Letter to the Editor: Per Elk Grove Police Chief Noblett - No'Significant Uptick in Crime' at Other Indian Casinos

October 11, 2017 |  

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

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Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

There are a few things to keep in mind about Mr. Hitchcock and his comments.

First, as the leader of the Wilton Rancheria, the term Chairman is probably not the best title for the position. According to the Wilton Rancheria's website, "The Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson serve staggered four-year terms and are elected by a majority vote of the eligible voters of Wilton Rancheria."

As such it might be more appropriate to call him Governor Hitchcock. As an elected official, or more accurately a politician, Mr. Hitchcock is not about discussing facts, he is about spinning information to suit his needs. Not much different than the person who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

While Mr. Hitchcock deflects arguments about the effect crime will have on Elk Grove by using Elk Grove Police Bryan Noblett as cover, not once does he address the point of the original argument - human trafficking. Mr. Hitchcock saying they are against human trafficking is like saying you are against murder.

On a side note, I wonder who pinched Chief Noblett who seems to be professional law enforcement official. I cannot ever recall a police chief who did not leverage some high-profile development such as a casino to squeeze more money, even more, that provided by the MOU, for their department. Chief Noblett seems to be minimizing the crime effects which is most unusual for a law enforcement official.

It should also be noted that while prostitution is permitted in parts of Nevada, it is not a legal activity in Clarke County and Washoe County where Las Vegas and Reno, the primary gaming centers in Nevada, respectively are located. Is Mr. Hitchcock suggesting that prostitution activities do not happen in Las Vegas or Reno casinos?

It would be nice if Mr. Hitchcock addressed the problem in real terms, laid out some of the plans the Wilton Rancheria will implement to combat human trafficking, and more importantly getting the message out now it will not be tolerated. Instead, he continues to sugarcoat and repeat the false narrative of the circumstances of how the casino is being foisted on the community.

Unknown said...

This quote from Chairman Hitchcock's letter: "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."

If there are only going to be positive effects from the casino, why will these programs and additional funds be necessary? Also, why were citizens told that the casino was a done deal by the city council when we tried to object. That hardly seems like a fair hearing. And when have we heard a fair response to the initiative's 14,000 signatures asking for a public vote on the casino?

The casino will be a blight on our family-friendly community.

Patty Johnson

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