When Captain Derek Rush began working for the Santa Clara Police Department (SCPD) as a beat cop in 1997, his beat included the Northside.
More than 20 years later, Rush is in charge of that neighborhood in a different way. He now oversees special operations for Levi’s Stadium.
“I understand there have been a lot of changes up on the Northside,” he said. “We can’t limit all the impact … there are going to be some things that happen.”
However, with help from the public, local government and technology, Rush said the SCPD can “fine tune” enforcement around the stadium to mitigate the problems caused by the sort of large-scale events the stadium hosts.
Rush detailed some changes on the horizon for the upcoming event calendar at Levi’s Stadium at a community meeting at Don Callejon, 4176 Lick Mill Blvd. on June 6.
SCPD used data — including focus groups, community meetings and interviews — from the Lew Edwards Group to get quantitative and qualitative measures of the issues at Levi’s Stadium. That data showed that traffic was the top concern by a wide margin with 69 percent of those polled Citywide saying it was an issue and 78 percent of those living near the stadium saying the same.
Parking and crimes such as public intoxication, loitering and littering rounded the list of neighbors’ top concerns. Public comments from the roughly 20 residents in attendance during the forum echoed the analytics.
Council Member Kathy Watanabe, who represents the Northside district, was in attendance.
“It is a good opportunity to hear what is working and what is not working,” she said of the forum.
With the increase in ridesharing, Rush said officers have established a designated pickup and dropoff zone and aim to better enforce ticketing such drivers.
The use of heat maps, air support for traffic management and officer GPS devices will give police more of a presence and better response times, Rush said. Although officer GPS is still in testing, he expects it to be ready by midseason.
“We are using a lot of technology,” Rush said. “We really want to capitalize on that to make some changes.”
Other changes in how officers are dispatched will also strive to curb many issues, he said. Both roving and static posts and floaters to relieve officers for meal breaks will ensure an area is never without a police presence.
The International Champions Cup soccer game July 20, The Rolling Stones concert Aug. 18 and the Pac-12 championship football game prove to be the events that will impact the neighborhoods surrounding the stadium the most this season, Rush said.
Parking enforcement is particularly tricky, he added.
“It is not against the law to drive into someone’s neighborhood and park there,” he said.
Unless the City requires permit parking — which would need 60 percent approval from the residents, Council’s go-ahead and a traffic study — police cannot prevent stadium attendees from parking on the streets. Police Chief Mike Sellers said he supported permitted parking but also added that doing so would require a lot of logistics.
“It will be very difficult,” he said. “There needs to be robust discussion around this.”
Also new this season is that those calling the police non-emergency numbers will no longer have to navigate a series of menus before speaking to a person. The stadium command post dispatcher will take calls during events.
For non-emergency calls unrelated to the stadium, call 408-615-5580; for non-emergency calls related to the stadium, call 408-615-2280.