Boosted by a state grant, the Palo Alto Police Department is preparing to add more undercover officers to Stanford Shopping Center and other central shopping areas. The department is also preparing to deploy GPS technology that tracks suspect vehicles if they flee the scene.
The department announced Thursday, Sept. 14, that it is set to receive $5.2 million from the Board of State and Community Corrections, which distributed $267 million in grant funds to 38 law enforcement agencies and 13 district attorney offices this week. By far the largest component of the package is a $242 million program called the Organized Retail Theft Prevention Grant, which focuses on data sharing, surveillance and license plate trackers, according to a news release from the state board.
When announcing the grant program earlier this week, Gov. Gavin Newsom said it will target smash-and-grabs and retail thefts.
"Enough with these brazen smash-and-grabs," Newsom said in a statement. "With an unprecedented $267 million investment, Californians will soon see more takedowns, more police, more arrests, and more felony prosecutions. When shameless criminals walk out of stores with stolen goods, they'll walk straight into jail cells."
Palo Alto plans to spend its share of $5.2 million to staff extra patrols, including undercover operations, in prime shopping areas like Stanford Shopping Center and downtown Palo Alto for the next three years, the city said in a news release. The department also plans to install new technology on patrol cars that will allow officers to remotely affix GPS tags to vehicles so that they can be monitored if the driver chooses to flee, according to the city.
The City Council would have to authorize the acceptance of state funds and the purchase of the patrol car technology before it is implemented, according to the department's news release. The department plans to request the authorization to buy and install the GPS technology in the coming weeks, the police said.
Police Chief Andrew Binder said the department received support for the grant application from the Stanford Shopping Center, the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce and District Attorney Jeff Rosen.
"We are grateful for the state's generous support, and we look forward to using the funds to enhance community safety here in Palo Alto," Binder said.