Neighbors worry, but police say crime level is no worse than in other Santa Rosa neighborhoods

  • Alissa Walker lives in an apartment complex along Aston Avenue in the area where a man broke into a home and molested a 12-year-old girl earlier this week.

When a man this week broke into a 12-year-old girl?s bedroom on Santa Rosa?s Aston Avenue and began molesting her, it was not a total shock to many of the girl?s neighbors.

They say theirs is a neighborhood accustomed to trouble, one that is still mourning the April shooting death of a high school student and still frightened after a family dispute in January left one man dead and another injured.

Crime touches all of Santa Rosa?s neighborhoods. But residents in South Park say those serious crimes are only a part of a story that includes drug deals, gang fights and a general feeling of unease, particularly at night.

?You don?t want to be raising your kids here,? said John Kelsey, an Aston Avenue parent who wants to move his young family of six to Sebastopol.

Is that perception the reality?

?There are no statistics to back it up as more dangerous? than other neighborhoods, Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Lisa Banayat said. ?They are no more or less safe than any other neighborhood. Criminals can travel.?

Emergency calls from the South Park beat ? a 30-block area east of Highway 101 and south of the Sonoma County Fairgrounds ? occur with nearly the same frequency as calls from other beats.

Of the 5,449 emergency calls throughout Santa Rosa the Police Department recorded between January and June, 2.3percent came from South Park.

That?s an average of eight calls a day and less than one police report or arrest every day.

?It?s a neighborhood that doesn?t receive any different calls than any other neighborhood,? said Sgt. Clay Van Artsdalen, who oversees the beat.

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