maps were used by a subjective analysis team of PD personnel to complete a Visual Blight Survey of these areas.

“3)  Each area was then assessed by determining the potential for sustaining improvement based on the presence of Neighborhood Watch groups, Neighborhood Betterment Committees, or active Faith Based Organizations.

“Based on the above factors, the Kentfield area rated the highest need for initial attention.”

This is all somewhat academic. The city radically changed its approach after the Kentfield blowback. Officials friendlied up blitzes, inviting residents to free, get-to-know-ya barbecues, soliciting their input and being careful about rights. Whether that would have happened without Huang’s lawsuit I cannot say.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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