Natomas policing needs growing with population

Three suspects are wanted in connection to a Natomas store robbery caught on surveillance video, according to the Sacramento Police Department.

Friday's armed robbery was just the latest reminder that Natomas is not without its violent crimes.

At approximately 9 p.m., Yusaf Imtiaz had less than an hour left before closing up shop for the night, at Tobacco Plus off Club Center Drive.

Suddenly, three people dressed in dark clothing and masks entered the convenience store. One man held a gun, pointed at Imtiaz. The other two men tied up Imtiaz, and the three ran from the store with cash and goods. Altogether, the commission of the crime took less than two-and-a-half minutes. As of Tuesday afternoon, none of the three suspects had been caught.

Imtiaz, who was working Tuesday evening, told ABC10 News he's doing alright after the robbery but that he'd like to see more presence from the Sacramento Police Department in Natomas.

That was the second armed robbery in less than two months at that particular shopping center.

Willie J's Burgers & More shares a wall with Tobacco Plus. In June, a man with a gun robbed the restaurant.

As the Natomas area grows, some people are raising concerns about public safety.

Basim Elkarra is one of them.

"Of course, just like any other community, everyone wants more patrols, more police that are visible in the community," he told ABC10. "For Natomas, we have a challenge because the police receive the lowest number of calls of service, and so that's how they decide to deploy their resources."

Elkarra lives in Natomas. He also chairs the brand new Sacramento Community Police Review Commission, which is just starting to exploring this and other topics.

"The population is going to grow in Natomas, and of course with that we'll need more police services," he said.

You may recall, Natomas wasn't allowed to build anything for more than six years due to serious flooding concerns. Two years ago, however, that freeze was lifted, and developers wasted no time making up for that moratorium.

The empty field between the northwest corner of Natomas and the Sacramento International Airport has big things in store for it, to the tune of some 3,000 new homes in coming years.

Sacramento Police spokesperson Eddie Macaulay said his department uses input like crime stats and the number of calls for service to determine staffing levels in different communities.

"It also happens every day, three times a day, so every shift - based on what happened the prior shift, what happened the day before, what happened the week before," he explained. "It's constantly reevaluated and officers are deployed where they're needed."

Elkarra said some homeowner associations in Natomas have private security, but neighborhoods like his - Regency Park - don't, and rely on police.

"On the Nextdoor app, people hear about the break-ins or 'car stolen,' and so, of course, any community when they hear those things, they want more police patrols," he said.

Sac PD has finite resources, Macaulay said, "but those resources are deployed what can most benefit the community as a whole, the city as a whole."

Gabi Garcia lives and works near Tobacco Plus and Willie J's Burgers & More and is a frequent customer at both stores.

"I was kind of shaken up when they hit this," she said, gesturing to Tobacco Plus, "just because, you know, this is supposed to be a good neighborhood and everybody here is nice."

As Natomas continues to grow, folks there hope the number of officers patrolling the city will grow, too.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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