Interview with a California Police Sergeant About Crime and Public Safety

Posted: June 8, 2010 in "Compulsion", "Dead Game", Author and Criminologist Jennifer Chase, Crime Prevention, Emily Stone, K9's, Public Safety, robbery, Sgt Mark Keys, violent crimes

My novel “Compulsion” and “Dead Game” has raised some interesting questions about crime and public safety. The heroine, Emily Stone, tracks down pedophiles and serial killers, and then anonymously emails investigative information to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

It’s important to be aware of the types of crimes that are occurring in your own neighborhood and learn how to keep yourself and family safe. It’s also important to talk to your children about the potential risks and raise their awareness. Through education and awareness, we can address these crime issues to help assist law enforcement and to begin to reduce these crime risks and occurrences.

I have to admit that I had little, if any, interaction with law enforcement until I had a violent neighbor that continually threatened my life and then later conducted research for my novel. It definitely opened my eyes and perception of law enforcement and what police officers do every day.

I have a great guest that has stopped by to chat with me about crime and public safety here in California. I want to welcome Sergeant Mark Keyes from the Daly City Police Department.

Jennifer Chase: Sergeant Keyes, welcome and please tell us a little bit about yourself. How long have you been a police officer? What different areas have you worked within the police department?

Sgt. Mark Keyes: I’ve been a police officer with Daly City for the last 26 years. During that time I have worked as a K9 handler, SWAT team member and sniper, detective, and Senior Detective assigned to Robbery Homicide. Currently, I am a Patrol Division Sergeant, but I have been a Sergeant since 2001. As a Sergeant I have worked on Patrol, assigned to County Narcotics Task Force as a Special Agent Supervisor and Training Sergeant.

Jennifer Chase: What’s the most difficult part of your job? Has it changed over the years?

Sgt. Mark Keyes: The most difficult part of the job has to be the personnel issues in dealing with all of the different personalities in the department at one time is a chore, but we manage to get the job done regardless of what is going on in the officer’s lives.

My group is extremely talented and energetic. The job of police officer is a constantly evolving one. There is no one particular part of the job that is difficult as it is constantly changing. Probably the most challenging part of the job is the domestic violence situations. We are called to the scene of a situation that has been brewing over a long period of time and we are expected to resolve the issues in a relatively short period of time. It can be challenging and frustrating at the same time.

Jennifer Chase: What types of crimes do you see increasing in the community today?

Sgt. Mark Keyes: I see identity theft type of crimes growing as the economy sours. Also, property types of crimes such as burglary and auto theft are increasing.

Jennifer Chase: What are some of the concerns that you hear from residents regarding crime and public safety?

Sgt. Mark Keyes: People in general want to live in a community that is safe and free of those that would do them or their families harm, either to them personally or to their property. Gangs are an ever-increasing and ongoing problem, although my city has seen a decrease in this type of activity for the most part.

Jennifer Chase: Are there some general tips on public safety specifically for women in the home, workplace, and public locations?

Sgt. Mark Keyes: You should always be aware of your surroundings. People tend to get too wrapped up in their immediate actions and aren’t paying attention to those people that may be waiting to do them harm or steal their property. I’ve found that if you maintain a positive way of carrying yourself, head up looking around, eye contact with those you are suspicious of, and in general are confident, then you make yourself that much less of a target. At home make sure your doors and windows are locked at those times when you aren’t home or able to pay attention to things at the house (e.g. when you are sleeping). In the workplace, be aware of your surroundings and don’t be afraid to report co-workers who bother you and disrupt your ability to do what you’ve been hired to do.

Jennifer Chase: If a citizen witnesses a crime such as theft, burglary, or domestic violence, what are some of the things we can do after calling 911 to help to assist the police?

Sgt. Mark Keyes: It’s important to be a good witness, observe and report what you see to law enforcement. Don’t try to be a hero and do something that will get you hurt.

Jennifer Chase: For more violent crimes such as road rage, armed robbery, and shootings, what are some safety tips to remember? Once the incident is over, what are some important things to do to help the police in their investigation?

Sgt. Mark Keyes: Get as much information as you can about the violator and report your information to the local police. Again, don’t be a hero. Police officers are trained to handle these types of situations and you are not. We have many tools at our disposal to help us arrest the suspect and protect life and property. Most of the average citizens don’t have the training or know-how to deal with violent encounters, and those that do then become part of the problem. REPORT REPORT REPORT… I can’t stress that enough. If it is a violent encounter with a firearm then you need to get to a safe place and not get involved. Let the police deal with it and then when asked, if you saw anything, report what you saw to the investigating officers.

Jennifer Chase: And finally, I want to lighten the mood a bit. What is the funniest or most memorable call you were dispatched to in your career?

Sgt. Mark Keyes: One of the most memorable situations occurred when I was working K9. I had attempted to stop a subject wanted for a felony warrant. The subject took off running and I sent my police service dog after him. After the dog got him and as I was trying to handcuff him, the suspect punched me in the shoulder and took off running again. I sent my dog after him again and the dog grabbed him by the back of his jeans near his butt, as the subject kept running his pants were pulled down to his ankles by my dog. The suspect wasn’t wearing any underwear and it reminded me of the Coppertone girl in the ads, except this was a felony suspect who assaulted me and he was trying to get away from my dog with his pants down around his ankles with his butt showing. He didn’t get very far!

Jennifer Chase: You gotta love those K9 partners!! Thank you Sergeant Keyes for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to me about crime and public safety. I appreciate your candid answers and you’ve provided us with some great information.

It is important to remember that you need to report everything that you’ve witnessed about a crime to the police investigators. It is also important to get involved, but first and foremost, keep yourself safe and let law enforcement handle the dangerous situations. I know that I speak for many citizens, we truly appreciate the hard work from all of the men and women of law enforcement and their perseverance to help keep our communities and families safe.

If you have any crime concerns, talk to a local police officer or community services officer. I would suggest to anyone that is interested in becoming more involved in crime prevention and safety is to visit your local city police department or county sheriff’s department for more information. You can also access more information and contact numbers online at police department websites.

Jennifer Chase
Author &and Criminologist

Twitter: Thillernovel
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