An understaffed Modesto Police Department has some residents galvanizing on their own. Some neighborhoods are hiring private security to combat crime.
It's a quiet Friday afternoon in Modesto's Eastridge neighborhood. Just the way resident Nancy Rasmussen likes it.
Rasmussen has lived in the city for decades and after witnessing crime-after-crime, "We had several break-ins in our neighborhood, several streets over. We’ve had doors kicked in when people are home," Rasmussen said.
She and other neighbors decided to take matters into their own hands, "They patrol our area, they’re here throughout the day in a 24-hour period. They’re also here on the spot when you make a phone call. "
They've formed a neighborhood watch and hired private patrol which she said has helped combat crime.
"We were having a rise in just small stuff initially; loitering teens," Trish Christensen, of Modesto explained.
Trish Christensen noticed the same kind of problems in her neighborhood, "and then as different types of groups would hang out, families stopped coming out and we didn’t want that to happen," Christensen told FOX40.
These women say hiring private companies like Rank Investigations and Ontel Security have greatly changed their neighborhoods, "We say that our goal is to take the problem and push it down the road; to make it somebody else’s problem," David McCann, Chief of Security with Ontel Security Services said.
The Modesto Police Department tells FOX40 that these private patrols have helped add an extra layer of protection, especially when police staffing levels have been low for years, "They can’t do it all on their own anymore. They’re not staffed for that, they don’t have the money for that," Christensen said.
The owner of Rank Investigations told us that they’re not there to replace law enforcement, rather they’re there to deter crime.
While these companies have helped change the landscape of some parts of Modesto, residents recognize they can't be there all the time
"But we still have things we have going on in the neighborhood. I think at this time our neighborhood is more aware and so we watch out for each other," Rasmussen said.
The Modesto Police Department said they work with for hire security and added that they've been working to increase staffing levels.