Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012-01-01 "Vallejo hits its second highest homicide rate in past 25 years" by Irma Widjojo from "Vallejo Times-Herald"
Vallejo's 18 homicides in 2011 were the second most in a quarter century, according to FBI data, and exceeded last year's by one.
The fatal stabbing of 22-year-old Vallejo resident Ceasar Villalobos on Dec. 23 capped last year's death toll at 18.
According to FBI data collected since 1985, the city had the highest number of homicides in 1994 at 30, and the lowest in 1997 with three.
The 2011 Vallejo homicide total, however, does not include a May 10 double-slaying in the unincorporated area of Vallejo. Solano County sheriff's deputies found both shooting victims separately in the 20 block of Reis Avenue.
The shooting death of Vallejo police Officer Jim Capoot on Nov. 17 was the year's most notable homicide. Capoot, 45, was killed during a foot pursuit of a bank robbery suspect. He was the fourth officer who has died in the line of duty in the Vallejo Police Department's history.

Fire deaths, accidents -
Four people also died in three separate fires last year. The victims included a couple in their 80s, a 39-year-old paraplegic man and a 59-year-old man.
A three-alarm fire in April also engulfed the vacant and fire-prone former Bill Lang Cadillac building, known to be a shelter for many homeless people. Although no one was injured, the fire displaced about 50 people, and the building was eventually demolished after it was deemed unsafe.
Another tragic accident in November also took the life of a 12-year-old boy, Joseph "Joey" Tafoya III, and seriously injured his 8-year-old friend, Kaleo Young. The two Vallejo boys were both sitting on a single skateboard heading downhill on Chapman Court when they wound up under a Recology Vallejo truck.

Some relief, changes -
Vallejo public enforcement agencies experienced some upswing last year with the return of a couple of special units and additional hires at the police and fire departments.
Through the federal SAFER grant, the Vallejo Fire Department was able to add three more firefighters, bringing the total number of city firefighters to 68.
Former interim Fire Chief Doug Robertson retired in May. He was replaced by Paige Meyer, who was named permanent chief in November.
The police department's SWAT team, suspended last year due to lack of funding, returned in April as a regional team with Benicia and Suisun City police departments to form the Southern Solano County Regional SWAT team. The new team has 13 Vallejo officers, six Benicia officers and two from Suisun City.
The department also returned to operating with two K-9 dogs in 2011.
At the beginning of the year, the Vallejo Police Department's Crime Suppression Unit, which focuses on street-level crimes, was combined with the Investigations Unit to form the Major Case Section because of restructuring and lack of manpower.
Through private and federal grants in 2011, the department increased its ranks, before Capoot's death, from 90 to 93 officers. The increase also enabled the Crime Suppression Unit to once again become a separate entity in October.

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