New Exeter task force to fight crime by studying

Exeter task force studies crime data in Tulare County

At the Jan. 24 city council meeting, councilwoman Vicki Riddle presents a new ad hoc committee with the help of city attorney Julia Lew and city manager Adam Ennis

EXETER – A new ad hoc committee task force is set to operate in Exeter, and their main goal is to help mitigate crime through studying data and local crime trends.

The new task force’s purpose is to do a “deep dive” into studying crime within the county, and more specifically, the public safety of Exeter. The task force was created by council member Vicki Riddle, and will be composed of two council members that will operate as the task force board. It will also be open to the community in the case they would like to participate. This is no ordinary committee, though, as it will take a different legal structure than most, according to city attorney Julia Lew.

“We all recognize that public safety is a complex issue, and it has budgetary constraints,” Riddle said. “Essentially, we would take an eight month study, and I know that sometimes schedules change, but we would do an in depth data driven study.”

Riddle laid out an eight month timeline for the task force. They would start out defining what their tasks are as a committee, and then would begin collecting data from Exeter and their comparable cities, such as Woodlake, Farmersville and Lindsay. City manager Adam Ennis said that the direction of the task force will come as they begin their studies. 

From the data and information they collect, they will begin to try and make sense of crime that occurs within Exeter. Lastly, they will come up with recommendations on how to mitigate crime to either the city council, city staff or the department, depending on what they find. Ennis said that the crime data they gather will be from various sources, including local departments and even the District Attorney’s office.

“It’s a pretty wide open potential scope of what [the committee] is going to look at and start coming up with, that also leaves it fairly wide open of what may get done based on what’s been found,” Ennis said.

Moving forward, the city council will consider who they would like to sit on the committee and which direction they’d like it to go. Then the council will come back in a later meeting with formal appointments for those who will sit on the committee’s board. At their Jan. 10 meeting, the council was in favor of the committee idea, especially allowing the community to be involved. 

The committee cannot have an official governing board, since it is not a traditional Brown Act committee. The Brown Act is a part of California’s law surrounding the public’s rights regarding meetings of local legislative bodies. Lew said that legally, there could only be two council members in the committee since it is related to ad hoc. However, she also said that for every council member that does not sit on that ad hoc committee can appoint a “committee advisor” to sit on the committee, which could be anyone from Exeter.

The public can also participate in the committee’s meetings but would not technically be members of it. The community will be invited to participate in the committee at the discretion of its governing board. Ennis said that this would allow the committee to have many community members involved, rather than being a majority of council members or elected officials, like other formal committees are. The council was also interested in forming the ad hoc committee in this fashion because it would relieve some responsibilities of city staff, such as having to agendacize their meetings. 

“It’s another [type of committee structure] that cities can use, but without having to do all that necessarily all the formalities,” Ennis said.

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