Pleasanton, Calif., reveals its aspirations in its name. Set amid the hills of golden grass that give California its nickname, between the San Francisco Bay and the Central Valley, the century-old town didn't even have a professional fire department of its own a generation ago.
Now, "the city of planned progress," as it calls itself, is a booming community of 55,000; its farms have given way to bedroom subdevelopments and the largest business park in the northern half of the state. Although three federal lockups and a county jail lie just outside its borders and crime-plagued Oakland is only 20 miles away, Pleasanton offers a refuge from the harsh realities of city life; many area police officers make their homes in Pleasanton. Ideals and expectations that might seem archaic elsewhere are still alive there.
Serious crime is rare in Pleasanton. When a serious crime is committed, it's more than just upsetting; it comes as an affront, a violation of some imagined contract. Although the town is in fact named after a Civil War general, one could easily believe it took on the name in the hope that life...
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