Whittier police launch mental evaluation team


WHITTIER >> A new mental evaluation team dedicated to dealing with community members with mental health issues has taken to the streets of Whittier and Santa Fe Springs, officials said.
The Whittier Mental Evaluation Team, comprised of one sworn police officer and once licensed clinician, began operating on Sept. 20, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
The team was formed in partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, “ to address the growing need for mental health services in our community,” according to the statement.
“This cooperative effort revolves around a co-response model that includes a licensed clinical social worker — provided by the LACDMH — and a sworn police officer provided by the Whittier Police Department to aid our patrol officers in handling calls for service involving persons who may be suffering from a mental health crisis or be in need of social services as well as building cooperative relationships with other service providers in the Whittier area,” according to the statement.
The team is currently made up of Officer Devin McClure and DMH Clinician Geraldine “Geri” Zuniga.
They patrol on weekdays, but can be called upon to assist at other times as well, Lt. Bryan Ellis said. In the month that they’ve been on-duty, the team has been “very active,” he added.
In addition to responding to “critical in-progress” incidents, the team will also work to address other mental health-related issues such as homeless outreach.
“Additionally, WMET will provide extensive follow up and case management for individuals with chronic mental illness, substance abuse, and homelessness,” according to the statement. “ By addressing these concerns on a regular basis, WMET can help to alleviate the burden placed on patrol resources and provide expert assistance to those in need.”

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Man shot while sitting in parked car with girlfriend in Santa Fe Springs

SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A man suffered wounds to his head and back after attackers inside two different cars opened fire on him as he sat in a parked car with his girlfriend near a park early Sunday, officials said.
The victim, a 20-year-old Whittier man, was expected to survive his injuries following the shooting, which took place about 1:10 a.m. in the 13200 block of Lakeland Ave., in front of Amelia Mayberry Park on the border between Santa Fe Springs and South Whittier, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
The man and his girlfriend were sitting in a parked car when two dark-colored cars pulled up next to them.
“There was a little bit of dialogue between them,” Ellis said. “The vehicles that pulled up fired several rounds.”
Bullets struck the victim in his head and back, Ellis said. He was taken to a hospital where he was listed in stable condition.
Ellis said the victim’s girlfriend was unhurt.
The suspect vehicles were described only as a possible Dodge Dart with three people inside and a possible Honda Civic.
It was unclear what was said before the attackers opened fire, and the motive in the shooting remained under investigation, Ellis said.
Anyone with information can reach the Whittier Police Department, which provides police services to Santa Fe Springs, at 562-567-9200. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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UPDATED: Man struck my minivan along Colima Road in Whittier

WHITTIER >> Rescuers flew a badly injured man to a trauma center after he was struck by a minivan after running into traffic along Colima Road in Whittier on Thursday afternoon, police said.
The collision took place about 3:45 p.m. along Colima Road, just north of Mar Vista Street, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
Witnesses reported the man, estimated to be in his mid-20s, ran into traffic before being struck by a Honda minivan, the lieutenant said.
Paramedics took the injured man to a nearby baseball diamond, where they landed a helicopter to rush the patient to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, Ellis said.
He remained hospitalized in critical condition with major head injuries Thursday night, Officer John Scoggins said.
The driver of the minivan remained at the scene and was cooperating with police, Ellis said.
The minivan was heading south, down a steep hill, when it struck the pedestrian, police said. There was no crosswalk at the collision site.
It was unclear why the man ran into traffic lanes, officials said.
Police shut down Colima Road as they investigated the scene. The road was expected to reopen late Thursday afternoon.
No further details were available.

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Whittier police seek missing woman


WHITTIER >> Police are seeking a missing Whittier woman who went out for a cigarette Friday night and hasn’t been seen since.
Monique Connie Bautista, 35, was last seen between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Friday at her home in the 9000 block of Painter Avenue, Whittier police Lt. Steve Dean said.
“Bautista stepped out to smoke a cigarette and never returned,” Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
“Bautista is reported to suffer from depression and is bipolar,” according to the statement. “It is unknown at this time whether or not she has been taking her medication.”
Police described Bautista as Latina, 5 feet 2 inches tall, 90 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information is asked to call Whittier police at 562-567-9270.

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Pico Rivera woman killed in West Whittier head-on crash

WEST WHITTIER >> A 22-year-old Pico Rivera woman died after the car she was riding in as a passenger collided head-on with another car on Mines Boulevard in West Whittier early Saturday, authorities said.
Cassandra Marie Arango died in the 4:40 a.m. crash at Mines Boulevard and Duchess Drive in the unincorporated county area, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
The driver of the 1995 Honda Civic in which Arango was riding suffered “major” injuries in the crash, CHP Officer Tim Zaspal said in a written statement. He was described as a 24-year-old Whittier man.
A young man and woman riding in the other involved vehicle, a 2015 Dodge Charger, were treated for minor injuries, Zaspal said.
The Honda was westbound on Mines Boulevard and the Dodge was eastbound just prior to the crash.
“The Honda and the Dodge were involved in a head-on collision and came to rest blocking lanes at the intersection of Mines Boulevard and Duchess Drive,” Zaspal said.
It was not yet clear which vehicle crossed over into opposing traffic lanes.
Paramedics pronounced Arango Honda dead at the scene, Zaspal said.
Neither she nor the driver of the Honda were wearing seat belts, he said.
No arrests were made as the investigation continued.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Officer Renteria of the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs-area office at 562-868-0503.

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San Gabriel Valley cops crack down on DUI over holiday weekend; Azusa police invite public along online


LOS ANGELES COUNTY >> Police throughout the region will be cracking down on drunken and drugged drivers with checkpoints and extra enforcement this Labor Day weekend, with one inviting the public to tag along virtually online.
Whittier, Montebello, Arcadia and Azusa police are each planning checkpoints in their respective cities Friday night into early Saturday, according to the departments.
In Azusa, police will be broadcasting their anti-DUI efforts and answering questions from the public online via Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, Officer Mike Bires said.
Azusa’s “Tweet from the Beat” will take place from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, he said. Follow along at www.facebook.com/AzusaPD, www.twitter.com/azusapd or www.snapchat.com/add/azusapd.
“(Officers will) explain what happens during a traffic stop, share accident investigation information and highlight traffic safety concerns for the city of Azusa,” Azusa police said in a written statement. “In addition to this, the community will be able to ask questions live, while the officers are in the field.
The checkpoints are being funded by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, through the California Office of Traffic Safety.

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March to mark 5th anniversary of fatal shootings of sheriff’s Explorer Scout, friend in South Whittier


SOUTH WHITTIER >> Hundreds of loved ones, family members and fellow Los Angeles County sheriff’s Explorer scouts on Sunday will mark the 5th anniversary of the slaying of an Explorer and another man with a march and candlelight vigil to honor the victims’ lives and renew their call for justice in the unsolved double-homicide.
The march has been held, and grown, each year since Aug. 28, 2011, when 19-year-old Norwalk sheriff’s Explorer Cesar Rodriguez and friend Larry Villegas, 24, both of Whittier, in the 11800 block of Painter Avenue in the unincorporated county area of South Whittier.
0826_NWS_WDN-L-MARCHmugThe group will gather at 7 p.m. at the corner of Laurel and Beaty avenues, organizers said.
During the annual marches, which passes by the scene of the shooting, marchers hand out fliers seeking information on the killings.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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3 DUI suspects jailed during Whittier checkpoint

WHITTIER >> Police in Whittier arrested three suspected drunken drivers during a checkpoint late Friday into early Saturday, officials said.
The checkpoint was held along Colima Road, just south of Whittier Boulevard, according to Whittier police Sgt. David Elizarraras.
“Three motorists were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and one other for outstanding warrants,” he said in a written statement.
Eight other drivers were arrested and released on citations for driving without valid licenses, or driving on suspended or revoked licenses, he added.

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Police to hold checkpoint in Whittier Friday night

WHITTIER >> Police are planning to screen drivers for sobriety and licenses during a checkpoint Friday night, officials said.
The checkpoint will be held from 7 p.m. Friday to 2:30 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within Whittier, Whittier police Sgt. David Elizarraras said in a written statement.
Over the past three years, 327 DUI-related crashes in Whittier have claimed four lives and caused another 148 injuries, the sergeant said.
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, through the California Office of Traffic Safety.

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Man beaten, stabbed along sidewalk in South Whittier

SOUTH WHITTIER >> A man was beaten and stabbed with an ice pick by a group of three attackers as he walked along a South Whittier sidewalk early Wednesday, officials said.
A 25-year-old Montebello man was walking along Mulberry Drive, at Calmada Avenue, about 12:50 a.m. when a dark sedan approached and three attackers got out, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Robin Limon said.
The victim told investigators he was “jumped” by the trio, she said. One of them stabbed him in the torso with an ice pick during the assault.
Paramedics took the injured man to a hospital with injuries not considered to be life-threatening, Limon said.
No further information, including a detailed description of the suspects, were available.

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