New report shows City of Folsom saw 47% increase in violent crimes and officers responded to 3,541 calls involving homeless in 2023

Every seat in City Hall was occupied before Tuesday night’s Folsom City Council Meeting even got started. Filled with residents, members of the Folsom Police Department, and more, attendees overflowed outside of the chambers and building for a meeting in which the Folsom Police Department shared the most recent annual report on crime and homelessness and its needs to combat the city’s growing rate of both.

Folsom Police Chief Rick Hillman took to the podium to present the latest numbers, many of which illustrated dramatic increases from 2022 into 2023. The numbers shared on Tuesday night were reflective of the concerns many residents have been sharing over the last several months with city leaders who are struggling with the challenges of a budget shortfall ahead.


Hillman began his presentation with a comparison of Folsom’s rise in crime compared to that of other areas. After an inquiry from Councilwoman Rosario Rodriguez, Hillman explained that all the crime data was collected from his department as well as the departments of neighboring communities who directly provided the requested data upon request.

According to Hillman’s presentation, in 2023, violent crimes in Folsom rose by an alarming 47 percent, which does not include the latest violent incidents that have occurred in recent months of 2024, all of which involved members of the homeless community. Comparing it to data from the other agencies, Sacramento reported a decrease of violent crime calls by 18 percent in the past year. Elk Grove reported its violent crimes dropped by 1 percent while Rocklin rose by 24 percent.


In the category of property crimes, Folsom rose by 8 percent in 2023, equal to Elk Grove. Rocklin reported an 18 percent decline in property crimes over the year compared to 2022. Sacramento data was unavailable at the time of Hillman’s presentation.

Hillman then broke down many of the crimes by type when it came to Folsom’s rise in numbers. When it came to assaults, the city experienced a 42 percent spike in incidents with 351 assaults reported, rape reports in Folsom rose by 53 percent over last year with 49 reports. Organized retail theft rose by 400 percent with 85 instances., robbery reports were up by 144% with 49 reports. The last category showing a rise was child pornography reports at 26%, with 24 incidents being reported.


Hillman also pointed out the specific crimes that saw a decrease, including arson charges that dropped by 40 percent, burglary which dropped by 5 percent, drug charges that saw a 27 percent drop while DUI’s dropped by 10 percent and weapon charges saw a 28 percent drop.

Folsom Police Chief Rick Hillman addresses Folsom City Council Tuesday.

When it came to traffic data, Hillman shared that in 2023 Folsom had five traffic-related fatalities, up 66 percent from 2022 which had three. In 2019, a total of five people were killed in traffic collisions. A total of 243 injury collisions took place, up 6 percent from 2022. 531 non-injury collisions took place up 8 percent and property damage accidents spiked by 16 percent with 720 calls.

Hillman expanded his presentation to share the department’s 2023 data on calls involving homelessness. Reminding those listening that homelessness is not a crime, Hillman explained that many in the homeless community commit crimes from serious assaults to disturbances, he explained.


In 2023, the Folsom Police Department responded to 3,541 calls for service that involved what they classify as unhoused individuals. The number accounts for 8 percent of the total 44,050 total calls that the department responded to overall. He also reported that the department responded to more than 200 complaints of illegal campsites in the city. The Problem-Oriented Policing (POP) Team was responsible for posting 65 of those reports for abatement with patrol officers handling the remainder of the reports. City Code Enforcement is responsible for the cleanup of such sites.

While the rise in crimes cannot be fully attributed to the homeless community in the city, a portion of its growth can be attributed to the lack of sufficient patrol on the streets. As officers become bogged down responding to calls related to encampments, it takes time away from other aspects of combating crime in the city. The ongoing issue of staffing and vacancies in the department is also a factor that has fewer officers patrolling the community on a regular basis.

Hillman shared the numbers detailing the current vacancies in the department that were as follows. Currently, five vacancies are reported for light-duty officers, such as office assignments; three officers are currently on long-term disability; there are three vacant police officer positions; two vacant Community Service Officer positions; three vacant Cadet positions; three dispatcher vacancies, and one additional dispatcher that is out on maternity leave. He also noted that presenting there are three officers in training with a month remaining and two officer recruits currently in the academy and expected to graduate this July.

By sharing the latest data, Hillman was looking for council to advise further direction to fulfill the needs of the department. A discussion broke out amongst Hillman and council members regarding the fact that neighboring cities have implemented Homeless Outreach Teams (HOT). These additional staff members focus solely on approaching the homeless issues in their communities. The City of Folsom is one of very few cities in the region without such an additional force, which in turn is reportedly contributing to the growth of the homeless community in Folsom as enforcement elsewhere is causing many to relocate to an area that has less enforcement or a lesser ability to do so.

According to Hillman, the City of Folsom realistically needs a team consisting of six officers, ranging in ranks from Lieutenants to Sergeants and Officers. This team would assist in allowing the department’s sworn officers to focus on the needs of other crimes in the city as well as the need for patrol.

After sharing the numbers, council welcomed several members of the public who signed up to speak on the topic step forward and share their thoughts or concerns on the issues. One of the speakers was a member of the force himself, Folsom Police Sgt. John Triplett who is currently the Folsom Police Officer Association (FPOA) President, who was one of many off-duty officers in attendance representing the FPOA Tuesday night.

Folsom Police Sgt.and FPOA President John Triplett addresses Folsom City Council Tuesday night on the need for additional Police Officers in Folsom.

“I am speaking here once again after another attack involving homelessness in our city park. Since my last speech you’ve had last week’s attack, another unprovoked attack in the Historic District and the earlier pickaxe attack, all involving homeless individuals,” said Triplett. “Ten years ago in 2006 we had 81 cops here. Today in 2024 we again have 81 positions staffed. I’m willing to discuss the solutions further or be part of the process, in all of this, but only two of you (council members) have reached out to me, and I thank those two. I want to thank all of the officers here tonight showing support and the community here in the chamber and the hallway.”

Sgt. Mike Grueneberg of the Folsom Police Department was the next officer to take the stand Tuesday. After thanking all of the officers who were in attendance, Grueneberg went with similar dialogue of his colleague.

“First of all, yes, homelessness is not a crime. However, the lawlessness and criminal behavior should not be accepted, tolerated, or allowed in a desirable city,” said Grueneberg. “We need a full-time team to manage and provide proper outreach like every other law enforcement agency in the region. I propose four additional officers, a Corporal, and a Sergeant and bring our magic number from 81 to 87. With this team’s sole responsibility to manage our homeless community I do believe it will reduce the calls for service. 

In the words of Martin Luther King, you can’t build a great building on a weak foundation, you must have a solid foundation if you are going to have a strong superstructure. Now, more than ever, it’s time to build that foundation. We have to build a foundation and that begins with a properly staffed police department to meet the needs of the community.” Longtime Folsom resident Doug Scelzi stepped up to share his thoughts and frustrations.”

Scelzi is not only a local resident and businessman but is a longtime reserve with the police department. He recently took it upon himself to set up a meeting with the Rancho Cordova Police Department to discuss the issues in Folsom and learn more about their success in managing it down the hill. 

“There is a lot of contention about this meeting that was set up with Rancho Cordova. There’s a lot of concern where it came from. I set it up. I don’t represent the city or department here, even though I’m a reserve for almost 30. I stand here tonight as a lifetime member of this community and represent this community,” he clarified. “I asked City Councilmember Anna Rohrbough and Sergeant Gruenberg to attend the meeting with me….a lot of good things came out of that. We are behind the curve so far and I really want to see something come out of this meeting tonight.” Scelzi went on to share some of the outtakes from the information meeting he arranged with Rancho Cordova. One of the key points he shared was the size of the force versus the city population. 

“Rancho Cordova is 81,000 people. Folsom is 85,000 people. Rancho Cordova has 93 sworn officers Folsom has 80 sworn officers. Cordova also has contract officers, and not one, but, two sergeants and a seven-member team dedicated to homeless issues. They are now coming to our city where we don’t have the manpower to deal with it, so we need manpower to deal with it and the bottom line is we need to have them right away. I have watched our own councilmember say we need more officers and our mayor laughed at her, I watched it right here. We have a chief who knows that he is doing and this needs to be a high budget priority.” Several residents also spoke in support of the need for more officers Tuesday night. One of them was Bryan Greenwalt who has experienced issues with the homeless with his family in town as well as the traffic enforcement issues. “I understand the budget is a tough process,” said Greenwalt. “There is nothing else to say other than our police department is understaffed. Driving in this town has gotten very dangerous. My six-year-old child shouldn’t walk in the park at 3:45 in the afternoon for her softball game and see a homeless person laying on a table with bottles of alcohol spilled. When you call PD, they say they will send an officer but there isn’t much they can do and it will take 45-minutes. Please find the money do this. My kids should not have to be scared to use the bathroom at Lembi Park or be scared to play because their ball may fall literally into a pile of human crap. If you don’t believe me, go by there I am sure it’s still there.” 

Following the public comment, council began to discuss the concerns. Mayor Mike Kozlowski began by stating the presentation was not an action item, but was advised by the City Attorney that the department was requesting direction from council on their request for the needs. Councilmember Rohrbough made a motion for the city to approve immediate funding to assist the department, citing concerns on waiting for a final 2024-2025 budget review and approval. Councilmember YK Chalamcherla asked Rohrbough to amend her motion to, “seek approval with immediate effect, since they can’t make a motion against an unapproved budget,” so the department could get started on on the hiring process without further delay. From there the discussion continued among council members.

.Council member and Vice Mayor Sarah Aquino asked Chief Hillman if the current funds the department has due to its current vacancies could assist in the time being for additional recruitment as the city moves forward with its upcoming budget process. Hillman explained the lengthy process when it comes to recruitment, testing, and putting new officers through the Academy. 

Folsom Councilwoman Anna Rohrbough made a motion for immediate police funding Tuesday night that was declined by council 3-2 as future budget talks approach.

Lateral officers (experienced), don’t take as long of a process but require funding and applicants. As the discussion continued, Rohrbough expressed that the point of her motion was to make the department staffing a priority in the budget. She cited that using emergency funds immediately would not be long term with the upcoming budget review on May 28. Mayor Kozlowski asked City Manager Elaine Andersen what they currently foresee in the upcoming budget for police officers. Anderson and City Finance Director Stacey Tamagini reported that an estimated three officers were in the current draft budget thus far. 

As they took a vote on Rohrbough’s motion proposing immediate action, Chalamcherla voted for it, Aquino, Koslowski and Rodriguez declined the motion for immediate action. “I am just not comfortable voting for something without knowing what is coming down the pike budget wise,” explained Rodriguez. “If we did this, we could end up not having the funds in the upcoming budget and then we are faced with having to lay off staff and that is just a terrible thing to have to do. I just can’t support this without knowing what is ahead.” 

Following the vote, Kozlowski asked the City Manager to work on adjusting the draft budget to ensure it contains the needs stated by the police department or as close as possible to it. He noted, in doing so it will likely mean funding in another department of the city will have to be reduced. Chief Hillman cited he would work with whatever additional funding was approved ahead in the best possible way.

The next Folsom City Council meeting will be May 14. Council will review the first draft of the new budget on May 28.

Those wishing to view Tuesday’s meeting in its entirety can do so here: