The owner of West Valley Mall will no longer give the Tracy Police Department money for an extra officer at the mall.
Mall general manager Gary Fields said that the shopping center’s relationship with Tracy police will continue, but it does indicate a shift from two years ago, when the growth of the shopping center caused the number of calls to police from the mall to double between 2001 and 2004. Thefts, loitering, car break-ins and unruly visitors who intimidated customers were common complaints.
The mall offered the city $105,364 in late 2004 with the understanding that a Tracy police officer would patrol the mall as a regular beat. Fields confirmed that the mall owner, General Growth Properties, made a similar donation the following year. But it has not renewed the donation for 2007 and doesn’t expect that Tracy police will continue to have an officer at the mall full time.
When the Tracy City Council first accepted the donation, police described it as a donation in support of public safety, with General Growth’s hope that one officer could be assigned to the mall.
“The problems that were going on out there, we’ve been able to quell those issues,” said Tracy police Lt. David Sant, who said he and Fields met over the past several months to reconsider the interaction between the police and the mall.
“We still maintain an office there and still send officers there for special assignments,” Sant said. He added that during the holiday shopping season, for example, police patrolled the mall, as did the mall’s own private security guards.
Fields said the mall still has an office available rent-free for the use of all public safety agencies and that it also gives these agencies access to the mall’s communications tower and other properties as needed.
“We’ve still been assured we’ll still have coverage out here,” Fields said. “We’re just pursuing different options with the city.”
To reach reporter Bob Brownne, call 830-4227 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.