LASD curbs deputy in-car computer use after tragedy

CHP officer Leland Tang shows how the CHP uses heads up technology to help officers keep their eyes on the road at all times.

CHP officer Leland Tang shows how the CHP uses heads up technology to help officers keep their eyes on the road at all times.

By Brenda Gazzar, Staff Writer

In an effort to reduce distracted driving, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials have implemented a new policy that significantly curbs the use of in-car computers, authorities said.

The policy, which was formalized late last month, contains the department’s first explicit restrictions on such devices and comes a little more than a year after sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Wood fatally struck cyclist Milton Olin Jr. on Mulholland Highway in Calabasas while typing on his in-car computer.

While stopping short of banning all in-car computer use, the new policy of the country’s largest sheriff’s agency requires that radios be used as “the primary tool of communication” while vehicles are moving and eliminates the use of in-car computers for administrative tasks.

“The significance is to reduce the danger to the public, predominantly, and the danger to our own deputies that are posed by distracted driving and distracting devices,” said Sgt. Albert Schauberger, corrective actions sergeant at the department’s risk management bureau.

Employees cannot use their computer while driving a county vehicle unless the communication is urgent or necessary for officer safety and radio traffic prevents its timely transmission or unless it’s to hit one button to send status updates such as “en-route” or “acknowledge,” according to the new policy.

The in-car computer should be used as a last resort, such as when a deputy is facing an emergency and there’s another serious incident already being broadcast on the radio channel, and not out of convenience since it’s more distracting than a radio, Schauberger said.

“If there’s no other means to communicate and in case of emergency, then (the in-car computer) should be used because it’s all you have left,” he said.

In addition, personnel cannot use their mobile digital computers for administrative tasks, such as clearing calls, updating logs, typing, sending or reading administrative or nonurgent messages while driving, the policy states.

However, a union leader argues that the new policy leaves deputies who are trying to carry out their duties unduly vulnerable to discipline.

Read more in Brenda Gazzar’s story DISTRACTED.

Daylight Savings great time to check smoke detectors

Daylight Savings Time is this weekend and when everyone turns their clocks ahead, the American Red Cross reminds them to also take these steps to make sure their household is prepared for emergencies.

It’s important for everyone to make sure their household is ready,” said Jarrett Barrios, CEO. American Red Cross Los Angeles Region. “A disaster like a home fire can happen anywhere, at any time, and with the cold snap we have been experiencing in Southern California, people need to be extra cautious especially if they are using space heaters. We urge people to take these steps now and know what they should do if an emergency occurs.”

  • Check smoke detector batteries. When turning the clocks ahead, take a few minutes to replace the smoke alarm batteries and push the test button to make sure the alarms are working. It’s also a great time to check carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Install smoke detectors.If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Check local building codes for additional requirements.
  • Practice an escape plan. Make sure everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.
  • Follow the three feet rule.
  • Get a kit. Keep disaster supplies in an easy-to-carry bag to use at home or carry in case ordered to evacuate.
  • Make a plan. Have all household members plan what steps they should take if an emergency occurs.
  • Be informed. Learn what emergencies can occur in the area and how officials notify residents should a disaster occur.


Home Fire Preparedness Campaign:In the Los Angeles Region, the Red Cross responded to 442 home fires last year. Tragically, some people lose their lives in these fires, and countless others are injured.

The Red Cross has launched the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign to reduce the number of deaths and injuries due to home fires by 25 percent over the next five years and involves Red Cross workers joining with local fire departments and community groups to visit neighborhoods at high risk for fires.

Those visits includeeducating people about fire safety through door-to-door visits and installation of smoke alarms in some of these neighborhoods.

Visit us on to take our Home Fire Preparedness Quiz and enter to win a Galaxy Tablet.

Haggen taking over Vons in Diamond Bar

A shopper loads his trunk with groceries at parking lot of Vons supermarket in Diamond Bar

A shopper loads his trunk with groceries at parking lot of Vons supermarket in Diamond Bar

By Kevin Smith, Staff Writer

The name Haggen might not ring a bell with Southland consumers now. But it soon will because the Bellingham, Wash. -based supermarket chain is about to open 83 California locations in stores that have been operating as either Albertsons or Vons.

Haggen Inc.’s entry into the California grocery industry came about through the merger of Albertsons and Safeway. Cerberus Capital Management, the private investment company that owns Albertsons, received approval from the Federal Trade Commission in January to buy Safeway (Vons’ parent company) for about $9.2 billion.

In order to comply with antitrust laws that seek to preserve a competitive marketplace, Albertsons and Safeway had to shed a total of 168 stores. Haggen is one of four buyers approved by the FTC to purchase the stores and it’s getting the lion’s share — 146 of them.

The 83 California supermarkets to be converted include 55 Albertsons stores and 28 Vons locations. An Albertsons at 5038 W. Avenue North in Palmdale and a Vons at 240 S. Diamond Bar Blvd. in Diamond Bar are among the first Southern California stores to be converted this month.

For more, read Kevin Smith’s story HAGGEN

Red Cross CEO talks to Industry Manufacturers Council


More than 225 members and guests of the Industry Manufacturers Council (IMC)were treated to a history lesson about the origins of the Red Cross by Jarrett Barrios, CEO of the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region, when he gave the keynote address at the quarterly meeting of the IMC.

In honor of March is Red Cross Month, Barrios was invited to talk the group about the history, mission, lines of service and presence of the American Red Cross in the Los Angeles region.

At the event, held at the Pacific Palms in the City of Industry, Mr. Barrios also accepted a proclamation from Angie Valenzuela, Field Deputy from Supervisor Don Knabe’s, who serves the Fourth District of Los Angeles County.

For more information on American Red Cross Los Angeles Region, please visit

Man accused of posing as Amazon recruiter lures woman to interview, tries to kidnap her

After San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Chino Hills detectives arrested Aaron Misael Viteri Vera, 22, for allegedly kidnapping the young woman late last month, investigators reportedly found documents with the names of other women on them, officials said in a statement.

Viteri Vera met the 19-year-old woman through a social media application last month. The 22-year-old man used the screen name “Jay Delgado” and began messaging the woman regarding a job at the Amazon warehouse.

On February 26, the two were to meet at the Subway to eat lunch and discuss her possible employment with Amazon, officials said. When Viteri Vera arrived, he told the woman he did not want Subway and offered to drive them both to Wendy’s instead.

The woman got in the car and Viteri Vera got on the freeway, according to a sheriff’s statement. He allegedly took the victim’s phone and refused to return it to her.

When the woman realized they were not going to Wendy’s and she became alarmed and began to struggle with Viteri Vera in the car.

The victim, fearing for her life, opened the door to jump out of the car.

Viteri Vera grabbed her by the waist of her pants and tried to keep her in the car, officials said. Viteri Vera slowed the car and that’s when the victim jumped from the car and ran. She then reported the incident to law enforcement.

On Wednesday morning, detectives and deputies from the Multiple Enforcement Team at the Chino Hills station served a search warrant at Viteri Vera’s house in Riverside Wednesday morning and arrested.

He is currently behind bars at West Valley Detention Center.

Because of the evidence found at his home, including his various profiles on social media sites, detectives believe he may have victimized other women.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Chino Hills station at 909-364-2000.

Chinese New Year celebrated at Cal Poly Pomona

By Effie Chen, Cal Poly Pomona

In recent years, Chinese New Year has become a festival that not only interests Chinese or Asians, but more and more people in the mainstream of American society have also grown interested in.

In Feb. 2015, the California State Senate just passed a resolution presented by Senator Bob Huff, the senate republican leader of California, to make Chinese New Year an official festival in California to honor the state’s rich cultural diversity.

Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy in Los Angeles has been established for over 14 years, and it has dedicated itself to the promotion of the essence of traditional Chinese culture.

In the beginning of the Year of the Ram, it has teamed up with the English Language Institute at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona to host the “2015 Chinese New Year Gathering,” to introduce to the local communities the culture and customs about Chinese New Year, the most important Chinese festival of the year.

The event will be energetically kicked off by a series of festive New Year songs presented by the Happy Band, composed of Tai Ji Men members. Following that will be an amazing feast of traditional Chinese culture, including “Heavenly Official Bestowing Blessings to All,” “Auspicious Lions Bringing Good Fortune to All,” “Lantern Dance,” “Martial Arts Formation,” etc. to showcase an excellent culture.

Additionally, as an ancient menpai (similar to school) of qigong, martial arts, and self-cultivation, Tai Ji Men will also offer “Kung Fu Tea,” which will invite the participants to follow an ancient tea ritual and travel back in time to experience the spirit of martial arts and self-cultivation.

Of course, no Chinese New Year celebration will be complete without the “red envelops!” Tai Ji Men will also give each participant a red envelop and a unique necklace of Chinese knot with the words: “Good fortune is coming to you” on it to wish them to have the best of luck throughout the Year of the Ram!

The young Tai Ji Men members participating in the cultural performances are all American born Chinese, the youngest of whom is only 3 years old. They get to understand and appreciate the profound meanings behind the traditional cultural presentations through practicing and performing the lion dance, martial arts demonstration, lantern dance, etc.

Not only young Chinese Americans are actively involved in the event, a Caucasian will also play the role of “heavenly official” to spread good fortune to all participants of the event. In addition to Chinese cultural presentations, the cultural exchanges will also include performances by representatives from India, Costa Rica, Japan, etc. to enhance mutual understanding among people of different ethnic backgrounds.

For the past ten plus years, Tai Ji Men members, motivated by love, have traveled around the five continents of the world to spread the ideas of love and peace and unite people’s hearts through cultural exchanges.

Since recently the world has seen escalating geopolitical tensions among ethnic groups and nations, creating opportunities to foster interactions and understanding among people of different backgrounds has become especially important.  

Diamond Bar warns drivers about traffic delays

City of Diamond Bar

Motorists, be advised that if your morning or afternoon commute includes crossing the Grand Avenue Bridge above the 60 freeway, you can expect heavy traffic delays  as a result of a City of Industry road resurfacing project.

The project, which involves grinding and repaving the stretch of road between the freeway on and off-ramps, will result in a single traffic lane open to traffic on both the southbound and northbound sides. The lane reductions coupled with the vehicles exiting and entering the freeways will create significant delays for through traffic.

It is anticipated that the project will continue into the middle of next week; the lane closures by the City of Industry are scheduled as follows:

  • southbound (coming from City of Industry) lane closure from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • northbound (going out of City of Diamond Bar) lane closure to start from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

In an effort to help alleviate traffic in the area, City of Diamond Bar has:

  • set up a message board on Grand Avenue between Montefino Avenue and Lavender Drive to inform passing motorists of the road work and encourage alternate routes;
  • worked with Caltrans to increase the timing cycle length at the traffic signals near the freeway on and off-ramps during the morning rush hour; and
  • will schedule Sheriff’s deputies to assist with traffic control as needed.

Questions related to the road resurfacing project should be directed to the City of Industry at 626.333.2211.

Feds target 3 alleged Chinese ‘maternity tourism’ in Rowland, Walnut

Federal agents search apartments

Federal agents search apartments

By Kevin Smith, Staff Writer

Federal agents searched several Southern California locations on Tuesday in a crackdown on so-called maternity tourism operators who arrange for pregnant Chinese women to give birth in the U.S., where their babies automatically become American citizens.

The crackdown on three alleged maternity tourism rings may be the biggest yet by federal homeland security agents who say that, while pregnant women may travel to the United States, they cannot lie about the purpose of their trip when applying for a visa.

Birth tourism has been reported from a range of countries, but authorities say the most recent cases in California have catered to wealthy Chinese amid a boom in tourism from mainland China. It is unclear how many women travel to the United States for maternity tourism.

Searches were done in Rancho Cucamonga, Rowland Heights, Walnut and Irvine.

About two dozen investigators from the Department of Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Service criminal division, the Irvine Police Department and sheriff’s deputies from San Bernardino County blanketed the west end of the neatly landscaped apartment complex, located at 17800 E. Colima Road in Rowland Heights.

Some brought out boxes of papers and other evidence and locked them in black, unmarked vans. Others, mostly women, stood inside doorways of the apartments talking on their cell phones.

Asian women investigators were seen interviewing women in the complex. Some who apparently lived there were chaperoned by law enforcement from the carport up the winding pathways, disappearing into apartments.

Read more in Kevin Smith’s story MATERNITY

34 spellers advance to finals of Inland Valley Regional Spelling Bee


By Inland Valley Regional Spelling Bee

Facing the possibility of heavy rain on the day of the preliminaries, the volunteers of the Inland Valley Regional Spelling Bee planned for the worst. But as luck would have it, partly cloudy skies and bright sunshine  prevailed.

Excited spellers and their families, friends and teachers piled into the Design Technology Center at Mt. SAC early Saturday morning.

After the throngs of school champions were registered and given their T-shirts, they lined up and marched into the auditorium to the strains of their favorite music.

Marsha Hawkins, Spelling Bee Director introduced the announcer Ken Mok, who explained what was going to happen that day. The spellers were separated into their red, blue and yellow color groups and escorted to their venues – written spelling, written vocabulary or oral spelling.

After three tense hours the tests were corrected and the points were tallied. The excited spellers were asked to come up to the stage where they were presented with medallions signifying their successful advancement to the final rounds.

These lucky spellers will spend this week studying hard and fast to be ready to face their competitors early Saturday morning, March 7.

Among those advancing to the finals are Rebecca Norden-Bright of Pioneer Jr. High in Upland, who has participated for the last six years, Hannah Sylvestro of St. Margaret Mary School in Chino, our champion in 2013 and Thordar Han of South Point Middle School in Diamond Bar who is making her second appearance at the Bee.

The finals will take place at 8 a.m. in the auditorium at the DTC. All 35 finalists will be seated on stage, where they will be called up one at a time to spell their word.

If they are correct, they will sit back down. If they fail to spell correctly, they will join their parents in the audience. This will go on until one student is able to out-spell all the others.

The finals of the IVRSB have always been exciting and the children are the show. They are funny, bright, excited and above all dedicated.

Teens arrested on suspicion of breaking into Diamond Bar home

Deputies arrested three teenage burglary suspects Sunday afternoon after they broke into a Diamond Bar home occupied by another teenager, officials said.

The break-in occurred about 12:10 p.m. in the 800 block of Leyland Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. David Buckner said.

A teenage boy was home alone when the burglars knocked at the door, then forced their way into the house after receiving no response, the lieutenant said.

The victim called 9-1-1 to report the burglary while the teenage suspects were still inside the home, Buckner said. They fled in a blue Honda Civic before deputies arrived, however.

A neighbor managed to take down the license plate number, and deputies soon found it nearby and pulled it over, Buckner said.

Deputies arrested the three teens, who are all about 17 years old, and recovered several hundred dollars believed to have been stolen in the break-in, he said