VALLEJO – Vallejo police have created four new service areas, assigning a member of the department’s command staff to oversee the specific area in an effort to strengthen its relationship with the community, the Vallejo Sun has learned.
Under the new initiative, the city is divided into north, south, west, and east quadrants, with a police lieutenant responsible for focusing “on problem-solving in their assigned areas and working with community members to address quality-of-life concerns and other issues” in their particular area of the city.
Lt. Bob Knight is assigned to East Vallejo, which includes all of the city north of Interstate 780 and East of Interstate 80. Everything on the other side of I-80 and north of Redwood Street is considered North Vallejo and will be overseen by Lt. Steve Darden.
The area below I-780 and Curtola Parkway is South Vallejo and will be overseen by Lt. Jerome Bautista, while the west side of the city, including Mare Island, is under the responsibility of Lt. Sanjay Ramrakha.
Vallejo Police Department spokesperson Brittany K. Jackson didn't directly respond to questions from the Vallejo Sun on Friday. Jackson said the department was "currently working on the communications rollout of our new service area program, where additional information will be provided at the top of the week."
Jackson did say that "each lieutenant will represent two beats in their respective quadrant to respond to community concerns."
The department’s push to repair its relationship with the community comes after several current and former officers were required to testify about badge bending, a ritual in which officers either bent their own badges or had them bent by another member of the department following a shooting.
Kent Tribble testified that he bent Ramrakha‘s badge. Ramrakha previously served as an internal affairs investigator and is currently leading the department’s efforts to reform its use of force policy.
Darden was also accused of having his badge bent when news of the ritual became public in July 2020. Darden denied the accusations.
Since his time with Vallejo police, Darden has been involved in several high-profile incidents which have been settled by the city of Vallejo.
Vallejo agreed to pay $750,000 to settle an excessive force lawsuit that alleged four Vallejo police officers, including then-Sgt. Darden, assaulted a man as he worked on a fence outside his Tennessee Street workshop in July 2017
Carl Edwards sued the city of Vallejo in September 2018, naming officers Spencer Muniz-Bottomley, Mark Thompson, Bretton Wagoner, and Darden for giving him a black eye, a broken nose, cuts to his back, hands, face, head and arms, which required stitches over his right elbow. The incident began after Muniz-Bottomley tackled Edwards while searching for a person who allegedly used a slingshot to shoot items at kids in the neighborhood.
The Vallejo Sun confirmed in February that the city tentatively agreed to settle a federal lawsuit alleging several police officers entered a home without a warrant and assaulted a tenant in his room in 2018.
Rodolfo Lopez filed a lawsuit in August 2020, alleging he suffered a mild traumatic brain injury, a concussion, post traumatic stress disorder, and needed staples to close a wound on his head after being punched and hit with a baton by police officers Travis Aspegren, Yanett Hernandez and then-Sgt. Darden.