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Newport plans to add property crime unit

Four new positions would be funded under proposed budget.

May 16, 2013|By Lauren Williams

As the city of Newport Beach continues to shrink its workforce, one place it hopes to expand is the Police Department.

A crime-suppression unit comprising three officers and one sergeant is proposed under the 2013-14 fiscal year budget.

The new unit would address property crime, which makes up 97% of all Part One crime — those considered more serious — committed in the city, Capt. Dale Johnson said through department spokeswoman Kathy Lowe.

"The entire Newport Beach Police Department is dedicated to reducing property crimes through prevention, education and enforcement," Johnson said. "The crime-suppression unit will be a valuable tool in this effort, providing the NBPD with a flexible team designed to proactively target changing crime trends."

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Police said that since October 2011, when the governor's plan to address prison overcrowding, known as realignment, was enacted, Newport Beach police have arrested 606 people who were on probation or part of an early release program.

"Confronted by realities such as the economy, AB 109 and Proposition 36, law enforcement agencies are faced with more violators being released from custody and less supervision of the violators following release," Johnson said. "Although relatively few released violators actually live in Newport Beach, they routinely come here to commit crimes."

The positions for the new unit would come from the department's existing patrol division, with those vacancies backfilled with new recruits, city and department officials said.

The proposed budget allots $641,000 for the unit, which accounts for salaries, benefits and overhead. Any changes would happen after the beginning of the financial year on July 1, according to city spokeswoman Tara Finnigan.

Police hope the new unit can be out on the streets of Newport within a year after that.

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