California Central Valley Police Officer Shot and Killed

Selma police officer shot and killed in line of duty. Suspect arrested

A Selma Police officer was shot and killed by a suspect in the line of duty in a residential neighborhood in the Fresno County city on Tuesday. The fatal shooting occurred around 11:45 a.m. in the 2600 block of Pine Street, just west of Highway 99 and south of Rose Avenue. The officer was rushed to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno but died there later, Selma Police Chief Rudy Alcaraz said in an update near the scene around 4:05 p.m. The officer, who was with the Selma Police for two years, was not immediately identified out of a respect for privacy of the family, Alcaraz said.

FATAL SHOOTING INCIDENT Alcaraz said the incident began when a resident noticed the suspect in the front of the house and called police. The officer arrived and found the suspect, who shot him several times before fleeing. “I’m absolutely outraged,” Alcaraz said. “I’m horrified right now. This is the worst-case scenario. “ The officer did not fire his weapon, Zanoni said. FCSO homicide detectives took over the investigation. In addition to FCSO, law enforcement from the surrounding area — including the U.S. Marshals, California Highway Patrol and police from Fresno, Kingsburg and Parlier — swarmed to the scene and established a perimeter around the location for the investigation.

ARRESTED SUSPECT HAD CRIMINAL PAST Around 12:10 p.m., the suspect was detained after a deputy spotted the suspect near Fig and Sequoia, according to the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. The 23-year-old suspect was taken into custody and a gun was later recovered a short distance from where the man was arrested, the FCSO said. The suspect’s identity was not immediately released.

THE LATEST: Suspect named, details emerge But the sheriff’s office said law enforcement is familiar with the suspect and that he has a criminal background, including charges for firearms possession and robbery. The suspect served time in prison and is currently on probation as part of California’s AB 109 law (prison realignment). According to the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, the suspect was sentenced in March 2022 to serve 5 years, 4 months in prison. But he was eventually released by September 2022 and placed on Post Release Community Supervision, the DA’s office said. “While we mourn this tragic loss and offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the fallen officer,” Fresno County DA Lisa Smittcamp said in a news release, “we must also focus our energy on demanding that our legislators do more to hold criminals accountable for their actions.”

Click here to read the full article at the Fresno Bee

California Deputy Fatally Shot, Suspect Critically Wounded

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California sheriff’s deputy was shot and killed Friday, just two weeks after another deputy in the department was slain in the line of duty.

The deaths of deputies Darnell Calhoun on Friday and Isaiah Cordero on Dec. 29 were the first since 2003 where a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy was killed in the line of duty, Sheriff Chad Bianco said.

The suspect in Calhoun’s death is in custody and was listed in critical condition after a gunbattle with a second deputy, Bianco said Friday during a news conference.

Calhoun was fatally shot in the city of Lake Elsinore, the sheriff said. He died after being taken to the hospital in serious condition.

“I shouldn’t be here tonight having to do this again,” Bianco said Friday outside the hospital. “I’m devastated to tell of the loss of another of our deputy sheriffs who was killed in the line of duty today.”

Calhoun is survived by his pregnant wife, Bianco said. He had previously worked for the San Diego Police Department — the agency said on Twitter it was “devastated” to learn of his death — before transferring to Riverside last year.

“He was the most cheerful, the most positive, the most good, wholesome man you could imagine,” Bianco said.

Calhoun, 30, was the first deputy to arrive at the scene of an disturbance around 4:30 p.m. Friday following a call of “unknown trouble” where voices could be heard in the background, indicating a struggle, Bianco said.

“At this point, we are not completely sure of the circumstances surrounding the initial contact,” Bianco said.

The second deputy found Calhoun wounded in the street and confronted the suspect in a shootout. The suspect’s identity has not been released.

Lake Elsinore is about 55 miles (88 kilometers) southeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Friday’s shooting comes as the sheriff’s department is reeling from Cordero’s death. The 32-year-old was fatally shot last month during a traffic stop in the city of Jurupa Valley, east of Los Angeles.

Cordero had pulled over a pickup truck and the driver, 44-year-old William Shae McKay, shot the deputy as he approached the vehicle. Law enforcement pursued McKay in a manhunt that included a chase along freeways in two counties, authorities said.

McKay was killed during a shootout with deputies after the truck crashed.

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco and Cordero’s family have called for the resignation of a Southern California judge who allowed McKay’s release from custody on bail despite his lengthy criminal history.

Click here to read the full article at AP News

Criticism of judge in the killing of a Riverside County deputy not so clear, legal experts say

Experts also chide the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office for lack of a forceful argument against reducing bail for William McKay

It’s every judge’s nightmare: San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Cara D. Hutson reduced bail for a career criminal awaiting sentencing on a third strike, allowing him to secure his release and then go on to allegedly kill a sheriff’s deputy.

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco lambasted Hutson after the Dec. 29 killing of Deputy Isaiah Cordero and called for the judge to resign. So, too, did Cordero’s mother, Rebecca, receiving thunderous applause at the fallen deputy’s memorial service on Friday.

“Judge Cara Hutson,” she said, “my family is devastated. My son was a good man. My family, Isaiah’s brothers and sisters and his community demand your resignation.”

But an analysis of court documents and interviews with legal experts shows there’s more to the story.

Law experts say Hutson made a legally plausible decision to reduce bail, although probably not a practical one. And they don’t believe  Hutson should surrender her robes. They also found fault with the prosecution in the case.

‘Bad judgment call’

“It’s a bad judgment call, but not legally unreasonable,” said Rudy Loewenstein, a veteran Orange County defense lawyer and a former deputy district attorney.

Suspected gunman William Shae McKay, 44, was killed in a shootout with police after allegedly gunning down Cordero, 32, during a traffic stop in Jurupa Valley. Cordero received a hero’s funeral Friday while the public puzzled over why McKay was not behind bars under California’s “three strikes” law at the time of the shooting.

Acquitted of kidnapping

In November 2021, McKay appeared for a nonjury trial before Hutson, who was appointed to the San Bernardino County Superior Court bench in 2007 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The judge, a Democrat, previously worked as a deputy district attorney from 1994 until her appointment to the newly created seat on the bench. She was unopposed for reelection in 2022.

Hutson found McKay guilty of false imprisonment, making threats likely to result in great bodily injury, evading arrest and receiving stolen property, resulting in a third strike and leaving him susceptible to a sentence of 25 years to life. She acquitted him of two more serious kidnapping charges and reduced his bail accordingly from $950,000 to $500,000 — which McKay told the judge he could not afford.

Asked by Hutson for her input, San Bernardino County Deputy District Attorney Tess Ponce offered this brief opposition: “Your Honor, I think given the change of circumstances and given — just given the stakes I was going to say no bail should be appropriate. I’ll submit to the court.”

McKay ended up making bail pending his sentencing and a motion for a new trial, but he failed to show up in October 2022 for a court date and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Before he failed to appear, McKay was arrested again by Fontana police on a drug charge, but was released after bailing out, authorities confirm. There is no law that would have prohibited McKay from being released on bond again.

$500,000 bail ‘significant’

Legal experts said the $500,000 bail set by Hutson was not inappropriate.

“The judge heard the testimony and adjusted the bail after finding (McKay) not guilty of the most serious charges, and $500,000 is a significant bail,” said Katherine Tinto, director of the criminal justice clinic at the UC Irvine Law School. “According to the transcript, the district attorney did not put up a strong objection to the $500,000 bail.”

Added Tinto: “There’s no indication the judge didn’t do what a judge is supposed to do: evaluate the facts, evaluate the criminal history and consider bail.”

Lawrence Rosenthal, a professor at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law, also reviewed the transcript of the bail hearing, obtained by the Southern California News Group.

“All we get from the prosecution is a single sentence (opposing bail). There is nothing in the way of a coherent argument there,” said Rosenthal, a former federal prosecutor. “My overall reaction is that the prosecution’s handling of this matter was far from satisfactory. … I don’t think the judge’s handling of this was perfect, but the prosecution should have pushed the judge.”

Jacquelyn Rodriguez, a spokesperson for the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, responded: “Regardless of criticism, the bottom line is we objected to the reduction of bail, we asked for no bail.”

Details of the case

According to the records, McKay was accused of kidnapping Lisa Little, an acquaintance who had bailed him out of jail previously and cooked for him occasionally.

In March 2021, Little told San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies she was asked by McKay to house-sit and feed his dogs while he was in custody on an unrelated case.

The house was burglarized while she was briefly gone and McKay accused her of being involved. Prosecutors alleged McKay punched her in the face, took her purse, keys, credit cards and cellphone, and dragged her to his garage. He also took the car she was driving, which turned out to be stolen.

McKay tied her hands and feet with duct tape, in view of two accomplices, according to the prosecution’s presentencing report. The woman was taken to various parts of the house, while McKay and the others made purchases on her credit cards, records allege.

At times, duct tape was placed over the woman’s mouth and she was punched. She eventually broke free of her restraints and ran to a neighbor’s house, where she called police.

Later that month, the California Highway Patrol tried to pull McKay over for driving a stolen vehicle, but he led officers on a 20-mile pursuit. He and a passenger, Abrianna Valerie Gonzalez, abandoned the car when it became disabled and fled on foot, armed with knives. They were arrested after Gonzalez stabbed a police dog, which had to be airlifted to a hospital, the CHP said at the time.

Victim hands ‘not clean’

After McKay’s trial, the prosecutor disclosed that she had just discovered there was a federal indictment against the victim — allegedly for transporting fentanyl — an indictment that McKay could have used to impeach Little’s testimony. Before rendering her verdict, Hutson acknowledged that Little may not have been entirely credible.

“The Court knows that Ms. Little’s hands are not clean. I’ll just leave it that way. So she’s not an angel to this Court,” Hutson said. “That is going to be considered within the ruling and verdicts that I am going to give.”

Hutson dismissed two counts of kidnapping and kidnapping to commit rape or robbery, saying the victim was not moved a significant distance to qualify for the charges. But Hutson found McKay guilty of the other crimes.

“Here’s the problem which Mr. McKay has reiterated to the Court on more than one occasion. The way he lives his life is not necessarily the way of the legal system,” the judge said. “In this instance, the Court knows beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. McKay decided to take matters into his own hands and dispense his brand of street justice.”

‘Not going nowhere’

McKay, acting as his own attorney, then asked the judge to reset his bail.

“I’ve learned a valuable lesson in all this. I’m not going nowhere,” McKay pleaded with the judge.

Hutson told McKay that the bail schedule for false imprisonment was $500,000.

“I will not release you (on your own recognizance) because the verdict is in and I have to always be mindful of the fact that you are still looking down the barrel of a life sentence,” Hutson told him. “And so I must keep bail at $500,000 now … because the verdict has changed, circumstances have changed and I have adjusted the bail to those circumstances.”

Hutson knew when she made her ruling that McKay had two prior strikes.

Prior strikes

The first strike was a 1999 felony conviction for assault with a firearm. He was sentenced to three years in state prison. In that crime, McKay was contacted by police during a traffic stop, but quickly accelerated to get away. He led police on a 100-mph chase, driving through a Caltrans work zone and sending crews scattering to get out of the path of his vehicle, records show.

When the car became disabled, McKay fled with a gun in his hand. After initially disobeying orders to drop the gun, McKay finally tossed it aside and surrendered to police, records show.

The second strike was related to a February 2005 attack — while he was still on parole from the first conviction. A couple was in their bed when McKay and an accomplice kicked down their door, turned on the light and began beating them with objects from the room, records state.

Click here to read the full article in the Press Enterprise

2 Fallen El Monte Officers Honored As ‘Brave Men’ at Vigil

Hundreds of San Gabriel Valley residents joined Saturday evening with public servants to unite at a vigil with family members of two slain El Monte police officers, who were remembered for their bravery and commitment to the community.

The sudden, violent loss of the two respected officers, Cpl. Michael Domingo Paredes, 42, and Officer Joseph Anthony Santana, 31 — both killed when they encountered a gunman inside the Siesta Inn on Garvey Avenue on Tuesday, June 14 — has shaken the overwhelmingly Latino community in the heart of the San Gabriel Valley.

“It’s unfortunate it takes tragedy to bring the community together. However, I am grateful that we are here to mourn the lives of these two brave men,” Mayor Jessica Ancona told the mourners Saturday gathered at the city’s Civic Center.

“They pursued their dreams and they did it with you — the family and the community,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, speaking in Spanish and English. “The community is standing with you.”

The pair of beloved officers were responding to a call about a possible stabbing just before 5 p.m. the day they died, officials said. They immediately came under gunfire and were taken to LAC + USC Medical Center, where they died. The suspect they encountered, Justin Flores, 35, also died in a shootout with police.

Both officers, raised in El Monte, had a strong connection to the community, according to  mourners who added to a collection of flowers and messages of thanks at the police station this week.

Paredes had served as a full-time officer with the department since July 2000, working several specialized assignments before achieving the rank of corporal, officials said. He started his law enforcement career as a cadet with El Monte police.

Santana initially joined the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department in September 2018 and worked at  the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Sgt. M. Higgins, a SBCSD spokeswoman said. He was hired by the El Monte Police Department in 2021. He also previously worked with the city as a part-time public works employee prior to his law enforcement career.

He leaves behind his wife, a daughter and two twin boys.

Paredes also leaves behind his wife, a daughter and a son.

Olga Garcia, the mother of Santana, earlier this week described him as a reserved person who shared his relentless, cutting sense of dry humor with those he was close with. He liked to play basketball, was generous with his time when off-duty and always eager to help a friend in need.

While growing up, Santana looked up to his stepfather, who was also an El Monte police officer, his mother said. That relationship inspired him to pursue a career in law enforcement.

Like Santana, Paredes was also compelled to give back to the city that raised him, his uncle, Tony Paredes, said. He said that, as a child, the El Monte officer was kind,  attentive and respected his elders.

He recalled when his nephew approached him about joining the police academy in the late ’90s and asked him to write a letter recommending the then-aspiring officer to the department.

Mayor Ancona was teary Saturday night and earlier this week, as were many others throughout town, as she explained how the sudden, violent deaths of the city’s sons has left her community reeling.

“Heartbroken doesn’t begin to express the loss that we feel,” Ancona said Tuesday night. She noted both officers were “essentially ambushed while trying to keep a family safe.”

El Monte City Councilwoman Victoria Martinez Muela at the vigil offered condolences to the officers’ families.

When thinking about what she wanted to say Saturday, she started thinking about what provides comfort.

“A blanket,” said Martinez Muela. And like one beautiful tapestry, “all of us our own unique thread. But woven together we are so strong.”

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Berkeley Pledges to Refund the Police While Also Embracing Law Enforcement Alternatives and Violence Prevention

Berkeley leaders are jumping back into the debate about crime and policing nearly two years after councilmembers called for defunding law enforcement, but this time the political landscape is different.

City councilmembers want to divert more nonviolent 911 calls from police and fund more violence prevention programs, but they’re also pledging to add more police officers, citing pressure from constituents worried about violent crime. A similar debate is playing out in Oakland and San Francisco.

On Thursday, the City Council approved Mayor Jesse Arreguín’s $5.3 million plan to fund more efforts to reimagine public safety and reform the police. The city will now expand violence prevention programs and kick off a process to create more police alternatives to respond to mental health calls. At the same time, the council also agreed to restore 30 of the police department’s frozen positions — a move pushed by several councilmembers.

Mayor Jesse Arreguín called the vote an “important milestone” and said that Berkeley can be a model for other cities.

“A lot of the conversation nationally has been focused on ‘defunding’ or abolishing or cutting the police department,” said Arreguín, who was a big proponent of cutting the department’s budget two years ago. “We refunded and we also expressed support for other approaches. We found a balance.”

The votes come nearly two years after Berkeley made headlines when leaders pledged to slash the police department’s budget in half.

In fact, the city ended up cutting about 12% of its police budget by freezing 30 positions. At the time, all city departments were required to find cost-saving measures because of pandemic deficits. The department accounts for nearly 40% of the city’s general fund with a nearly $73 million budget that will grow to about $80 million in the next fiscal year. The department currently has about 150 filled positions.

City leaders in Berkeley and Oakland say that police should focus more on violent crime and that most of their time is taken up with low-level calls. One way to free up officers — and potentially cut down on racial disparities in policing — is to move traffic enforcement away from cops. More than a year ago, Berkeley approved a plan for sweeping law enforcement reforms, including changes to traffic stops, but some of the plan has been stymied by limitations in state law.

While councilmembers said they feel pressure from constituents worried about violent crime, there isn’t a clear increase in homicides. Berkeley has recorded two homicides this year compared to none last year and five in 2020. Still, council members said Thursday they received nearly 900 emails from constituents urging them to hire more cops.

Dan Lindheim, a professor at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy and a member of the city’s reimagine task force, said Thursday’s debate focused too much on police staffing.

“If this is the net result of a reimagining process in which Berkeley seems to be interested in reducing the footprint of policing, to fully fund the police seems like a bizarre result,” he said.

In parts of the East Bay, violent crime has disproportionately impacted Black and brown neighborhoods. Councilmembers in Oakland and Berkeley who represent those areas have called for more police. Council Member Terry Taplin, who represents part of South Berkeley, said a homicide occurred in his district earlier this week and that he’s tired of being lectured by “more privileged communities” that aren’t facing the same safety concerns.

Taplin told The Chronicle gun violence has impacted him personally. He said he’s had friends, cousins and loved ones murdered and so he’s “really eyeing these proposals with a lot of scrutiny.”

“How does keeping our police positions frozen improve my ability to protect my residents?” Taplin said.

Taplin ended up voting for the mayor’s proposal after Arreguín added several amendments that committed to restaffing the police department and allocated more funding to a new department of Office of Race, Equity and Diversity to study disparities in all city departments. The city manager will bring a proposal to the council to restore the positions over the next few weeks.

Berkeley is already working to launch a team of social workers and civilians — run by a nonprofit — to respond to some mental health and homelessness calls, part of a Bay Area trend to launch alternative policing teams of unarmed civilians. But the mayor’s plan approved Thursday would create a new office of community safety to eventually house the city’s different police alternatives.

Arreguín said the city’s efforts to rethink policing has been slow and methodical on purpose.

“Some cities have rushed into making decisions, some have backed away from reimagining,” he said. “We’ve taken our time and really given this serious thought.”

Arreguín said his plan lays out a framework for how “reimagining public safety” priorities can be implemented.

The city will also begin transitioning two aspects of traffic enforcement — collision analysis and crossing guards — from the police department to public works.

Arreguín’s proposal also commits funds to violence prevention and youth services among other programs and directs city staff to explore creating a team of unarmed community mediators.

The City Council will have to vote next month on how to fund Arreguín’s proposal, which will take several years to fully implement.

Still, not all councilmembers were on board. Council Members Lori Droste and Rashi Kesarwani voted against the mayor’s proposal.

Click here to read the full article at SF Chronicle

Hundreds Turn Out To Honor HB Officer Nicholas Vella At Honda Center Memorial Service

Hundreds of police officers from all over California gathered at the Honda Center in Anaheim today to honor their fallen comrade Nicholas Vella, the Huntington Beach police officer who died in the line of duty on February 19 when the HBPD helicopter he was flying crashed offshore in Newport Beach.

The nearly four-hour memorial service was a homage to Officer Vella’s character, love of family, devotion to law enforcement and community, given by his family and fellow officers.

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Orange, Kevin Vann, presided over the memorial service inside the Honda Center. Vella was eulogized by a procession of family and fellow officers.

One of Vella’s friends and fellow officer, Francisco Jimenez, told the assembled throng how Vella always “sticking up for the little guy, the underdog.”

“Nick hated bullies and wanted to protect those who were not able to protect themselves. Protecting people was in Nick’s DNA, and he loved helping others,” said Jimenez. “So it’s easy to see why Nick decided to take the path that he did.”

A common theme in every eulogy was Vella’s smile.

“Every time you saw him, he had this infectious smile on his face,” recalled Jimenez. “That smile, that little smirk with those sad puppy dog eyes, looking at you that smile that I can’t get out of my head. And I will never forget.”

READ: Huntington Beach Police Chopper Crashes In Water In Newport; One Officer Dead, Another Seriously Injured

Vella’s father-in-law, Ron Tovar, spoke of how Vella changed his family when he married Tovar’s daughter Kristi.

“When he came into our family, he just changed our family. It became different. Right away, he became a stable pillar,” said Tovar. “He always just had this peaceful thing about him. He showed us by way of his actions and his deeds. He demonstrated honesty, integrity and patience.”

Tovar talked about Vella’s special devotion to his teenage daughter Dylan, and what he did, few days before his death, to make Valentine’s Day special for her.

“He went to Dylan’s school and stood there in the parking lot with a rose. To give to Dylan,” said Tovar. “I wish I would have thought of that when my kids were in school. But how heartfelt. How loving. How caring.”

Read the full article at the OC Independent

California Is Swimming In Money. How Will Gavin Newsom Spend California’s Budget Surplus?

For the second year in a row, California’s budget is poised to avoid economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, leaving Gov. Gavin Newsom with a good problem: how to spend a projected $31 billion surplus.

By Monday, Newsom must unveil his proposal for the 2022-23 fiscal year, which starts July 1. His proposal will kick off months of negotiations with lawmakers, who face a June 15 deadline to pass a budget.

Analysts predict the state’s highest earners will continue to prosper and pay high taxes, resulting in another big surplus. The budget Newsom signed last summer included a projected $80 billion surplus, which allowed lawmakers to provide COVID-19 relief and send stimulus checks to millions of Californians.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office has recommended that lawmakers appropriate no more than $3 to $8 billion in new ongoing spending, and use the rest on one-time expenses that won’t force cuts in the future when there’s less cash available. The office also advocated for lawmakers to add to reserve accounts in anticipation of leaner budget years in the future.

Newsom has said he wants to use most of the extra money for one-time spending on areas including budget reserves, pension debt and the social safety net. He has also suggested more stimulus checks could be on the table.

“I think that’s the approach: fiscally disciplined, recognizing this is not a permanent state, recognizing the one-time nature of most of these dollars,” Newsom said in November.

MORE POLICE FUNDING

In November, after a spate of high-profile retail thefts, Newsom announced that his 2022 budget proposal will “substantially” increase funding for cities to crack down on organized retail crime.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who leads the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety, said she thinks addressing retail theft makes sense, but wants to see specifics.

“We need to do something to deter those crimes and hold people accountable,” the Bell Gardens Democrat said. “I want to see the details and see that the funding is used effectively and not just padding departments.”

She said she also wants to see more money in the budget to change a culture of hazing in California prisons.

Last year, The Bee reported on two California State Prison-Sacramento officers who died after reporting harassment, hazing and corruption by their colleagues. One officer’s death was ruled a suicide. The other died of a fentanyl overdose. Since then, the state has moved to fire two officers and discipline 10 other employees at the prison.

Garcia also pointed to the case of a prisoner who was tortured and beheaded by his cellmate, which officers failed to report for hours.

“Breaking the law and being in jail shouldn’t be a death sentence,” Garcia said. “Being an officer shouldn’t be a death sentence either.”

MORE MONEY FOR SCHOOLS

Newsom intends to steer more money toward screenings for dyslexia and add more funding for early education, he told The Sacramento Bee in an interview last month. Newsom has dyslexia and wrote a book last year inspired by his struggle to read because of the condition.

He said his proposal will aim to help kids who “start behind.”

“We did a lot more last year than we did the prior year, and this year’s budget’s gonna see a hell of a lot more, forgive my language,” he said. He also said he wants to expand literacy programs through First 5, a state program for kids under 5.

Click here to read the full article at the Sacramento Bee

Hundreds of San Diego Police Officers Unvaccinated as City prepares To Impose Mandate

The city plans to send notices of termination to employees who are not in compliance

SAN DIEGO — Brandon Gibson knows just how serious COVID-19 is. He beat back the disease two months ago.

“It kicked my butt,” he said. Yet he quit the San Diego police force earlier this month after 10 years because he is not ready to get the vaccine, an imminent condition of employment for city workers.

“I am not an anti-vaxer,” Gibson, 45, said in a recent interview.

He appreciates science, he said, but he has concerns about serious side effects — which health officials say are rare — and doesn’t agree with the city’s mandate.

People rallied against a vaccine mandate for law enforcement officers and firefighters at San Diego’s Civic Center Plaza on Oct. 22.
(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

“It’s really infringing on our freedoms,” he said. “It’s my body; it’s my choice.”

So he quit.

Whether Gibson will be an outlier among the San Diego Police Department’s 1,982 rank-and-file officers will soon be evident. Wednesday is the deadline for all city employees to show proof of vaccination or request a religious or medical exemption.

According to city figures, around 60 percent of officers were vaccinated as of Nov. 17.

Mayor Todd Gloria on Monday will ask the City Council to move forward with the mandate, which the city announced in late August, despite an impasse with the San Diego Police Officers Association over the requirements.

Click here to read the full article at the San Diego-Union Tribune

Black Friday ‘Flash Mob’ Robberies Put LAPD on Tactical Alert

Los Angeles police late Friday were on citywide tactical alert after a wave of smash-and-grab “flash mob” robberies at high-end stores.

And in Lakewood, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department detectives were investigating a possible smash-and-grab robbery at a Home Depot after people stormed into the store Friday night and fled with sledgehammers and bolt cutters, according to authorities and a store employee.

The Los Angeles Police Department declared the alert around 8:30 p.m. Friday and lifted it at 2 a.m. Saturday. The alert followed a string of robberies in the area early in the evening, including an incident at 5:30 p.m. in which at least 10 men robbed a store at 130 S. La Brea Ave., pushed employees onto the ground and fled, said LAPD Officer Mike Lopez.

Lopez said that another attempted robbery on La Brea Avenue around 5:30 p.m. ended with an employee being sprayed with some kind of chemical agent, and another robbery was carried out at gunpoint in the 7800 block of Melrose Avenue.

Los Angeles police also took three people into custody Friday afternoon in the area of Melrose Avenue and Gardner Street after pulling over a vehicle for a traffic violation and spotting clothing with security tags “in plain sight,” connected to another theft, Lopez said.

Friday’s tactical alert follows a series of robberies in which groups have swooped in on stores across Los Angeles — including a Nordstrom at the Grove shopping center and several stores at the Beverly Center in the Beverly Grove neighborhood — and fled with thousands of dollars in merchandise.

Three people have been arrested in connection with the incident at Nordstrom on Tuesday, where as many as 20 people stole $5,000 worth of merchandise after smashing a display window, police said.

Click here to read the full article at LA Times

Inside a Weekly Crime Briefing at the LAPD

In the middle of Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore’s command-level crime briefing Monday, Police Commissioner Dale Bonner — who was sitting in on the closed-door meeting — chimed in with a question.

Bonner was looking at printouts of crime figures and wasn’t sure whether the percentages in red ink reflected increases over 2020, when killings and shootings were already elevated, or 2019, before violence spiked in Los Angeles and cities across the country.

Moore made it clear: The increases — including a 17% rise in homicides — were over the 2020 figures. Compared with 2019, Moore said, the uptick was even starker.

“They’re compounding,” Moore said of city killings. “Homicides are up 17%, and people will say, ‘Well, many other cities are actually higher.’ But when we look over a two-year period, they’re up 49%.”

Each Monday, Moore convenes a small group on the 10th floor of LAPD headquarters downtown to go over the latest trends in city crime. The briefing gives Moore a better idea of where the department is making progress, he said, and where it is losing ground.

After a decade of success in driving down violent crime such as killings and shootings, Moore and the others in the room have seen the progress fade away since last year, with more and more red ink on their printouts. The latest briefing, which Moore allowed The Times to observe, offered no reprieve.

Walking into the room, each commander — including Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala, who oversees operations in the department’s four bureaus; Assistant Chief Robert Marino, who oversees special operations; and Moore’s chief of staff, Deputy Chief Daniel Randolph — received charts breaking down crime by geographic area and over time. They also got statistics on crime the department has deemed gang-related, crime linked to the homeless population and crime linked to domestic violence — three categories that have seen upticks in recent years.

Atop their packets was a four-page “Talking Points” document, the first line of which calculated killings.

“There were 10 homicides this past week vs. 3 for the same week last year,” it read.

At the bottom of the page were statistics on shootings. There had been 1,202 shooting victims this year as of the morning briefing, an increase of nearly 20% over the 1,007 at the same point in 2020 and nearly 50% over the 802 at the same point in 2019.

Click here to read full article from LA Times