Earthquake expert warns of dangers on Great California Shakeout day
by Kristina Hernandez
It will take 100 seconds for California to unzip, and three minutes for the state to stop shaking.
That's how Kathleen Springer describes The Big One, and she's the expert.
Springer, a longtime senior curator of geological sciences at the San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands, has devoted much of her career to telling people what to expect when The Big One hits.
“Let's face it: There's an earthquake in your future,” Springer cautioned by phone.
Millions are expected to participate Thursday in the Great California ShakeOut, the state's largest earthquake drill.
Hundreds will be a part of the museum's drill with Springer again. She will address a crowd about the program, how it was created and the importance of being prepared and how to survive the large shaker that will rock the region. Her talk is titled, “The Science Behind the ShakeOut.”
The scenario describes a hypothetical 7.8 shaker that originates along the San Andreas Fault in Bombay Beach near the Salton Sea and rips all the way into north Los Angeles County to Lake Hughes, a distance of 180 miles.
Cajon Pass — one of the most-traveled areas in Southern California — will be destroyed by the quake, affecting travel and assistance available from other states for a long time.
“It's going to take months to reestablish that, and there could be an aftershock that six months later can sever all the work that had been done to reestablish all these repairs,” Springer said.
Buildings will fall. Electricity will be unavailable. And assistance, well, it could take up to several days before emergency personnel could reach those in need.
On average, large quakes occur on the fault every 150 years. But one that big hasn't been felt in the area since 1857. Before that — 1680.
“But what does it mean for you to live here? We don't get tornadoes here, but we do get earthquakes. It may be flat in Nebraska, but it's not flat here. Did you know these mountains are created from earthquake to earthquake? It took a long time ... and they're still rising. And earthquakes are in our future,” Springer said.
The idea for the ShakeOut originated — in part — from what Springer has been doing at the museum as officials there began creating the Hall of Geological Wonders — an exhibition that focuses on how quakes developed the region.
She met with Mark Benthien, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center, where she described what the museum was doing.
“(Mark is) ‘Mr. ShakeOut' and got all of us people together, and it's all these people literally dedicated to earthquake and tsunami awareness throughout the state of California,” Springer said.
That developed into the ShakeOut, and over the years has grown into a global phenomenon with millions participating.
This year alone, more than 9.5 million are registered in California and 24 million worldwide.
At the museum, Springer shares resources and tidbits about the fault line and how scientists are working to establish a forecast for shakers.
There are more than 300 faults in California, including the San Andreas.
California has a 99.7 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 earthquake or higher hitting the region within 30 years.
The southern section of the San Andreas Fault has the highest probability of a 7.5 magnitude shaker or greater. The probability is 46 percent.
Such a quake is more likely to occur in the southern half of the state — 37 percent in 30 years — than in the northern half — 15 percent chance in 30 years — according to the Southern California Earthquake Center.
Springer — who resides in Claremont with her husband and two children — has traveled around the state and out of the area to meet and speak about the ShakeOut and earthquakes.
Her work has been noticed by several people in the earthquake science community, as well as officials in Washington, D.C.
In early 2012, Springer and her colleagues behind the Earthquake Country Alliance (ECA) — the people behind the ShakeOut — were recognized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for their efforts.
“Earthquake awareness and motivating people to be prepared emphasizes the ShakeOut,” Springer said. “This is a way for us to communicate to the world the risk to the public. I have been very interested in doing that as a scientist, as an educator to teach how natural science can help build these more resilient societies through science.
“The ShakeOut really had a huge buzz at the beginning, and it never abated. All it has done is grow and grow,” she continued. “I'm the ‘ShakeOut Lady' at the museum, but there's ‘ShakeOut People' who have made this possible.”
To learn more, visit shakeout.org.
LAPD, human rights group work to prevent assaults on LGBT arrestees
by Brenda Gazzar
Last year, the Los Angeles Police Department made headlines when it announced it was creating a housing unit at the Metropolitan Detention Center downtown exclusively for transgender arrestees — believed to be the first in the country — to ensure their personal safety.
The department also earned praise from civil rights groups last year for developing a series of patrol protocols to be “respectful, professional and courteous” to transgender people, including guidelines such as addressing them by their preferred name and using gender pronouns in line with how they identify and express themselves.
Now, the LAPD is about to receive a $240,000 federal grant to work with the human rights organization Just Detention International to help the police agency come into compliance with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act and to help other agencies around the country do the same.
While no one is immune to rape or sexual assault, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community has a history of being targeted and victimized in custody settings, law enforcement officials and advocates say.
“Like the transgender module, we look forward to being a model for PREA and helping other jurisdictions implement that act that's required of them without making it too difficult,” LAPD Capt. David Lindsay, a commanding officer in the jail division, told attendees at a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Community Forum hosted by Police Chief Charlie Beck on Tuesday.
PREA was passed by Congress in 2003 to address the high number of rapes and sexual assaults in the country's detention centers and just last year, the Department of Justice released standards for complying with the law.
Lindsay says there have been two allegations of sexual assault overall in LAPD detention facilities in the past 34 months. One was prosecuted and the other, through video surveillance, was determined to never have occurred, he said.
While Just Detention International has seen many prisons take the initiative in implementing these landmark safety standards, they haven't seen many police departments do so, said JDI spokesman Jesse Lerner-Kinglake. As part of the grant, the nonprofit organization will be doing a “complete assessment” of LAPD's policies and guidelines on sexual abuse prevention, detection and response, he said.
“LAPD is really putting themselves at the forefront of inmate safety,” Lerner-Kinglake said. “This is huge.”
Ironically, the standards announced last year prohibit de facto or automatic segregation of transgender detainees, but the LAPD already had its transgender pod in place when the compliance standards were issued last year, Lindsay said.
“It's a conundrum,” he said. “We have something here that's positive and is working well but yet prohibited by federal law.”
LAPD's policy has not been challenged, but Lindsay acknowledged it could be in the future. However, he said he's working on potential solutions, which he declined to specify, that would allow LAPD to maintain the unit while complying with the law.
The Department of Justice's PREA standards require agencies to consider, among other factors, a transgender or intersex prisoner's own views with regards to his or her own safety, as well as whether or not someone identifies as transgender or intersex, said JDI Program Director Christine Kregg. While de facto segregation of transgender detainees does violate the 2012 standards, she said, a case-by-case determination of where to safely house a transgender woman could result in the transgender detainees being placed together, as they are now.
LGBT advocates praised the work LAPD has done so far but acknowledged, as did LAPD officials, that much remains to be done. At Tuesday's forum, a Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center staff member said out of the seven most recent cases that the organization has gotten involved with relating to transgender women, each one was identified with male pronouns in police records with no reference to their preferred name or how they identify their gender. LAPD Officer Alessandra Moura, a spokesperson for the office of the chief, said that one's gender identity often isn't disclosed when an investigative report is made but is later when detectives follow up with an interview. But LAPD Assistant Chief Sandy Jo MacArthur said the department is lacking a policy perspective on how people should be identified for filing purposes and how they should be identified in the narrative portion of the department's reports.
2 convicted murderers mistakenly freed from Florida prison
by Kevin Conlon
(Pictures on site)
The state of Florida is asking for help in locating two former prison inmates that they realized should still be current inmates.
Charles Walker and Joseph Jenkins, both 34, are considered "escapees" by authorities, but their prison break wasn't exactly a scene out of "The Shawshank Redemption."
Walker and Jenkins -- both convicted murderers -- separately walked out of the Franklin Correctional Institution located on Florida's panhandle "in accordance with Department of Corrections policy and procedure," according to Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews.
"However, both of their releases were based on fraudulent modifications that had been made to court orders," he said.
Authorities would not elaborate further.
Law enforcement learned of the situation Tuesday.
Walker, who was freed October 8, and Jenkins, freed on September 27, are both former residents of Orlando, and the Orange County sheriff's office worries both may have returned.
"They committed violent crimes," Capt. Angelo Nieves told CNN. "The best thing for them to do is to turn themselves in."
Jenkins was serving a 50-year sentence in a 1998 murder and armed robbery and got an extra five years for a 1997 auto theft. He had been incarcerated since 2000. Walker was serving a 15-year sentence for a 1999 murder and had been in custody since 2001.
While Nieves and other law enforcement search for the inmates, Crews says he'll be conducting a "vigorous and thorough review" of other such prison releases to make sure there aren't others out there who shouldn't be.