Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Report out from SARA Meeting: 2/10/09

Although I didn't attempt to take exhaustive notes on every aspect of last night's SARA meeting, I did jot down a couple interesting points. If you were at the meeting and can provide augmentation or correction, please do so. Lots of comment-worthy stuff here.

A spirited crowd of about 18 residents joined five members of the Pomona Police Department for a one hour and 25 minute SARA meeting for Neighborhood Watch groupies.

1. Acting Chief Kettle is engaging in some intentional -- and, dare I say, impressive -- shifts in organizational structure. (Does anyone know if his name is spelled Kettle or Keetle -- it sounds like the latter, but internet hits find the former.) I'm particularly excited about his Area Commander Concept. Our fair city is now divided into quadrants (with the Garey and Holt serving as the diving lines). Each of the four Watch Commanders will serve as the go-to person for questions and concerns about one of the quadrants.

The Acting Chief will invite the Watch Commanders to the next SARA meeting (March 10 @ 7PM) so they can introduce themselves. I'd love to see 15 minutes of the meeting dedicated to break-out groups where those of us in each quadrant can meet our Watch Commander.

2. 832 (!) properties in Pomona are now in the process of foreclosure. Holy smokes. For the Neighborhood Watch peeps of Pomona, this means we need to keep an eye out for suspicious people in abandoned houses and buildings, evidence of occupied garages, etc. If you see anything suspicious, call the PD. If you see un-mowed or browning grass OR if you see conditions that impact health and safety, call Code Compliance (620-2374). The city website evidently houses a form/checklist we can use to help report these sorts of issues; I can't find it. If you know where it is, please post a comment.

3. Speaking in my best Kai Ryssdal voice, "let's do the numbers." The month of January brought us:

* 55 incidents of shots heard (up from 48 in December -- I think it was 48, my handwriting is pretty messy on this one)

* 30 robberies (27 in December)

* 19 assaults (23 in December)

* 146 burglaries (136 in December); note, these numbers include auto, commercial, and residential burglaries.

* 90 stolen vehicles (70 in December)

* 39 stolen vehicles recovered by Pomona PD (32 in December) [APPLAUSE!]

* 43 stolen vehicles recovered by other agencies (33 in December) [THREE CHEERS FOR COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS!]

4. Graffiti: The reprise. Responding to some confusion in the wake of last month's SARA meeting, we revisited the issue of who to call about graffiti. Here's the low down:

* We can call graffiti abatement at 620-2265 to remove graffiti. They WILL take photographs, but it can take some time for those photographs to work their way into the hands of investigators.

* Or, we can report graffiti to the police department: 622-1241. This approach leads to quicker investigation. AND, calling the PD can result in a police report being filed (which I think is a good thing). The responding officer will take pictures.

5. Youth Services Unit. Over the past two years, the Youth Services Unit has made between 150 - 200 arrests based on reports from citizens and businesses about graffiti [APPLAUSE!]. Did you know "gang graffiti" and "tagging" are often two separate beasts? I did not know this, and I'm probably going to screw up the distinction, but here goes.

Gang graffiti is...well...gang related; individuals who create gang graffiti intend to intimidate citizens and mark turf; investigations concerning gang graffiti fall under the purview of the gang detectives. Taggers, on the other hand, seek fame and notoriety. Some, though not all, taggers are involved in gangs.

6. Shoe fly. I often wonder if there is any truth to the story that shoes hanging on utility wires signal the presence of a drug dealer. Officer Jon Edson of the Youth Services Unit explained this is not the case, though some youth will toss shoes to the horizontal targets in hopes of making people believe there are drug dealers nearby. If you see shoes hanging from utility wires, call the utility department to request removal: 620-2241.

7. The Community Programs office is hoppin'. During the month of January they attended 13 Neighborhood Watch meetings, attended 1 Business Watch meeting [Sidebar: How many business watch groups are there in town?], conducted 1 security inspection, and provided 2 presentations.

8. Citations and Violations. The month of January saw 1590 citations, 407 vehicle impounds, and 2206 parking citations.

9. Stealth policing. In the ongoing struggle to police a large city with limited resources, the PD makes clever and efficient use of technology, including stealth technology. A couple stealth radar monitoring devices exist which "watch" traffic in a given area around the clock. The monitor provides police with data about the times of days when that street tends to see the worst offenders and the most offenders. After collecting these data, the police put up those nifty feedback signs that flash to tell you when you're exceeding the speed limit. Ooh, the PD also has a nifty car with a mounted automatic license plate reader. [Side bar: I need a mnemonic for how to spell license -- any tips?]

10. Checking in on check points. The issue of check points came up. Verbal and non-verbal signals from the attendees at last night's meeting indicated general approval of the use of checkpoints. Note: Starting in March, we can expect two check points per month.

11. If you've got questions, they've got answers. The PD would like to figure out an efficient mechanism for alerting the SARA meeting organizers about citizen concerns prior to the SARA meetings. Having a heads-up about questions or issues would allow the PD time to look into the concerns and respond in the meeting. The current practice is: "a question this month gets an answer next month."

So, if you plan to attend the next SARA meeting, please either e-mail your Civilian Service Officer OR post a comment to the blog thread titled "Issues to discuss at March 10 SARA meeting" (I'll post this thread in a couple days). I'll be sure to send these questions to Brian Haggerty one week prior to the SARA meeting.

12. Que SARA SARA. The next SARA meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 10 at 7:00 PM.


  1. So if I understand these numbers correctly, 48 cars were impounded at a dui checkpoint, but Pomona PD averaged 12 impounds each day in January. I wonder about the data on traffic accidents and driving-related violations involving unlicensed drivers, that might lead the PD to be adamant about the checkpoints. Its hard for me to have an opinion when I feel I'm in the dark about the magnitude of the problem.

    If we call the police about graffiti, are we pulling a patrol officer off the streets to respond to a graffiti call? Just curious. I'm questioning the value of the police report just for the sake of the police report, since the graffiti arrests suggest the PD is currently successful as arresting taggers (unless they are requesting that we directly call the PD).

    Sorry PiGP, you don't have to answer these questions, I'm just thinking with my fingers. Thanks for the summary!!

  2. I forgot to ask one more question: I have never seen a the flashing sign that tells me I'm speeding. I've seen Claremont's, but in my five years of living in Pomona, nope, never! I have seen a sign asking people to slow down, but it wasn't activated by speeding. Has anyone seen this sign?

  3. Hmmm. I haven't seen the sign either -- maybe he was describing the "slow down" sign and I assumed he was describing the Claremont-like signs I pass regularly (one along San Jose between San Antonio and Indian Hill and one on Mountain between Foothill and Butte). Does anyone know what device follows the stealth device (which, by the way, is evidently portable so the PD can relocate the machines to trouble areas -- I think that is so darn cool)?

  4. Actually, we had the sign here on Monroe while they were evaluating whether to consider making us a cul-de-sac. With only two of them in the entire city, it's not so unusual that we don't see them more often, especially if they're being used to check residential streets.

  5. I think we might want to buy a few more. Claremont and San Dimas have been using Safe Routes to School funds to purchase speed-sensing radar signs. I've been planning to do a post about them for awhile, but distractions, distractions!

    The stealth device sounds cool. Of course, I'm still thinkin' the radar signs are stealth devices.