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City Manager's Blog

Nov 24

Giving Thanks for the Community Spirit of Modesto

Posted on November 24, 2021 at 1:50 PM by Marc Garcia

The City of Modesto has a lot to be thankful for this year as the holidays approach. I’m reminded of our many accomplishments throughout the last year and the dedicated community and City staff who have made it all possible. 

We’ve been through a lot since the start of the pandemic, but we’ve also grown as a City and as a community. It’s been amazing to see all the ways we’ve come together to support and sustain each other during this unprecedented time. Now that 2022 is just around the corner, we are excited and confident that even better things are ahead.

There are several initiatives in particular that employees and residents alike have collaborated on over the past year to make Modesto a better place:

    Forward Together, launched in June 2020, is an initiative to enhance public safety in Modesto. Members of the community have the opportunity to participate in both listening sessions and workgroup meetings to share feedback on the City’s policing efforts and identify ways to improve police-community relations as well as public safety.

    The CHAT Program, short for Community Health and Assistance Team, is a new response model for 911 emergency calls. The idea for the program was developed by the Modesto Police Department to better meet the needs of those suffering from mental health crises and other non-violent, non-criminal incidents. Today, a team of Outreach Specialists works to support those in the homeless community struggling with such issues and helps connect them to shelter and resources.

    Modesto Forward is a recovery strategy for programs and services impacted by COVID-19. Thanks to $45.89 million in America Rescue Plan Act funds, the City of Modesto has been able to invest in housing and homeless programs, public facilities, support for local businesses, support for mental healthcare needs, and various other initiatives. These measures are intended to boost the economy and improve the quality of life for the residents of Modesto now and for years to come.

    The Camp2Home (C2H) Program was created out of concern for the growing number of homeless in Modesto each year. It’s a path to sustainability for those experiencing homelessness, with a five-pronged approach that provides comprehensive job training and permanent employment to its participants.  Since January of this year, seven C2H members have already secured employment.

    Regionalization of Fire Protection – Earlier this year, the City of Ceres’ fire protection services officially merged with the City of Modesto’s Fire Department to provide a regional approach to fire response. This is a true partnership between the cities of Ceres and Modesto that has already improved public safety and realized fiscal efficiencies. 

    Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority (StanRTA) –  By consolidating City of Modesto and Stanislaus County transit operations, we formed StanRTA, a regional transit agency. The merger provides more coordinated and efficient transit across the entire service area.

    2021 Helen Putnam Award for Excellence – Operation 9-2-99 and the Dry Creek Trails Coalition, in partnership with the city, were recognized by the League of California Cities with an award of excellence. The honor acknowledges the outstanding volunteer efforts and innovations of these invaluable partners. Since 2014, we have transformed the Dry Creek Trail system and the Tuolumne River Regional Park into beautiful, sought-after places to visit. 

These accomplishments are only a handful of examples that show how we can accomplish more by working together. I’m so proud to be a part of a city team of professionals who are actively creating an outstanding workplace, and who continually look for new ways to engage residents to make Modesto a great place to live.

On behalf of the mayor, city council and the executive team, we wish to thank both employees and members of Modesto’s community for your tireless efforts and incredible contributions in 2021. We are optimistic that 2022 will continue to bring new connections to strengthen Modesto. 

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays, Modesto! 

Nov 05

Meet the Community Health and Assistance Team (CHAT)

Posted on November 5, 2021 at 10:11 AM by Marc Garcia

Let’s chat. When you hear that phrase, what comes to mind? Hopefully, it’s a casual conversation with a friend – that is the premise behind the name of Modesto Police Department’s new alternative response program. The Community Health and Assistance Team, or CHAT, reflects a key component of what the outreach workers assigned to the team do; chat with people, understand where they are in their lives, and assist them in overcoming any immediate crises or barriers they are experiencing.

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Oct 22

Modesto Explores Delivery Changes for 9-1-1 Dispatch Services

Posted on October 22, 2021 at 9:20 AM by Marc Garcia

For years, the City has prioritized evaluating and assessing the programs and services provided to our community. We continuously work to find efficiencies that improve existing programs and increase services to taxpayers. As a result, the City has modernized many programs in recent years, such as a revamped city-wide blight abatement program, enhanced construction permitting process, and creative approaches to address homelessness - to name a few.

With increased demand and interest to reform public safety response models, the City is committed to providing police and emergency response services that meet the community's needs now and into the future. As a city, we have prioritized evaluating, modifying, and expanding programs that support our public safety responses and model best practices.

This includes the recent creation of the Forward Together initiative, the regionalization of fire services and the Fire Department's EMS program, additional public health initiatives, the expansion of our Real Time Crime Center, and mental health response programs. Less thought about is the important role public safety communications play in bringing these initiatives together.

Since 1999, the City of Modesto has successfully operated in formal partnership with Stanislaus County to provide 9-1-1 communication services. This partnership has been an effective regional model since its inception. The current dispatch services provided by the dedicated staff at the communication center who have worked diligently alongside our first responders have been a tremendous asset to our community. However, with the changing policing landscape in our community and across the country, alternate response models are necessary, beginning with that initial 9-1-1 call.

Therefore, to explore additional financial, operational, and innovative opportunities within this critical function, the City believes evaluating options beyond our current formal partnership with the County is necessary. On Tuesday, October 12, 2021, Modesto City Council approved a Resolution to notify Stanislaus County regarding the City's intent to end the Joint Powers Authority (JPA) agreement for Emergency Dispatch Services. By giving notice now, the study can begin sooner, giving sufficient time to implement the necessary changes without further delay.

This change will not take effect until January 1, 2024, giving the City of Modesto more than two years to explore enhanced service models while providing the Consolidated Emergency Dispatch Agency Commission proper notice as outlined in the JPA.

While we move through this process, the City is committed to exploring all aspects of public safety communication service delivery, including future partnerships with Stanislaus County and other member agencies. Different solutions will be considered to ensure the community receives the highest service standards without compromising on safety or cost.  Our goal is to implement a more flexible and innovative program using the latest technology and industry best practices that meet the City's unique 9-1-1 response needs well into the future. Further, integrating 9-1-1 dispatch into our Real Time Crime Center could be the first step toward streamlining public safety responses making our community even safer. 

Regardless of the model, the City's primary goal is to ensure a seamless transition of public safety communications that furthers the positive efforts accomplished in the past.  Our intention in making a change is to streamline services and is in no way meant to convey a negative reflection on the current dispatch services or the dedicated staff who continue to work diligently alongside our first responders.  While the partnership may take a new shape, we acknowledge that some form of collaboration will still be necessary.  However, it is time to develop the next chapter of 9-1-1 services to our community.

As we make progress toward finalizing any changes in the City's 9-1-1 services, we will share updates along the way.