Sierra Madre Police Department resumes full-time patrols

SIERRA MADRE >> After spending nine months reinforcing its depleted ranks to full force, the Sierra Madre Police Department resumed full patrol responsibilities for the city Sunday, ending an arrangement in which the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department handled nighttime law enforcement duties in the city, officials said.
In a written statement, Sierra Madre Police Chief Larry Giannone said the transition started “another chapter in the history of the Sierra Madre Police Department.”
“After a trying 9 months of rebuilding and restructuring, the police department is back to full force and once again able to police this fine community on a full-time basis,” Giannone said.
Following the sudden departure of nearly half the Sierra Madre Police Department’s force in 2015, and with recruitment challenged by looming concerns over potential slashed revenues looming in the form of a ballot measure to cut utility tax fees on the April, 2016, ballot, Sierra Madre partnered with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to supplement police services.
Deputies from the sheriff’s Temple Station have bee providing patrol service to Sierra Madre between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. daily.
Giannone said he was grateful for the help.
“Our thanks go out to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for their commitment to keep our community safe while they assisted us with coverage,” the chief said. “They treated the community as their own and for that we are appreciative.
The chief also thanked the community for its patience, support and understanding as the department faced its recent challenges.
“Your unwavering support, kind words, cards, letters, and friendly waves have inspired the new personnel to embrace the community and make it their own,” he said.
Sierra Madre had first reached out to its neighbor, Arcadia, to assist with supplementing police services, but city officials there declined the idea, saying the Arcadia officers were needed in Arcadia.
But with utility tax revenues maintained by the voters in the April election, the department was once again able to focus on beefing up its dwindling ranks.
“We are ready to move ahead and look forward to serving you,” Giannone said.
The department will face another significant change later this year, as Chief Giannone is scheduled to retire Dec. 10 after 44 years in law enforcement, 9 of them with the Sierra Madre Police Department.

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UPDATED: Body of missing hiker from La Puente discovered near Hermit Falls in Angeles National Forest

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ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> The search for a La Puente man who disappeared during a hiking trip in the Angeles National Forest north of Sierra Madre came to a tragic end Saturday when officials discovered the man’s body near the base of Hermit Falls, authorities said.
Avid outdoorsman John Richard King, 63, left his home in La Puente on Thursday morning and never returned, according to Deputy Guillermina Saldana of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau said.
His family reported him missing after he failed to return home Thursday night, as planned, officials said.
King’s car was found in the parking area of Chantry Flat, and sheriff’s search and rescue team members launched a search of the area that continued all day Friday.
The searchers discovered King’s body near the base of Hermit Falls about noon, Sgt. Alan Lie of the sheriff’s Temple Station said.
Homicide detectives and coroner’s officials were summoned to the scene to continue the investigation.
“Detectives report his body was found in the water below Hermit Falls by the Antelope Valley Search and Rescue Team,” according to Deputy Ruan Rouzan of the sheriff’s information Bureau. “It appears Mr. King, while hiking, slipped and fell approximately 40 feet into the water.”
“There appears to be no foul play, and the fall was accidental,” Rouzan said. “Mr. King’s family arrived on scene to positively identify his body.”
No further details were available.

PHOTO of John King, 63, of La Puente (courtesy)

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La Puente man vanishes during hiking trip in Angeles National Forest north of Sierra Madre

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ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> Rescuers continued searching the Angeles National Forest north of Sierra Madre on Friday for a 63-year-old La Puente man who went hiking Thursday and never returned, authorities said.
John Richard King was last seen about 10:30 a.m. on Thursday as he left his home in La Puente to go hiking in the Chantry Flat area of the forest, Deputy Guillermina Saldana of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
King was expected to return home by 10:30 p.m. but never arrived, Deputy Oscar Cantu of the sheriff’s Temple Station said. A worried relative reported him missing.
“The missing person’s vehicle was located in the parking area of Chantry Flat,” Saldana said. “He is an avid hiker and his family is very concerned for his wellbeing.”
Sheriff’s search and rescue teams from Sierra Madre, Malibu, Montrose and San Dimas, assisted by a helicopter, went in search of the missing hiker Thursday night. The search was halted overnight and resumed Friday morning.
King is described as white, 5 feet 10 inches tall, 220 pounds, with short gray hair, brown eyes and a gray beard.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau’s Missing Persons Detail at 323-890-5500.

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Sierra Madre man accused of possessing child pornography

SIERRA MADRE >> Police on Thursday announced the arrest of a Sierra Madre man accused of possessing child pornography.
Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Juvenile Division, Internet Crimes Against Children Unit arrested Victor Alexander Randall, 38, about 8 a.m. Tuesday, according to Sierra Madre police and Los Angeles County booking records.
“Investigators initiated the investigation after receiving reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children,” Sierra Madre police Sgt. Joe Ortiz said in a written statement.
After being booked at the LAPS’s 77th Street Station jail, Randal was released from custody the same day he was arrested after posting $20,000 bail, records show.
Further details regarding the allegations against Randall were not available Thursday.
He’s scheduled to appear for an arraignment hearing on Oct. 14 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

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Officials seek teen who went missing in Temple City

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TEMPLE CITY >> Sheriff’s officials asked the public’s help Thursday in finding a 17-year-old boy who went missing in Temple City.
Sterling Williamson was last seen about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday on Birchland Place in Temple City, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“The missing juvenile takes anxiety and antidepressant medication,” according the statement. “Possible areas of travel are Claremont where Williamson used to live, or Sierra Madre where his grandparents reside.”
He’s described a white, 5 feet 11 inches tall, 155 pounds, with green eyes and black hair.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Temple Station at 626-285-7171.

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Body found inside car in La Habra identified as that of Sierra Madre woman

La Habra Police and Orange County Coroner's Investigators examine the car where the body of a woman in her mid-30's was found in the parking lot on the West 1200-block of Imperial Highway in La Habra on Friday August 5, 2016. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News)

La Habra Police and Orange County Coroner’s Investigators examine the car where the body of a woman in her mid-30’s was found in the parking lot on the West 1200-block of Imperial Highway in La Habra on Friday August 5, 2016. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News)

LA HABRA >> Coroner’s officials have released the identity of a 34-year-old Sierra Madre woman who was found dead inside a parked car at a La Habra shopping center Friday morning.
Megan Sterling was pronounced dead at the scene after a man walking his dog discovered her unresponsive inside the front seat of a car parked outside a shopping center in the 1200 block of West Imperial Highway, near Idaho Street, Orange County coroner’s officials said in a written statement.
Her cause of death was yet to be determined through an autopsy.
It was not clear how long the woman may have been dead before her body was discovered. Police declined to comment on whether there were signs of trauma on the body.
Anyone with information can reach La Habra police at 562-383-4300.

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Pasadena woman taken for psychiatric evaluation following window smash spree in Sierra Madre, Arcadia

Police took a woman for psychiatric evaluation after a rock-throwing vandalism spree that caused thousands of dollars worth of damage to cars and buildings in Sierra Madre and Arcadia early Saturday.
The woman, a 35-year-old Pasadena resident, was expected to face vandalism charges once released from the hospital, Sierra Madre police officials said in a written statement.
The alleged rock rampage unfolded between about 7 and a.m., officials said.
Sierra Madre police received reports that the windows of three buildings and one car in their city had been smashed with rocks.
“While officers from the Sierra Madre Police Department were investigating the incidents, they soon learned that numerous locations were also vandalized with rocks in the City of Arcadia,” according to the statement.
Several cars at the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall, another car at the north end of Arcadia and a glass door at the Arboretum had also had their windows smashed with rocks, Arcadia police Sgt. Dan Crowther said.
Crowther spotted a car matching the description of the Sierra Madre vandal driving in Arcadia about 8 a.m., he said. He pulled over the car and detained the woman driving without incident.
“(A) witness positively identified the vehicle and the female driver as the one seen leaving the scene of one of the vandalisms that occurred in Sierra Madre,” the Sierra Madre police statement said. “During an inventory search of the suspect’s vehicle, numerous rocks — similar to the rocks found at the above crime scenes — were located inside the cab of the car.”
Police in Arcadia were still seeking witnesses Sunday to link the woman to the vandalisms in their city, Crowther said.
The woman appeared to be suffering from psychiatric issues and was taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation, officials said.
She faces potential charges of felony vandalism once released from treatment, police added.
The value of the damage in Sierra Madre was estimated at more than $3,000. An estimate of the damage in Arcadia was not available.

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La Puente named on of state’s 50 safest cities for third year in a row

LA PUENTE >> For the third year running, La Puente has been named one of the 50 safest cities in California by security organization Safe Wise.
The city earned the 48th spot on the SafeWise Report’s 50 Safest Cities in California list for 2016.
“Besides its enviably low crime rate, what caught our attention about La Puente is the way it cares for its children,” SafeWise said in a written statement.
“ La Puente’s Self-Esteem Through Activities Recreation and Sports program provides elementary school children with a diverse assortment of after-school activities. La Puente’s Teen V.O.I.C.E. program is a volunteer-based program for teens ages 13 to 18, and its Tiny Tot program helps build the self-esteem of children ages three to five.”
City Manager David Carmany said the designation “validated we are on the right track,” but said the majority of credit belongs to the city’s partners at the Los Angels County Sheriff’s Department, as well as city staff.
Six other San Gabriel Valley cities made the list of California’s top 50 safest cities.
Sierra Madre ranked 9th safest city in California, Walnut ranked 20th, Temple City ranked 38th, Diamond Bar ranked 42nd, Chino Hills ranked 47th and La Mirada ranked 49th.

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Sierra Madre to discuss hiring sheriff’s department for night patrols

SIERRA MADRE >> The Sierra Madre City Council discuss hiring the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to take over night patrols in the city later this month.
The Sierra Madre Police Department is woefully understaffed due to budgetary concerns and uncertainty about the department’s future, according to city officials. Nine of the department’s 20 full-time officers have left in recent months.
“Although the current staff is working to keep the community safe, this staffing model in not sustainable,” city officials said in a written statement.
After a previous plan to have Arcadia police patrol Sierra Madre between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. seven days a week was rejected by Arcadia officials, Sierra Madre is now turning to the sheriff’s department to take over night patrols.
The issue will be discussed at the upcoming Feb. 23 council meeting.
A staff report is available on the city’s website at www.cityofsierramadre.com/cityhall/agendas.

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30 mailboxes tampered with in Sierra Madre

SIERRA MADRE >> Police urged vigilance Saturday morning after discovering about 30 mailboxes had been tampered with in the northeast portion of Sierra Madre, and mail possibly stolen.
The spate of mailbox break-ins was first noticed about 7 a.m., when a resident of the 400 block of N. Canon Avenue went out for a walk and noticed his mailbox had been tampered with, and mail had possibly been stolen, Sierra Madre police officials said in a written statement.
Additional calls soon poured into the police station.
“At this point it appears that approximately 30 mailboxes were tampered with and the incident occurred overnight,” according to the police statement.
Anyone else who noticed their mailbox broken into or otherwise tampered with was asked to report is as well. Police are working with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in the investigation.
Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the nation, police said.
“One of the prime ways in which these identity theft suspects obtain personal information is by stealing mail and your personal mail can be a gold mine to determined criminals,” according to the police statement.
Residents with non-locking mailboxes are encouraged to replace them with ones fitted with locking mechanisms.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Sierra Madre police at 626-355-1414.

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