Letter to the Editor: Per Elk Grove Police Chief Noblett - No’Significant Uptick in Crime’ at Other Indian Casinos
As Wilton Rancheria’s resort and casino project continues to make progress, elkgrovenews.net’s apparent determination to publish specious claims and biased opinion under the guise of “news” becomes more desperate. The latest distortion represents a new low in scare tactics. To be clear, the project will not be a magnet for prostitution or human trafficking. And, it’s time to put to rest the false claim that the community had no voice in the project.
We condemn human trafficking and all types of human atrocities. We will implement every measure possible and work with the Elk Grove Police Department to find, prosecute and eradicate such abuse of human life, if it ever occurs. Meanwhile, it’s inaccurate and unfair to compare tribal facilities to Las Vegas, where prostitution is legal and no one seems to bat an eye about it.
Elk Grove Police Chief Bryan Noblett settled the issue of crime when he told a community meeting earlier this year that he had dispatched officers to talk to police departments in communities with tribal gaming facilities: “What we found from our partners at other agencies…is they honestly haven’t seen a significant uptick in crime.” Chief Noblett’s findings were consistent with numerous academic studies, including an independent study presented at Harvard University of 100 communities across the United States with Indian casinos, which found:
Casinos have substantial beneficial economic and social impacts on surrounding communities.
No evidence of harmful impact.
Motor vehicle theft and robberies fell significantly.
Or a recent yearlong study in Massachusetts, which found that “the totality of evidence shows little impact on most crimes” in communities surrounding casinos. It should not be surprising that the Elk Grove Police Officers Association has endorsed the resort and casino project. Under Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with Elk Grove and Sacramento County, Wilton Rancheria will spend $1.5 million per year to support the police department, and millions more for anti-gambling, anti-drug programs and state-of-the-art surveillance and security.
As for the community’s voice, it was, in fact, heard loud and clear and played a significant role in the MOUs reached between the Tribe and the City of Elk Grove and the County of Sacramento, which were approved unanimously by the City Council and County Board of Supervisors. Several hundred residents and community members attended a Town Meeting in July of last year, during which I and other Tribal leaders spent hours exhaustively answering questions. Over the following months, hundreds of people participated in twice-monthly City Council meetings, where supporters and opponents alike were given ample opportunity to make public comments. No one was denied access to the floor and many participants spoke repeatedly over the course of these meetings. Then came hearings before the State Senate and Assembly, at which many of the same community members voiced their opinions. Also joining the steady stream of speakers were lawyers, lobbyists and political operatives paid by certain card rooms and their affiliates, which have spared no expense in trying to block competition that might threaten their lucrative business. These same special interests continue to undertake frivolous litigation that has been rejected by the court and the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Both the State Senate and Assembly voted unanimously to ratify the Tribe’s compact with the State of California. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the compact and the ratifying legislation. This followed letters of support from more than three dozen organizations, including the Elk Grove and Sacramento Black and Asian Pacific Chambers of Commerce; the State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, United Pastors of Sacramento, the State Building and Construction Trades Council, Region Business, the Environmental Council of Sacramento and many more.
The facts are clear: the Wilton Rancheria project will create thousands of jobs, many new business opportunities and upward of $200 million in direct spending on city and county services over just the first 20 years. This is good news for the entire community, which includes the residents of Elk Grove and the greater Sacramento region, as well as the 758 members of the formerly landless Wilton Rancheria Tribe.
Raymond C. Hitchcok
Chairman, Witlon Rancheria
Elk Grove, Californa