Glendora names Castro new chief

Rob Castro, the current captain for the Glendora Police Department, has been selected by City Manager Chris Jeffers to replace outgoing chief Charles Montoya.

The decision is subject to council approval at the Jan. 25 meeting. Jeffers made the announcement today via a written statement.

“Rob showed through a very rigorous process that he has prepared himself on many levels to become a chief of police in today’s environment,” Jeffers said. “I am proud to say he will be Glendora’s chief.”

Montoya officially left his post with the department in December after retiring in 2009. He worked in 2010 under the CALPERS 960 program, but was still able to work full-time while the city searched for a new chief.

Castro said it was a post he had prepared his whole career to achieve.

“I have been preparing for this position for 25 years,” he said in a written statement. “I am deeply devoted to Glendora and it is an honor to be selected as the city’s police chief.”

The department is in charge of 52 sworn personnel and 38 civilian employees. Castro was selected from a pool of 41 applicants.

The selection doesn’t come without some things left to be resolved. A salary for Castro and benefits still must be worked out and approved by the council.

Last year, councilman Doug Tessitor vowed to get rid of administrative leave for city executives when it was reported that Montoya cashed out $80,000 in unused leave time as he often used administrative leave days in place of vacation.

Will the promise be kept with Castro’s contract? Tune in next time to find out…

A new year means a new round of weekend recap

Another long weekend has passed us by and in its wake we are left with a new year, the knowledge that we are back to those grueling five day schedules, and that you probably spent most of the weekend hungover and therefore didn’t want to stare at a computer screen reading stores.

With that knowledge, I offer you a recap of what you missed.

While war rages for U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and plagues them after their return home, the men and women who served feel the rest of the country has lost interest.

On a recent Saturday night, while cruising the city in his patrol car, El Monte police Lt. Chuck Carlson said he hasn’t noticed an increase in crime or gang activity because of the decrease in proactive policing. Nor has the recession – which is largely to blame for El Monte’s city budget woes – sparked an increase in crime, as hard economic times often do.

While it’s not uncommon for a Little League team or a service club to partner with a restaurant to raise money, politicians in Azusa are pioneering a new use for the practice.

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Glendora council candidate connected to allegations of misconduct at Rio Hondo College

Reported in today’s paper that Rio Hondo college is investigating potential problems with its Police Academy beyond a testing breach being investigated by the state.

At the heart of the allegations – that include employees watching porn and improper range training – is the school’s former Dean of Public Safety and the academy’s supervisor Joe Santoro.

Santoro, the former Monrovia Police Chief, is also a Glendora resident that announced his bid for the City Council this week. With his background, both educational and administrative, Santoro was a potential favorite in that election. Now, the fate of that election bid may be directly tied to the outcome of these allegations.

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Who doesn’t believe in comebacks?

I must apologize for the lack of posting on the blog over the last month. As those avid newspaper readers may well know by now, I have been covering the Manling Williams murder trial and subsequent penalty phase (who am I kidding, no one reads bylines).

But as the Thanksgiving holiday has passed and the jury remains in deliberations, we can get this motor running. We can pick ourselves up off the mat and get in the ring.

And what better to reignite this bonfire of city politics and general news blathering than a review of this weekends most important news items. (OK, no more metaphors)

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has completed its investigation into West Covina Police Chief Frank Wills. Wills asked for the review after it was revealed that officers from the West Covina Police Department investigated allegations of vandalism and rape against the ex-husband of Wills’ then-girlfriend.

In El Monte, 108 of the city’s 278 employees received wages topping $100,000 last fiscal year when you account for overtime, benefits and other perks.

The San Dimas Brasada residential project is becoming a reality despite years of push back. The environmental impact report is scheduled to be reviewed in December.

That is all for now. Let’s take this slow. Don’t want to rush it right when we are just getting started again. As for now, I will be waiting on a decision in the Williams’ case. And I want to post something on that later today and talk about the death penalty. Controversy is just what we need to get reacquainted.

Weekend Review: Top News = I’m Back!

My vacation is but a distant abstract in the rear view window of my life and the busy catch-up of this week awaits me.

I hope you all missed me. If not, thanks for the web hits!

This story is just shocking, like something out of a television show. Azusa woman killed in Pomona shooting was key witness in capital gang case. Daily Bulletin reporter (sister paper) Will Bigham does a good job telling the story.

In another Sunday report, Bethania Palma Markus looked at salaries of area police chiefs. A question for the reader folk: What city characteristics are most important when determining the pay for a police chief – population size or amount of crime? If amount of crime, should a city with a higher crime rate pay more for a police chief? or should the city with minimal crime “reward” the police chief?

More to come today as I get back in the saddle, or the wagon, or on track, or whatever – as I get
back, get back to where I once belonged.

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Are police departments abusing their DUI checkpoint privileges?

I can hardly believe the recent events in Baldwin Park.

Last night the council unanimously agreed to suspect all DUI checkpoints due to protesting residents who felt local police were abusing their power.

This is unheard of (by me) to see a council suspend DUI checkpoints and for such protesting to occur.

DUI checkpoints, for most people, have just become a fact of life. Busy weekends, neighborhoods with bars, etc. all bring on the checkpoints proposed to help prevent or catch drunk drivers. Most of the checkpoints are run by local police departments, but are funded by the state through a grant program from the Office of Traffic Safety.

But the reality is most checkpoints don’t catch drunk drivers and while they are hailed as a deterrent, there really is no empirical data to support that assertion.

Opponents often look at the checkpoints as more of a “papers” check, a place where police can happen upon unlicensed, uninsured, unregistered drivers, parolees, people with warrants for arrest, etc.

In fact, most people arrested or that have their cars impounded at checkpoints are of that variety than of the drunk driving group. Vastly.

Here is an editorial from a police Lieutenant defending checkpoints that makes a similar point that even without much DUI arrests, checkpoints serve the health and safety of society.

But is it constitutional?

At a recent Baldwin Park checkpoint leading up to the suspension, 150 cars were impounded but a source said the majority were unrelated to issues of sobriety.

Prior to that, Tom Himes reported about a woman suing the Baldwin Park Police Department for unlawfully impounding her car.

In El Monte last month, police checked more than 2,000 cars, impounded 27 vehicles and made one arrest for driving under the influence.

Those numbers are contradictory to the purpose of checkpoints. In 2005, the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals decision in Miranda v. City of Cornelius established that many impounds are “unreasonable seizures” that don’t jive with the Fourth Amendment.

Still, police departments don’t seem to be listening too closely to the appeals court decision, but this newspaper is.

Editor Frank Girardot took the practice to task in his column here.

The paper’s editorial board also took a stance against the checkpoint structure and system.

More background on the issues in Baldwin Park here.

I think it is safe to say, that in Los Angeles Courty, a system of checkpoints that worked relatively under the radar without critique or oversight is finally getting a dash of its medicine.

What are your thoughts? Is using sobriety as a reason for checkpoints misleading? Should they no longer use the guise of DUI deterrent if they continue checkpoints? Are police officers stepping on the rights of citizens? Or, despite the contradiction between their name and the outcome, do the results of the checkpoints, (i.e. arrests of wanted individuals, impounding vehicles of unlicensed drivers, etc.) outweigh the potential infringement of the Fourth amendment?

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Montebello City Administrator, Police Chief both suddently resign


I have no idea what is going on in Montebello, but some intriguing stuff went down Wednesday night.

The Interim City Administrator and the brand spanking new Police Chief both left their posts. Neither had comment.

MONTEBELLO – Interim City Administrator Randy Narramore and new Police Chief Ken Rulon left their posts with the city Wednesday night.

Narramore was appointed in December to run the city after former Administrator Richard Torres retired. He also served as interim police chief after former Chief Dan Weast left in January under pressure from the City Council.

Rulon was hired this week to replace Narramore as police chief and began his duties on Tuesday.

Narramore declined to comment Thursday, deferring to City Attorney Arnold Alvarez-Glasman, and Rulon didn’t return phone calls seeking comment.

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Violent crime down in largest San Gabriel Valley cities


The amount of violent crime in the San Gabriel Valley’s three most populous cities dropped dramatically last year, reflecting a national trend, according to 2009 crime figures released Monday by FBI.

All three Valley cities of over 100,000 residents — El Monte, Pasadena and West Covina — saw a drop in both violent and property crimes with one exception. El Monte property crime saw an uptick from 2008 to 2009.

Highlights from each of the cities, according to the FBI and police chiefs:

  • West Covina brought back a crime analyst in 2008, which allowed the city to aggressively target certain areas and criminals, Police Chief Frank Wills said.
  • West Covina was also able to keep patrol officers on the streets, but had to cut its S.W.A.T. team to do so, Wills said.
  • Murders in West Covina jumped from three in 2008 to eight in 2009.
  • El Monte Police Chief Tom Armstrong said the drop in murders to three in 2009 from 12 in 2008 is proof that the spike was an aberration.
  • Pasadena had five murders in 2009 compared to three in 2008.

For more, read the story here.

Final note: We keep track of homicides in the San Gabriel Valley, as well as the FBI which relies on data provided by the law enforcement agencies. In some cases, we have a couple more murders than the FBI’s tally. Here are the totals from 2009, and what we have so far for this year. (The map pictured above shows all the 2009 murders across the San Gabriel Valley and Whittier areas.)

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Intimidating tactics in Montebello

MONTEBELLO – Three council members attempted to attend a Montebello Police Officers Association meeting where officers rescinded an endorsement of Councilman Robert Urteaga, officials said.

On a 18-14 vote the MPOA voted Feb. 3 to revoke its political support of Urteaga as a result of a prior felony conviction.

Councilmembers Mary Anne Saucedo-Rodriguez, Kathy Salazar and Mayor Rosie Vasquez tried to influence the decision, according to three MPOA members. The MPOA members asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

Salazar and Saucedo-Rodriguez waited inside the Park and Recreation Center, where the meeting was held, but were asked to leave before the meeting started, the members said. Urteaga was also inside the meeting quarters though he was not near the two councilwoman.

Vasquez could be seen in her car circling the street several times, according to MPOA members.

“They (the council members) said they were there to show support for Robert,” an MPOA member said. “They wanted to intimidate all of us. I have never seen anything like this.”

Terry Francke, president of a government watchdog group Californians Aware, said the council members did not violate the Brown Act because they did not stay for the meeting.

“The problem would start when the actual presentation or discussion starts,” Francke said.

The MPOA’s decision to rescind its endorsement comes after Urteaga’s felony conviction became public in October. In 1998, Urteaga pleaded no contest to grand theft of personal property totaling $30,000, according to court documents.

The criminal complaint filed by the District Attorney’s Office in February 1999 accused Urteaga of five counts of check forgery and one count grand theft. In a July 1999 plea agreement between Urteaga and prosecutors, the forgery counts were dropped by the district attorney.