Throughout the San Gabriel Valley and beyond, cops have been working to brighten the holidays of needy and disadvantaged kids.
Police and California Highway Patrol Officers, as well as Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, have been busily playing the roles of elves distributing toys, food and cheer to young people in need of some holiday spirit.
The California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have run large-scale toy drives to collect gifts for kids who might otherwise go without this holiday season.
And sheriff’s officials even brought Santa Claus, via helicopter, to meet with kids in Compton Saturday as deputies took them on a special Target shopping trip. Sheriff’s deputies also hosted an annual party Dec. 7 for abused and neglected children.
Police officers from both the Irwindale and Covina police departments have delivered toys to the young patients at the City of Hope in Duarte this month.
Police agencies including those in Whittier and West Covina, as well as some sheriff’s stations, joined Target stores for the “Heroes & Helpers” program, in which officers take needy youths shopping for gifts, officials said.
In La Puente, deputies visited schools and churches and neighborhood to hand out about 300 bags full of groceries Friday, sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro said. And more food giveaways are planned this week.
Baldwin Park police attracted an estimated 2,000 kids to their police station Friday as they handed out more than 3,500 toys, according to the Baldwin Park Police Association. And of course, Santa Claus was on-hand as well.
PHOTOS: (top to bottom) 1.)Covina police officials deliver toys to children at the City of Hope in Duarte on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. (Courtesy) 2.) Whittier police take children shopping at Target in Whittier as part of the “Heroes & Helpers” program on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. (Courtesy) 3.) Principal Mona Diaz of Workman Elementary School in La Puente stands in front of a patrol car as Sgt. John Suh unloads bags of groceries to be handed out to families to help out for the holidays on Friday, Dec. 18, 2014. (Courtesy) 4.) Children meet with Santa Claus at the Baldwin Park Police Station as the Baldwin Park Police Association handed out more than 3,500 toys. (Courtesy) 5.) Irwindale police and city officials from Irwindale and La Puente deliver donated toys to City of Hope in Duarte on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. From left to right: La Puente City Councilman David Argudo, Irwindale police Officer Shawn Cory, Irwindale police Officer Diego Cornejo, Irwindale police Detective Jose Vargas, Irwindale police Capt. Ty Henshaw and Irwindale Mayor Mark Breceda. (Courtesy) 6.) West Covina police take children shopping at Target in Whittier as part of the “Heroes & Helpers” program on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. (Courtesy)
POMONA >> The California Highway Patrol is teaming up with a popular car show in Pomona Wednesday to collect toys and gifts for local children in need.
Officials will gather toys for their annual “CHIPS for Kids” program from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. during the Prolong Twilight Cruise at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum at Fairplex in Pomona, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Building 3A, CHP officials said in a written statement.
“Entrants are encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy or gift to donate, and CHIPS notes that there is a big need for gifts for teens,” according to the statement.
Walgreens representatives will be on-hand with $10 gifts available for those who wish to purchase one and donate it at the event.
To kick off the drive, car show sponsor Prolong Super Lubricants is donating $500 worth of toys.
The popular Prolong Twilight Cruise generally attracts more than 250 street rods, hot rods and muscle cars, organizers said.
BALDWIN PARK >> Teen drivers and their parents are invited to take part in a free interactive class hosted by the California Highway Patrol and geared to improve traffic safety for young people.
The “Smart Start” seminar will take place at 6:15 p.m. Friday at the Baldwin Park office of the CHP, 14039 Francisquito Ave, CHP officials said in a written statement.
All teens ages 15 to 19 are invited to attend with their parents. A driver’s license is not required.
The safe driving awareness class, “will illustrate how poor choices behind the wheel of a car can affect the lives of numerous people,” the statement said.
Due to graphic images and video shown during the class, all teens must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, who must sign a waiver at the beginning of the class.
Topics discussed will include responsibilities of new drivers, responsibilities of parents and collision avoidance techniques.
Seating is limited.
For more information or to reserve a space, contact Officer Rodrigo Jimenez at 626-338-1164, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
WEST COVINA >> Dozens of San Gabriel Valley first responders took part in a large-scale active shooter training scenario simulating a terrorist attack on a West Covina shopping mall Sunday.
Six local law enforcement agencies, federal officials and firefighters took part in the mock terror attack at the Plaza West Covina shopping mall, which was held early in the morning, before mall business opened for the day.
“We take the safety of our visitors and our residents very seriously,” West Covina Police Chief David Faulkner said. “There have been several incidents that have happened on the east coast — one happened last week — that certainly have raised our awareness that we need to be prepared. And in my view, we need to be ready for something and hope it never happens, (rather) than to respond to something we weren’t prepared for.”
A blast from a flash-bang grenade intended to simulate a bomb detonation signalled the beginning of the intensive drill at the mall, where three West Covina police officers played the role of heavily armed gunmen bent on creating carnage. Within minutes, the sounds of simulated gunshots echoed through the mall as police engaged the mock terrorists in a gunfight.
Two of the pseudo suspects carried assault rifles, while the third carried a shotgun.
Participating first responders were not told ahead of time what they would be facing in the drill, West Covina police Cpl. Rudy Lopez explained.
“Each officer involved in this has to determine how to best handle the situation,” he said.
Police simultaneously hunted for the gunmen and rescued mock victims who wore makeup to simulate injuries. Some officers carried their standard duty sidearms, while others were armed with rifles.
Patrol officers called in a SWAT team after the attack turned into a hostage situation.
Practicing a technique known as “fast-roping,” West Covina police SWAT members slid down a rope from a hovering Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter to join in the operation.
The West Covina Police Department’s recently acquired rescue vehicle, a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle acquired from the U.S. Department of Defense, was used to evacuate victims.
After a scenario that lasted about an hour, the three suspects had been killed in shoot-outs with officers. Three civilians had also been killed during the scenario, and many more wounded.
Police officers from West Covina, Covina, Baldwin Park and Irwindale police departments were joined by California Highway Patrol officers, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials, FBI agents, West Covina firefighters and mall security officials in responding to the mock attack, Lopez said. While West Covina has hosted similar training scenarios in the past, Sunday’s training session was their biggest.
About 75 law enforcement officers participated, along with about 60 volunteers playing the part of victims or bystanders, officials said. The volunteers were primarily police Explorers from the West Covina, Glendora and Ontario police departments.
“Whether this incident happens in West Covina, or happens in Irwindale or Covina, we’re familiar with working with each others’ team,” the chief said. “We might be in different uniforms, but in the end, we’re all in one uniform when it comes time to deal with a critical incident.”
After watching the exercise unfold at the mall, West Covina City Councilman Fred Sykes said he approved.
“A place this large, it’s unfathomable for us not to look at what to do in this type of situation,” he said.
The costs and planning associated with massive drill is a wise investment, as it may help save lives down the road, Sykes said.
“This is extremely important for our community,” the councilman said.
Just like in sports, he added, “The battles are won in practice.”
ROSEMEAD >> A Los Angeles Police Department motorcycle officer suffered minor injuries in a collision with a car, which fled the scene, on the 10 Freeway Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
The crash took place at 4:43 p.m. on the eastbound Metro ExpressLanes of the 10 Freeway near Del Mar Avenue in Rosemead, California Highway Patrol Officer Alex Rubio said.
The car that struck the officer was described as a black Honda Civic or Toyota Camry, officials said. It was lowered, with custom rims, tinted windows and white lettering on the rear windshield.
The hit-and-run car was last seen exiting the 10 Freeway at Walnut Grove Avenue, just east of the crash scene, according to the CHP.
The Metro ExpressLanes of the eastbound 10 Freeway were briefly shut down following the collision, however the regular traffic lanes remained open, Rubio said.
The crash was being investigated by the East Los Angeles office of the CHP.
EAST LOS ANGELES >> A possibly suicidal person on an overpass today caused the complete shutdown of the 5 Freeway in East Los Angeles during rush hour Friday, wreaking havoc on the afternoon commute for nearly four hours, authorities said.
The individual, described only as male, was seen about 3:40 p.m. on a freeway traffic camera grasping a sign attached to the Downey Road overpass, just west of 710 Freeway transition, according to California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles Count sheriff’s officials.
Deputies were treating the situation as a possible suicide attempt, and crisis negotiators responded to speak with the man, Sgt. R. Laflin of the sheriff’s East Los Angeles Station said.
“Our crisis negotiation team has made contact with him,” the sergeant said. No details were available regarding what the man was saying to officials.
Northbound Santa Ana Freeway traffic was being diverted onto the northbound 710 Freeway and southbound vehicles were being diverted onto Dittman Avenue, according to the California Highway Patrol. The transition road from the northbound Long Beach Freeway to the northbound Santa Ana Freeway was also closed.
Traffic backed up significantly on the 5 Freeway, as well as on the 710, as officials continued dealing with the situation three hours later. An air bag was placed on the freeway below the overpass as a precaution.
The man was safely brought down from the overpass shortly before 7:30 p.m., however further details were not available, Laflin said.
The sergeant could not confirm reports that the man may have been scrawling graffiti when first encountered by officials, and it was unclear if the man was to be arrested or taken for psychological evaluation.
The Sig Alert for the 5 Freeway was cancelled about 7:30 p.m.
PHOTO courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
INDUSTRY — Two men and a woman died early Sunday after the car they were riding in went off the side of the 60 Freeway in Industry, landing in a construction site, authorities said.
The crash occurred just before 6:50 a.m. on the westbound 60 Freeway at Crossroads Parkway, California Highway Patrol Officer Monica Posada said.
A Kia Soul was traveling at an undetermined speed when it veered to the right of the road, and across the onramp and offramp for the westbound 60 Freeway, she said.
“The vehicle went off the freeway,” Posada said. “At some point, it went airborne and ended up in a construction site.”
The three occupants of the Kia were pronounced dead at the scene, officials said. They were initially described as two men and a woman in their 20s.
A Sig Alert remained in effect for several hours for the onramp and offramp to the westbound 60 Freeway as officers from the Santa Fe Springs office of the CHP conducted an investigation.
PHOTO courtesy of the CHP.
California Highway Patrol officials are planning a sobriety checkpoint Saturday night in an unincorporated county area near Industry, officials have announced.
The checkpoint will begin about 9 p.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location in the unincorporated county area near Industry, CHP officials said in a written statement.
Traffic volume permitting, all drivers that pass through the checkpoint will be checked by officers for sobriety, the statement said. If traffic volume becomes too heavy, officers will screen vehicle based on a pre-selected standard — such as every third vehicle or every 5th vehicle — to ensure objectivity.
Funding for Saturday’s checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
A Dodge Magnum slammed into temporary supports holding up an in-progress overpass at the 5 and 710 freeways in Commerce early Saturday, killing the driver, injuring his passenger and forcing a closure of the northbound 5 Freeway that was expected to remain in effect throughout the day, authorities said.
All but one lane of the northbound 710 Freeway was also closed following the fatal solo-car crash took place at 2:02 a.m. on the northbound 5 Freeway, just south of the 710 Freeway, California Highway Patrol Officer Rommel Deguzman said in a written statement.
Jose Antonio Garcia, 34, of Compton died in the crash, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
His passenger, a 23-year-old Los Angeles man, was hospitalized with moderate injuries, Deguzman said.
The 2007 Dodge Magnum was traveling at an unknown speed approaching an ongoing construction project to expand the 710 Freeway over-crossing, according to the officer.
“For reasons currently under investigation, the driver left the roadway and proceeded through the raised gore point of the I-5 northbound to the I-710 northbound transition road. As a result, the vehicle collided with the temporary construction framing of the 710 over-crossing expansion project,” Deguzman said. “As a result of the impact, a combination of wood and metal framing material collapsed onto the vehicle, rendering it disabled.”
Paramedics pronounced the driver dead at the scene.
Northbound lanes of the 5 Freeway were shut down at Atlantic Boulevard as Caltrans contractors repaired the damage, along with the transition road connecting the southbound 710 Freeway to the southbound 5 Freeway, according to the CHP. All lanes of the northbound 710 Freeway were reopened about 4 p.m.
The closure was expected to remain in effect until at least 9 p.m.
Countless cars backed up for miles behind the closure Saturday afternoon.
Some drivers turned off their engines to save gasoline or prevent overheating as they sat for long periods without moving.
Alexis Sereg, 18, said she and her friends had spent about three hours on the northbound 5 Freeway en route to Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia and had moved “a couple miles.”
The traffic jam came at a particularly inopportune time for Farshad Kasiri, 18, of Anaheim and his family, who spend nearly three hours stuck in the gridlock as they tried to make their way to Downtown Los Angeles.
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began Saturday, during which practicing Muslims traditionally refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours.
“We’re Muslim. We’re fasting. It’s really hot right now. We cant drink or eat anything,” Kasiri said with a smile.
PHOTO courtesy of Caltrans
ARCADIA — A gravel truck spilled its cargo on the 210 Freeway in Arcadia Wednesday, snarling afternoon traffic for hours, officials said.
The mishap occurred just after 3 p.m. on the westbound 210 Freeway, just east of Santa Anita Avenue, California Highway Patrol Officer Patrick Kimball said.
A truck spilled it’s load of tiny rocks into the roadway, initially blocking all lanes and damaging more than half-a-dozen other vehicles on the roadway, Kimball said. No injuries were reported.
Only the carpool and left lane of the freeway had been opened as of 4:45 p.m., he said.
A Sig Alert remained in effect on the freeway until all lanes were cleared shortly before 6 p.m., according to CHP logs.