Stockton in Crisis, Searching for Solutions
STOCKTON, CA - An overflow crowd of more than 400 people attended the News10 town hall meeting Thursday night to discuss solutions to the problems plaguing the city of Stockton.
PHOTOS: Behind the scenes: News10 sets up for Stockton town hall
Stockton residents joined the meeting at the University of the Pacific's Long Theater to question and listen to the six-member panel made up of city council members, law enforcement and community leaders.
RELATED STORY: 'Stockton in Crisis: Searching for Solutions' town hall
Questions from the audience and comments from online viewers led the discussion topics. News10 anchors and reporters asked follow-up questions and kept panelists on point with their answers.
Audience questions focused on crime, safety and resources.
Veteran Stockton News10 reporter Tim Daly asked Stockton Assistant Police Chief Rick Salcedo if providing more information on unsolved crimes might help. Salcedo agreed it was a good idea.
"I do think that we need to take a hard look every time we have an incident, to release as much as we can ... and I think the more we are able to do that and get information out to the community, then it will start building some bridges where you're gonna feel like, I can give some information because it's a two-way street," Salcedo said.
One audience member said it is more than responding to crime, but trying to get at its roots in the community.
"It's not just response: It's prevention. We have to ask ourselves, why are these guns on our streets? These are our children. These aren't strangers who are shooting and robbing and killing us. These are our children and all our children deserve a chance, not just the children north of Harding or west of West Lane," the woman said to applause from the audience.
Others urged the city to include more ordinary citizens on advisory boards.
Another woman put it simply: "Bottom line: jobs," she said, urging city leaders to help provide economic incentives as an alternative to gang membership.
Salcedo asked Stockton residents to take civic responsibility to a one-on-one level.
"Whether you're part of a church or part of a community organization, look at an opportunity to mentor one person or to minister to one person. And that's where change is going to happen, Salcedo said.
Daly brought up the issue of the city's permit center, long a frustrating symbol to some of city bureaucracy standing in the way of economic progress.
"I've been hearing complaints about the permit center making it impossible to do business," Daly said, noting the issue has persisted over many years.
"We are fixing it. We have a plan," said Mayor Ann Johnston, added to applause. "We've got a city manager and staff who are dedicated, because we said, 'fix it.'"
As citizens streamed out at the end, many agreed the meeting was constructive because it helped residents realize there are many resources.
"Just finding out there are all those resources that are there for people that need them the most," said Stockton resident Charlotte Martin.
Stockton resident David Williams said the town hall encouraged him.
"Stockton's a great community," he said. "It's gonna take a little bit of time, but we're gonna bring it back."
MORE: Resources for Stockton residents