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.
IRWINDALE >> A small Southern California police department’s colorful effort to combat breast cancer has spread like wildfire, with 44 police agencies from across the region and the nation now joining the campaign by trading their traditional shoulder patches for bright pink versions.
Police are staffing a “Pink Patch Project” booth during the L.A. County Fair at the Fairplex in Pomona this month, where guests can purchase T-shirts, challenge coins, and of course, pink police department patches offered by the dozens of participating agencies, according Irwindale Police Sgt. Rudy Gatto.
The project has been well-received by fellow police officers and the public, Gatto said.
“In just three days at the L.A. County Fair, we have raised upwards of $10,000, (and) that’s just at the fair,” the sergeant said.
Proceeds from the memorabilia sales are being donated to fund cancer research, treatment and education, officials said. Irwindale police first donned their pink patches and made them available for purchase by the public last year. The Irwindale Department was inspired by the Seal Beach Police Department, which gave officers pink patches in 2013 to stimulate conversation and raise awareness during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“That year, the Irwindale Police Department raised over $20,000 for City of Hope,” Irwindale police said in a written statement.
This year, the department reached out to expand the project, Gatto explained. About 20 agencies from the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs’ Association initially joined in, followed by another two-dozen who heard of the project largely via social media outreach.
In addition to dozens of Southern California police agencies, departments as far away as New Mexico and New Jersey have joined the effort by sporting pink. A police sergeant from the Lyndhurst Police Department in New Jersey planned to visit the Punk Patch Project booth at the L.A. County Fair on Sunday, Gatto said.
During Breast Cancer Awareness month in October, officers in participating agencies wear the pink patches in lieu of their usual ones.
The Pink Patch Project is also come as a boon for law enforcement patch collectors, who have seen more and more department’s stop selling their normal department patches to the public in recent years over safety concerns.
For more information, including a list of participating agencies and how to purchase their patches and other memorabilia, visit www.pinkpatchproject.com.
PHOTOS: [ABOVE] Glendora police officials staff the Pink Patch Project booth at the L.A. County Fair in Pomona on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Forty-four police departments from across Southern California and the nation are participating in the Irwindale Police Department’s Pink Patch Project to raise funds and awareness to combat breast cancer. (Courtesy) [BELOW} Pink Patch Project patches. (Courtesy)
EL MONTE >> Police in El Monte are inviting the community to join them for snow cones at three different community meetings at local parks over the next month.
The “Snow Cone With a Cop” events are planned for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday at Zamora Park, 3820 Penn Mar Ave.; July 28th at Mountain View Park, 12127 Elliot Ave.; and Aug. 11 at Mariposa Park, 4140 Gibson Road, city officials said in a written statement.
“The El Monte Police Department invited residents to enjoy a free snow cone and ask questions, voice their concerns and get to know Police Chief David Reynoso and other police officers,” according to the statement.
The first 200 guests will be treated to snow cones.
Police also plan to take the opportunity to introduce residents to their local police officers, under the department’s new “Service Area Policing Model,” the statement said.
For more information, email Sgt. Alex Martinez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MONTEBELLO >> Investigators arrested a former Montebello police corporal Wednesday on a charge of assault under color of authority for slamming a tagging suspect’s head into the pavement during a 2014 arrest, according to authorities, as well as county court and booking documents.
Mark Jason Ryan, 37, is charged with one felony count of assault by a public officer in connection with an alleged on-duty attack, which took place on Halloween of 2014, according to a felony complaint for arrest warrant filed against the former officer April 5 in Los Angeles Superior Court. The charge followed an investigation that lasted more than 17 months.
Los Angles County Sheriff’s Department deputies, who have been investigating the case, arrested Ryan on a warrant about 10 a.m. Wednesday, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court and booking records.
According to the complaint, “(Ryan) assaulted and beat Anthony Acosta under color of authority, the defendant being then and there a public officer, to wit, Montebello Police Department Corporal.”
Ryan responded to a report of two men tagging in the 2100 block of West Whittier Boulevard, district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
While arresting one of the men, “Ryan allegedly slammed one suspect’s head into the pavement,” according to the statement.
Acosta was 26 years old at the time of the alleged attack, records show.
He ultimately pleaded “no contest” to a count of vandalism, and admitted the crime was gang related, and received a one-year prison sentence in March of 2015, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
Prosecutors declined to discussed the level of injury suffered by the alleged victim. Further detail regarding the circumstances of the alleged assault were not available Wednesday afternoon.
Ryan retired from the Montebello Police Department early this year, Montebello Police Chief Kevin McClure said.
The chief declined to comment further regarding the case or the incident, deferring to investigators in the district attorney’s office and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
According to Ryan’s online resume, he left the Montebello Police Department in February after 13 years as an officer, and is now working as a real estate agent. Ryan also served in the U.S. Army from 1999 to 2003, according to the profile.
Ryan served as Montebello Police Officers’ Association president last year.
According to prosecutors and county booking records, Ryan was released on a $35,000 bail bond Wednesday pending his arraignment hearing, scheduled May 4.
If convicted as charged, Ryan faces up to three years in state prison.
ARCADIA >> A homeless man pleaded received a two-year jail sentence Thursday for attacking two Arcadia police officers who approached him about panhandling last July, officials said.
David King Brewster, 25, who is known to frequent the Monrovia area, pleaded “no contest” to a felony charge of battery with injury on a police officer in Pomona Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.
Under the negotiated plea arrangement, an additional charge of battery with injury on a police officer was dismissed, along with two counts of resisting arrest and one count of being under the influence of drugs, Santiago said.
The conviction stems from a July 6 encounter between Brewster and two Arcadia police officers in the 400 block of E. Huntington Drive.
“Brewster choked an officer and punched another as they attempted to talk to him about panhandling in the area,” district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
On the day of the incident, Brewster was booked on suspicion of crimes including attempted murder of a peace before being formally charged with lesser crimes.
The involved officers suffered no major injuries, Santiago said.
Following his plea Thursday, Brewster was immediately sentenced to two years in state prison, to be served in county jail, officials said.
IRWINDALE >> The Irwindale police recognized officers and other personnel for acts ranging from charging toward an active shooter to resuscitating a lifeless baby during the department’s first-ever Employee Awards Banquet Wednesday.
Awards presented included the department’s Medal of Valor, awarded for “an act displaying extreme courage while consciously facing imminent peril”; the Life Saving Award, “when a life is saved or prolonged due to actions taken by an officer”; the Distinguished Service Award, “for performing exceptional service in a duty of great responsibility or of critical importance to law enforcement”; and the Meritorious Service Award, for “meritorious service similar to, but to a lesser degree than required for the Distinguished Service Medal,” Irwindale police officials said in a written statement.
“I just couldn’t be more proud of this department,” Chief Anthony Miranda said. “The men and women of this department are really doing, right now, the right thing for the right reason. That’s all any chief can ask for.”
Since the event was the department’s first awards ceremony, some of the recognitions were long overdue, official said.
Five sworn officers received the Medal of Valor, and a police dispatcher received a Distinguished Service Award for their efforts to stop a Dec. 16, 2011 mass shooting at an Irwindale Southern California Edison Office in which two people were killed and three others injured by a disgruntled coworker.
With the aid of Dispatcher Mariela Avila, Sgt. Greg Gomez, Cpl. Armando Lopez, Detective Jose Vargas, Sgt. Rudy Gatto, Officer Mario Camacho and Officer Jesse Bravo arrived within three minutes, police said.
“Without hesitation, these officers organized a six-person ‘active shooter’ entry team and entered the building,” according to the statement. Upon arrival, they immediately smelled burnt gunpowder and encountered panicked employees trying to flee.
“It is at this moment that each of these officers placed themselves in great danger and faced imminent peril as they closed in on the active shooter,” the statement said. “Dispatcher Mariela Avila was the voice and ears for these officers during this event and was the help the employees calling 9-1-1 needed to hear as she reassured them help was on the way.”
The gunman fatally shot himself as the officers closed in on him, officials said.
More than four years later, the involved officers were yet to be formally recognize for their heroism, Miranda said.
“For whatever reason, it didn’t happen. That didn’t sit right with me. It needed to be done. It really needed to be done,” the chief said.
Wednesday’s ceremony was held at a different SCE facility in Irwindale. SCE Vice President of Business Customer Division Lisa Cagnolatti was on-hand to express the utility’s gratitude to the first responders.
Sgt. John Fraijo and Officer Rudy Campos received Life Saving Awards for helping resuscitate and rescue a lifeless, choking toddler on Jan. 31, 2014. Sgt. Rene Sapien, Officer Joe Hardy and Dispatcher Sherry Peterson received Distinguished Service Awards for their roles in the same rescue.
Officer Rudy Campos received a second Life Saving Award for talking a suicidal man down from a 605 Freeway overpass on Aug. 20, 2014.
Officer Jesus Bravo received a Life Saving Award for performing CPR on a 60-year-old man for more than 10 minutes before paramedics arrived.
Sgt. George Zendejas, Sgt. Rudy Gatto and Officer Diego Cornejo received Meritorious Service Awards for their work to increase the department public outreach through social media and the Internet.
Also recognized were 2015 Officer of the Year Officer Rudy Campos; 2014 Officer of the Year Diego Cornejo; 2015 Civilian Employee of the Year Records Clerk Norma Ortiz and 2015 Civilian Employee of the Year Volunteer Dianna Hurst.
PHOTO courtesy of Glenn Purbaugh/Irwindale Police Department. — Chief Anthony Miranda, center, stands with award winners following the first-ever Irwindale Police Department Employee Awards Banquet on Wednesday, Jan, 27, 2016.
WEST COVINA >> West Covina police are inviting the public to take part in the department’s 10-week Citizens Academy, kicking off next month.
The free classes are held from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. every Thursday at the West Covina Police Department, 1444 West Garvey Ave., with the first meeting on Feb. 4, according to West Covina police Lt. Dave Lee.
“The Citizen Academy offers members of the community an up close and personal look at how the West Covina Police Department operates,” Lee said. “The program brings the community’s civic, business, and religious leaders together to experience firsthand how the West Covina Police Department responds to and investigates crimes in our community.”
Participants will learn about the personnel, tools and techniques involved in all aspects of law enforcement, “including patrol, investigations, Forensics, SWAT and K9 operations to name a few,” he said.
To sign up, or for more information, contact the department at 626-939-8530, or email CitizensAcademy@wcpd.org.
PASADENA >> Tee public is invited to offer comments on the Pasadena Police Department’s developing police body camera policy Monday during a meeting of the Public Safety Committee, officials said.
The meeting will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers, one the second floor of Pasadena City Hall, 100 N. Garfield Avenue.
Police are planning to begin fielding body-worn camera on officers, as well as non-sworn personnel assigned to patrol and jail duties, city officials said in a written statement.
“The City is seeking input from residents and others about possible elements for a new policy such as handling and storage of video recordings; how and when body cameras should be activated or turned off; public access to the recorded videos, and privacy issues,” according to the statement.
Pasadena officials allocated $300,000 to outfit the Pasadena Police Department with body cameras in June, but elected to delay deployment of the cameras pending the development of a policy.
And the city received $250,000 in federal funds for the program in September as part of a $23 million initiative by the Obama administration to outfit police with body cameras throughout the nation.
In a separate but related matter, officials issued a Request for Proposals was issued last week for the hiring of a consultant to study police oversight models for the department, officials said. Responses are due at the city manager’s office by 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 6.
COVINA >> A Covina congregation offered special prayers and blessings Sunday for police, firefighters and others in harms way during a small but heartfelt special mass to honor first responders.
It was the third annual first responders ceremony hosted at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church at 3rd Avenue and Badillo Street, with a strong showing from Covina police, including the family of fallen Covina police Sgt. Scott Hanson. Parishioners also reflected on the sacrifice of Covina police Officer Jordan Corder, killed in an on-duty motorcycle crash less than a year ago on Sept. 30.
Led by the Rev. Steve De Muth and the Rev. William Peyton, the parish asked God’s protection and guidance for those who stand in watch over society.
“It is our sincere hope that by recognizing the work you do, and by offering our prayers and out fellowship, we will strengthen the bonds of community,” De Muth said. “For this is the job of religion, to support one another in our particular vocations to love god and to love our neighbors.”
De Muth cited the book of Isaiah, which calls upon the faithful to “Go set a watchman” to serve as a moral conscience of a society. The verse inspired the title of the recently published sequel to Harper Lee’s, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
He likened the role of first responders to the biblical watchmen.
“Did you know that when an officer dies, they say his watch has ended?” De Muth said.
De Muth also called on the congregation to pray for firefighters and all other first responders who regularly risk their own safety to protect others.
“Be with them today and protect them always as they continue their diligence on the streets of our nation,” Peyton prayed. “For those who have given their lives, we ask that their families are healed and protected from more harm, and that your healing balm may bring them peace.”
Police officers lined up to receive a blessing from the priests. Several offered up their duty belts to be blessed as well.
Officer Hanson’s widow, Allison Hanson, attended the ceremony with her children Sarah and Andrew. Andrew has followed in his father’s footsteps. Having recently graduated a law enforcement academy, the young police officer is now undergoing training with the Glendale Police Department.
Allison said she and her family are grateful for the ongoing show of support from the community.
“To have the department here, and the city, and our family, it’s pretty amazing,” she said.
Sunday’s ceremony coincided with the church’s Feast of St. Michael of All Angeles, De Muth explained.
Following Mass, the church presented attending officers with certificated of appreciation and medallions depicting St. Michael, known as the patron saint of first responders.
“What a blessing it is when our church communities come together to raise up our officers — those who, as Father Steve said, stand watch on our behalf. And we’re so thankful,” Covina Mayor John King said.
“We have officers who care, who stand up on our behalf, and who we should say thank you to every single day,” he said. “God bless each and every one of them.”
PHOTOS: [TOP, BOTTOM] – Courtesy of David Clarke/Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. [CENTER] Staff photo by Brian Day