Police target texting drivers; tickets start at $160
LOS ANGELES - As part of distracted driving month, which started Monday, police across Southern California will be ticketing for texting drivers, those holding a cellphone to their head or drivers whose attention wanders for any reason.
Dozens of police agencies have planned targeted operations for April 3-16, which has been designated a maximum enforcement period. Wednesday will be zero-tolerance day, when officers will give tickets only -- no warnings.
Fines start around $160. A second offense can cost about $280.
In Pasadena, Friday will be maximum enforcement day, according to Lt. Pete Hettema said.
Tuesday at 8 a.m., California Highway Patrol officers and Burbank city officials will be at John Burroughs High School to impress upon students the importance of paying attention while driving.
In April 2012 alone, about 57,000 people statewide got tickets for driving while distracted, and about 450,000 people were ticketed during the entire year.
In 2011, about 3,300 people died nationwide in accidents involving at least one distracted driver, according to federal highway safety officials.
According to studies cited by law enforcement, young, inexperienced drivers are most susceptible to having an accident because of distracted driving. Drivers using any kind of handheld electronic device are about four time more likely to have a wreck than drivers who are not using them.
Racial brawl breaks out at Twin Towers Jail
by Richard Winton
A fight along racial lines involving as many 62 inmates erupted shortly after noon in Los Angeles County's Twin Towers Jail, leaving four of those in custody needing medical treatment.
The brawl between Latino and black inmates broke out at 12:10 p.m in the third-floor recreation area of Tower 1 and was quashed in about 90 seconds after deputies deployed sting balls and gas, sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said.
"We cannot say how many of the inmates were exactly involved, but 62 were in the area at the time," Whitmore said. The altercation left four inmates needing treatment at the medical center with cuts and bruises. Whitmore said deputies immediately deployed two sting balls and gas designed to clear areas.
Twin Towers is among the county's most modern jails with module-designed levels. Although such fights have been common at the Pitchess facility in Castaic, Twin Towers is rarely the scene of multi-inmate clashes.
Whitmore said the incident is being investigated and charges are likely to be forthcoming once the culprits are clearly identified.
Los Angeles County operates the country's largest jail system housing around 18,000 to 19,000 inmates daily. Sheriff Lee Baca in the last few years has come in for scathing criticism for his operation of the jails.
Recently, the FBI broadened its investigation into violence in the jail system and Baca hired an outsider to over see its operations. That investigation has secured one deputy's conviction and according to sources is now examining two new cases of unprovoked beatings involving deputies.
FWPD and the Community: Building a Relationship
by Rachel Martin
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The crimes may have stopped for the time being, but that doesn't mean Fort Wayne police are taking a break. Chief Rusty York shares what the police department is doing to stop crime and build a better relationship with the community.
Fort Wayne Police Chief Rusty York says FWPD has multiple forces, like the Gang Unit, Neighborhood Response Team, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), working together on crimes.
In addition to manning the streets, York says they patrol based on two methods: community policing and data-driven policing.
Community driven policing is when officers are assigned "beats" or specific neighborhoods in which they patrol, and form relationships with area residents. York says FWPD views this way of policing as more of a philosophy, because they do not have officers specifically assigned to certain areas. York says they do, however, have Community Liaison Officers that meet with neighborhood groups monthly.
Data-driven policing is the use of statistics to pinpoint trends like who, what and where crimes are happening. Officers hold weekly, or daily meetings going over the stats to know which areas need the greatest police presence. York says this type of information is helpful to FWPD's Gang Unit and Neighborhood Response Teams.
“They're out there on a daily basis. They know who the gang members are, they know who the burglars, the armed robbers are, so we're trying to apprehend them. It's just basically our officers being armed with information daily about who is involved in these crimes,” York said.
Even though York says his officers have an idea of whose committing crimes, it's not that easy to get them off the streets.
“Without those witnesses to corroborate the crime, to tell us who was involved and come in and be interviewed and potentially be a witness, we don't have a lot to go on. I mean, we can't go to the prosecutor's office or go to a judge and say our officers have a pretty good idea of who did this we need a warrant for that person's arrest. That's not going to happen,” he said.
York says most of the shootings that happened this weekend were gang related, but not all of them. However, York says the department has already solved six cases, some within minutes of an incident. He says FWPD couldn't have done it without the community's help and willingness. York realizes the community has already taken action on the issues, but wants to break down the barrier of communication further. York considers the community to be the department's greatest tool in solving crimes.
Citrus Heights Police Department Earns Award for Excellence
The award, which is sponsored by the state Attorney General's Office, was given for transforming Sayonara Drive.
by Lauren Gibbs
The Citrus Police Department was the recipient of a community policing award for its transformation of Sayonara Drive.
The department was named the 2013 recipient of the James Q. Wilson Award for Excellence in Community Policing, an annual award presented by the California chapter of the Regional Community Policing Institute. The award is sponsored by the American Military University and the state Attorney General's Office, according to the California Police Chiefs Association.
Sayonara Drive, located off Sunrise Boulevard in Citrus Heights, was once an unsafe street filled with gang-related crime, drugs, shootings, litter and unkempt houses. But that has changed with the help of the "problem oriented policing unit," according to the association. Officers worked with kids in the youth center on the street and built trust with the local families.
The association reports that Sayonara Drive underwent a "remarkable transformation, with a new Children and Youth Center and new park, and a stunning 78 percent overall decrease in calls for service from 2007 through 2011."
According to the Regional Community Policing Institute's website, the award is given to one law enforcement agency every year after a panel of experts review information based on problem solving, relationships with the community and organizations and results.
You can read more about the Sayonara Drive revitalization here.