Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hola y Hello: A tool for translation

The Garfield Park Neighborhood Watch group met today. Although "child safety" served as the primary focus of the meeting (I'll post the presentation if we obtain permission to do so), the tidbit of information I found most exciting is that the Crime Prevention Unit has a nifty broadcast system to help translate meetings conducted in one language into another language. A translator translates the meeting; her or his words are broadcast into earphones worn by people who speak the second language.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Big woot for widgets

I've spent wayyyyy too much time surfing the internet for exciting widgets to add to the blog. In particular, I'm looking for a tool we can use to make our SARA meeting wish list (instead of the list being connected to a particular post that moves down the page, I'd love for it to hold a stable spot on the page). No luck just yet. But, I did find two other widgets I think might be useful in our efforts to bite crime and build community.

In the upper right corner you will find a single-item poll. If you have a question you'd like to see answered via the poll, drop me a note.

A second widget appears in the middle right of the page -- Pomona in the news. Some interesting feeds coming through there.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pomona Press Releases: Come out, come out, wherever you are

I know our fair city puts out press releases. I see them referenced in papers, radio broadcasts, and the like. Yet, poking around the city web page, I can't seem to find a listing of all press releases.

Sure, there's the link on the city's homepage, but the page shows only the happy-sunny press releases -- exciting grants, Pomona becoming a Tree City USA, etc. I guess "press release" translates roughly to "public relations."

Where's the more gritty stuff? The stuff appropriate for a crime blog (play theme music now -- OK, so we don't have any theme music just yet; feel free to pitch your wares)?

I recall a few months ago searching for information about the officer-involved shooting the took place right next to Garfield Park. I talked with an investigator at the LA County Sheriff's Dept; he told me I could find info in the press release. I couldn't find it, and I was highly motivated to do so given all of us on the park were really freaking out about all the crime tape and the many police and sheriff cars on the block.

So, I'm going to add an issue to the "wish list" for the SARA meeting -- tell me where to find press releases. In the meantime, here's a story from the Contra Costa Times (yeah, I hadn't heard of 'em either); hey look, they got their info from a press release -- more evidence press releases exist ...somewhere:


POMONA - Police officers with assistance from other law enforcement agencies have arrested a 29-year-old man suspected of killing an acquaintance in December.

Ruben Michael Alvarez was arrested in the 500 block of Wild Rye Court in Hemeton Friday at 3 p.m., according to a Pomona police news release.

Alvarez was spotted by agents with the State Parole Board and U.S. Marshals Office at a home on that street, according to the release.

The Pomona resident was taken into custody after Parole agents, Marshals and Hemet police officers surrounded the house.

Alvarez was arrested after he and other residents in the house came out.

He was returned to Pomona where he was booked into Pomona City Jail on suspicion of murder. He is being held in lieu of $2 million bail.

The victim, George Antonio Tamayo, 46, of Pomona was found shot to death in a vacant apartment in the 700 block of East End Avenue at 6:08 p.m. Dec. 14, authorities said.

Pomona police Detective Jennifer Turpin said the suspect and victim were friends who had known each other for three or four years.

"The suspect is a gang member, but the victim is not a gang member and this was not gang-related," Turpin said.

Several people were in the apartment with the two at the time of the shooting.

Detectives still do not have a motive for the shooting.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Issues to Discuss at March 10 SARA Meeting

The next SARA meeting is Tuesday, March 10 at 7PM in Council Chambers. During the February meeting, the PD made clear it 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 will allow the PD time to look into the concerns and respond in the meeting.

To this end, all are invited to post concerns/questions to this blog thread. I'll send any concerns/questions posted by March 3 to Brian Haggerty. (A one-week lead time will provide time to look into specific issues.) Be as specific as you can so the PD can likewise respond with specificity.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Your Ideas Needed: Special Topics for NW Meetings

I'd like to generate a list of special topics NW groups might wish to engage during monthly meetings (in addition to the always-present "what are we worried about right now"). Here are some initial brainstorms -- would love to hear others.

* Emergency preparedness
* Child safety
* Using neighborhood curb appeal to increase likelihood of selling foreclosure properties

What topics have other NW groups engaged? What kinds of things do you think people might be interested in learning and talking about?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Motion-Activated Solar Security Lights

In case you're like me and don't have an electrician in the family, solar powered security lights can be useful to shed a little light in an otherwise dark corner. I'll warn you that these aren't the prettiest of lights to look at, but for a cost-effective security tool, they can't be beat.

The only major requirement for installation is choosing a location with access to direct sunlight. All the models that I've looked at, attach the PV (photovoltaic) panel to the battery with a 10-20 foot extension cord, giving the homeowner a little more flexibility in maximizing the sunlight. A couple of screws to hold down the PV panel and a couple more to mount the light and you're done! Well, almost done. The manufacturer may ask you to turn the light off for at least a day to charge the battery, so rather than climbing on a ladder twice, you may find it easier to charge the light before you install it. You may also want to hold off on the final installation until close to dusk, since it facilitates positioning the light and PIR (passive infrared) motion sensor.

I've purchased models from OSH and Home Depot and didn't have a problem with either. New models are coming out all the time and many appear to be migrating towards using LEDs instead of halogens. If you have experience with either one, please leave a comment. The prices tend to fall around $60, and I can only speculate whether paying a premium really provides you with a superior product. Certainly the brighter the better, so more LEDs or more watts will probably yield the better resort. Of course, "a candle that burns twice as bright, burns half as long", so the increased illumination may influence the battery life or cycles between charges. As for longevity, I'd recommend that you choose the location of the PV panel carefully. In addition to facing south, a location that may allow an occasional shot from the hose to clean it off, may not be a bad idea. In case you didn't know it, bird poop and dirt is detrimental to PV output.

My only warning is that these lights are not for high traffic areas, but if you're looking to illuminate an alley or side of your house, these are wonderful.

Next time, I'll look at wireless remote motion sensors.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dogs and Guns

While looking for additional information on the recent homicide in Claremont, I came across this story of a Claremont police officer shooting a pit bull. Although it doesn't exactly relate to Pomona, I thought it was compelling for the mere fact that I never heard anything about this shooting. Although four shots were fired by a police officer in the middle of the residential area of Claremont Village, only the dog was struck. The 80 pound pit bull was eventually transferred to a veterinary hospital where it died the next day. It isn't clear why the story wasn't covered by the Daily Bulletin or even the Claremont Now blog sponsored by the Bulletin. The Claremont Insider blog did report on the shooting and it was covered in the Claremont Courier which is the link above.

Still no information on the first homicide in Claremont since 2006.

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.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Misleading Mailers Offer Lower Property Taxes For Homeowners

Los Angeles County Assessor Rick Auerbach and County Consumer Affairs Director Pastor Herrera, Jr. recently warned homeowners to be wary of solicitations from private companies offering to file property assessment reduction forms for a hefty fee to pay for a review by the Assessor’s Department for free."We are again receiving calls from homeowners who have been sent these deceptive mailers, many of which could be mistaken for government notices and mislead property owners into thinking they must pay at least $100 to apply for a review of their assessed value,” Auerbach said. “Because of the real estate market downturn, however, my office will begin reviewing nearly 500,000 residential properties for their 2009 assessed values.

Read the entire article at

I have recieved a couple of these ads. They try to make it look official. Please warn your friends and neighbors, especially our senior citizens.

Jaycee Park Community Forum

Jaycee Park Area Community Forum February 24, 6:30 PM.

If you are from the area bounded by Towne, Mountain, the 10, and San Bernardino, join us for an initial meeting on Community Building and Crime Prevention. We will learn about risk and protective factors for our youth and families. We will be asking each other, "If you could wave a magic wand and change or see one thing happen in your neighborhood, what would it be?" We'll do a process to prioritize those things and begin to develop an action plan.

Also have an opportunity to learn about the new online community resource site at, the opening of the Community Resource Centers, the Strengthening Families and Across Ages programs being offered across Pomona, Community Parks and Recreation programs available, how to contact various city departments with questions and concerns, and the Pomona Youth and Family Master Plan.

If you live in that area, please call 909.620.0626 to register or email

For others, please help spread the word and watch for similar Community Forums in your neighborhood. If you would like to host a Forum, please contact me at the number or email above.

Household Hazardous and E-Waste Roundup

Dispose of household hazardous waste and e-waste the right way on Saturday, February 21, 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM, click the link below or paste it into your browser for information and a map.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Reminder: SARA Meeting Tuesday at 7PM

The Pomona PD will host its monthly meeting for Neighborhood Watch organizers and participants this Tuesday at 7PM in Council Chambers. Holler out if you are interested in getting together for an informal meet-and-greet at dba after the main event. See you there!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Homicides in the New Year

I'd like to give a note of thanks to the bloggers over at M-M-M-My Pomona for the regular column (and map) about homicides in the Inland Empire. Check it out. The data don't back up Pomona's bad rap. Grrrr....

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pomona Beautification Day

Save the Date: This year's Pomona Beautification Day is Saturday, May 9. The work part of the day (8:00 AM - 12:00 PM) will be followed by a free BBQ at the Fairplex for participants (12:00-3:00 PM). Wristbands for the BBQ will be distributed at registration sites the morning of the event. Food will be served 12:30-2:30 PM. Many thanks to Jim Henwood, Scott Kelly, and all the folks at the Fairplex for underwriting and hosting this event.

We are hoping to get every Neighborhood Watch Group to participate and be registration sites. Groups are encouraged to select their own worksites. In the past groups have cleaned streets, alleys, and vacant lots. One group created a community garden at a local school. Another idea might be to help a senior citizen in your neighborhoods spruce up their house or yard.

We are also looking for local entertainment for the afternoon, especially young people.

For futher information or to register your group email: (Lincoln Ave. Neighborhood Watch/North Pomona Weed and Seed/South Pomona Weed and Seed/Active Community Engagement Subcommittee of the Youth and Family Master Plan).

Other participants include: Pomona Chamber of Commerce, Fairplex, Pomona Valley Boys and Girls Club, Pomona YMCA, Hands On Inland Empire, the City of Pomona, Pomona Unified School District, Pomona Youth and Family Master Plan Community Board

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Communication among NW groups?

Reader Ed recently asked how much intercommunication occurs among the various NW groups in Pomona. I, too, would be curious to know the answer to this question.

How connected is your NW group to others in the area? How connected would you like to be? What information might other groups have that you would find interesting and/or relevant? What are the pros and cons of knowing and being known?

Especially during its first year, our NW group benefited a great deal from the support and "know how" of members from a group north of Holt/west of Towne (a shout out to Pomona Joe et al). And, I met lots of really engaged and knowledgeable people at last month's SARA meeting -- people with whom I'd love to trade ideas, success stories, frustrations, etc.

In a nutshell, I know our group would benefit from more communication with other groups.