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Community Q&A, Districts 1, 3, & 5

COMMUNITY QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS BY THE PASADENA POLICE DEPARTMENT

In response to a recent increase in gun-related violence, including a homicide on February 16, 2016, District 3 Councilmember John J. Kennedy devoted the majority of his February 17 District Meeting to the issue of violence in our community.
At his invitation, Councilmember Kennedy was joined by Councilmembers Hampton (District 1) and Councilmember Gordo (District 5) along with Interim City Manager Steve Mermell and Police Chief Phillip Sanchez. Following brief presentations, members of the public were provided an opportunity submit written questions, many of which were responded to that evening. The following questions from that meeting were provided by community members with responses offered by the Pasadena Police Department.
As appropriate, online links and phone numbers to additional sources of information are provided in the answers below. If you have other questions not answered here, please use the following link online to send your comment or question directly to Police Chief Sanchez at:
http://www.cityofpasadena.net/Police/Contact_Director/

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FROM THE FEBRUARY 16, 2016 PUBLIC MEETING WITH COUNCILMEMBERS KENNEDY, HAMPTON AND GORDO.

In the last meeting at Villa-Parke, Police Chief Sanchez stated that Community Policing was still going on. Foot Patrols are not visible in and around my community like they were when (former) Chief Melekian was here, why?

The Police Department understands the concerns you and your neighbors have. The Department recognizes the seriousness of the situation and we continually strive to improve our services to the community.

Community Policing is a crime fighting philosophy and strategy that involves officers, residents, elected officials, schools and other stakeholders. Foot patrols are just one aspect of a robust Community Policing effort that is only successful with a partnership developed over long-term, active participation by all, with the goal to make our community stronger and more resilient to crime and criminal predators.

Some staffing changes within the Police Department have occurred since 2008 that meant a reallocation of limited police resources. You will soon see in the near future increased foot patrols in your neighborhood and local parks.

Regarding Community Policing, why not place mobile substations in problem areas? Can you get federal funds for this?

The Police Department already actively places its Mobile Command Post in impacted areas including community neighborhoods, parks and open spaces. Department staff is always looking for additional funding sources, to help pay for existing and additional community policing resources and activities. We encourage you to contact your representatives in Congress to support our efforts.

Is there a way to register security cameras with the police so they have knowledge of cameras that may have valuable footage to solve a crime?
Our citizens have an important role in helping us to solve crimes. If anyone believes they have information about a crime, including pictures or videos, we always encourage them to contact us immediately at (626) 744-4241.

Meanwhile, we are looking at similar policing efforts in Florida and locally for standards and Best Practices for this situation. There are also many technological, logistical, legal and training issues that need to be resolved. This is something the Police Department will be considering as part of it crime-fighting toolkit.

I live on Belvidere and I heard shots last night that sounded like they were came from my backyard, so I simultaneously went online to “Next Door” and called the non-emergency line. I was taken aback by the rude response from the Dispatcher who said to me “If you know what happened why are you calling?” I was calling to report what I heard and to confirm with PPD what had occurred. What do you think of this situation?

First, please accept the Department’s sincere apologies for such an encounter. The situation you described is inappropriate, unprofessional and not acceptable. This is not the way the Department, including Dispatch, operates and there will be both a personnel investigation and appropriate follow-up with the parties involved. If a citizen has the courage to call and report a crime you should be treated with courtesy and respect at all times. Again, please accept our apologies.

If we can budget for more police officers, why not intervention counselors with the Pasadena Police Department to work more on prevention?

Great question! We believe prevention and early intervention are valuable and cost-effective ways to stem crime and violence in our community. We actually have intervention counselors now and the Police Department also works in partnership with the Peace Over Violence organization, www.peaceoverviolence.org, which has representatives who help respond to domestic violence calls for service with us to assist victims with emergency restraining orders. We also work in partnership with Pacific Clinics, www.pacificclinics.org; the Pasadena Public Health Department, www.cityofpasadena.net/PublicHealth and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, http://dmh.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/dmh for other intervention issues to better protect both our residents and our officers.

Police Chief Sanchez mentioned intervention. What is the City of Pasadena doing to work with real “community interventionist”?

We have interventionists in the community who already work with the Police Department. They provide a tremendous resource for the community and we would like to have more. In addition to the other organizations noted in response to the previous question, we also have pastors or clergy from local churches who frequently work with us. They willing respond at all hours of the day or night, without fanfare, to help peacefully resolve situations. We have local faith-based organizations like the Lake Avenue Church, https://www.lakeave.org/ that are also involved in the Pasadena, Altadena Parole Reintegration Program.

Laws such as AB109 have adversely impacted our community, but under the leadership of Jayleen Mosely with the Flintridge Center, http://www.flintridge.org/, the Police Department is working to find additional resources and staffing to help people released from incarceration to not return to a life of crime.

We have a “problem house” right across the street. It used to be a family home, but now appears to be a rental in what seems to be a revolving door situation with many people living there all at once. This creates a lot of traffic, a lot of outside noise late into the night; and trash in their front yard and parkway. Why are residents allowed to crowd a single-family dwelling and get away with being so disruptive (and trashy)? I think our City’s laws regarding overcrowding are out of date.  

 

Thank you for sharing your observations. The City does have provisions in its Municipal Code regarding the number of people who can occupy a home as well as standards for noise and trash. For overcrowding, noise, trash or other similar concerns, you can call our Code Compliance line directly at (626) 744-8633, or, you can also call our Pasadena Citizen Service Center at (626) 744-7311 for assistance.

The Citizen Service Center is also online at www.cityofpasadena.net/CSC and there is a link on that page for a smart phone app that you can use too. The smart phone app lets you use your phone to submit a complaint and to take a photo of the issue that you can submit to us. Once you contact the Citizen Service Center, your complaint will be forwarded to the appropriate staff for action and follow-up back to you.

Meanwhile, if there is a crime in progress please call 9-1-1. If you suspect criminal activity, call us at (626) 744-4241.

In terms of problem properties, why is there not more pressure to complete the fixing up of the Washington Theater on Washington just west of Lake Avenue?

Councilmember Victor Gordo has assembled a staff team to meet with the property owner as often as required to discuss the progress of the Washington Theater. They recently met in February (2016) and discussed a construction schedule for completion of the project. The schedule anticipates meeting significant milestones on the interior and exterior every month with project completion anticipated in December 2016. In addition, the Councilmember has requested that murals related to the history of the theater be installed to improve the appearance of the façade until the interior work is completed.

An artist from the Armory Center for the Arts has been commissioned and will begin working on the mural in April. It is anticipated that the mural will be installed in the archways of the façade in May. The City has an assigned staff person for this project to respond to questions or concerns. You can reach Ms. Lola Osborne, Northwest Manager, at (626) 744-4791, or by email, losborne@cityofpasadena.net.

I live on Belvidere and I am a local Realtor specializing in the Landmark Districts. I was raised in Pasadena and came back to raise my girls here. Living in Washington Square for six years I have always felt safe and have “sold” the neighborhood to a number of buyers. But with the recent spree of shootings, I can’t in good faith promote or encourage buyers the way I have in the past and now my children’s safety and my business are all being affected.

The City and the Pasadena Police Department understands your concerns and we take this issue very seriously. Overall, your neighborhood is safe from violent crime. The Department is working around the clock to identify the shooting suspects and make arrests. Meanwhile, more visible enforcement action is being taken and you will see increased patrols on foot, bicycle and car, in your neighborhood.

Orange Grove Boulevard in front of the Von’s grocery store near Fair Oaks and Lincoln avenues has become a spot for loitering and homeless hang outs. What can be done about this?

The City actively uses its Hope Team (Homeless Outreach and Psychiatric Evaluation Team) program with a patrol officer and a mental health clinician to contact people living on the streets to help provide necessary services and get them housing as quickly as possible. Being homeless is not a crime and many people who are homeless are resistant to services and outside help.

The City currently has three Hope Teams, but homelessness is also a regional issue that cannot be solved by Pasadena alone.

If you see loitering, panhandling, graffiti, trash, and other issues that could be code enforcement actions, contact the Citizen Service Center at (626) 744-7311 or online www.cityofpasadena.net/CSC or download the smartphone app and submit by phone.

Please address the importance of 3rd and 4th grades and dropout rates used by the State of California to plan the building of prisons.

You are talking about what is commonly referred to as the school-to-prison pipeline. In Pasadena, we do not want to unnecessarily criminalize our children and about three years ago, the City entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Pasadena Unified School District on the subject.

The MOU, drafted with the help of the ACLU and other community members, defined with clear direction what would be criminal or administrative issues regarding minors on local school campuses.

The MOU clearly spells out if the offenses are within the state Education Code that the incidents can be handled by the schools. However, the Education Code also clearly defines that school officials are mandatory reporters, particularly concerning violence. In 2015, under the MOU, a total of 17 arrests occurred associated with misconduct on the campus or in the immediate area. Seven cases were for truancy, two were assaults and the rest for a variety of other offenses. The MOU has resulted in fewer arrests and more than a 75 percent reduction of arrests on the campuses.

What is the impact of the Super Bowl on domestic violence?
   
Domestic violence is a serious problem in our society. Anyone who engages in domestic violence should be arrested and prosecuted. Locally, the Pasadena Police Department refers EVERY domestic or family violence report it takes to Pasadena’s City Attorney-City Prosecutor, www.cityofpasadena.net/CityAttorney for further review and tracking. People interested in receiving domestic violence resources can contact the City Attorney/City Prosecutor’s Office at (626) 744-4611 to request copies of the “Stopping Domestic Violence in Pasadena Through Prevention and Protection” brochure, which includes helpful tips and resources for those who experience or may encounter domestic violence.

Regarding the idea that there is an increase of, or a correlation between, domestic violence and the Super Bowl, the myth-debunking site Snopes recently concluded there is little scientific or data-driven evidence to support this claim.

http://www.snopes.com/crime/statistics/superbowl.asp

A search on the Internet will produce plenty of articles on both sides of the issue, especially around the time of the Super Bowl game itself. Locally, the Department saw no such increase.

At the last meeting, “A Boots on the Ground” process was mentioned by Mark Sutton. Has/will funds be budgeted to jump start that contract again?

In addition to a robust response by the Pasadena Police Department, which includes additional patrols, the City Council recently approved a contract with the Flintridge Center which will provide funding for gang interventionists and case managers.

Los gangas regresson en Kings Village. (The gangs have returned to Kings Village)

Concerns have been raised that some of the people living in Kings Villages and Community Arms have ties to gangs. Generally, as long as people abide by the law they are free to live where they want. In cases where residents or their guests cause problems, the Pasadena Police Department has been involved in removing them from the community. These efforts will continue. Related to this, with the assistance of the City, the Community Arms neighborhood will be receiving federal funding to implement various security improvements.

La Pintoresca and Washington are wonderful parks but not as safe as they should be for our children. Is there an opportunity to increase your presence both as early intervention/relationship building, but also as an effort to make these resources safer during high times of usage on weekends?

Parks are an important part of our community and ensuring they remain safe for all to enjoy is a priority for the City and the Pasadena Police Department. In addition to increased police patrols, the City has Park Safety Officers who monitor the parks and are in direct contact to the Police Department for any required response to problems. Additionally, it’s been recognized that programming activities in our parks, which brings people out, is another good way to enhance safety. To this end, the Human Services and Recreation Department is actively expanding is programs and staff at Washington Park.

Is Washington Park open all night?

No. All City parks close at 10 p.m. The Police Department is working with the Human Services and Recreation Department, www.cityofpasadena.net/HumanServices as well as the Public Works Department, www.cityofpasadena.net/PublicWorks, to ensure that park lights are turned off at closing time. We are working to make sure the same thing happens at Villa-Parke and all other park facilities too.

If you see something suspicious at the parks after closing time, say something to us by call (626) 744-4241.

El Molino is a troubled street, especially at the corner of Washington and El Molino, where there have been hit-and-run accidents and other criminal activity. How about a one-way traffic only southbound on El Molino, from Woodbury to Washington?

Police Department staff will note your concerns; track information with respect to reports of hit-and-run accidents and share that with our Department of Transportation, www.cityofpasadena.net/Transportation, which has responsibility for traffic engineering and street patterns.
If warranted, changes in traffic flow patterns can be made to help improve vehicular and pedestrian safety.

Does the City of Pasadena have a program like, LA’s Gang Reduction Program GRYD Workers or Community Worker?

The City’s Housing and Career Services Department, www.cityofpasadena.net/Housing, has a unique jobs training program called MASH, (Maintenance Assistance and Services to Homeowners), that employs 30 to 50 people a year in home repair and maintenance fields. Participants have a variety of backgrounds including some with past gang participation. The MASH program is not specifically targeted towards current or ex-gang members and all participants must pass the City’s background check.

Visit the website http://ww5.cityofpasadena.net/housing/mash/maintenance-assistant-for-homeowners/ or call MASH at (626) 744-7620 if you are interested in the job training program or, as an income-qualified homeowner, to take advantage of the many free or low-cost services provided.

Don’t you agree that neighbors need to look out for each other?

Yes. Perhaps the most important thing that residents can do is to look out for each other. Get involved and get to know each other. Check on each other, especially seniors and youths. It is your neighborhood. Form Neighborhood Watch Groups; http://cityofpasadena.net/police/community_services/ and get emergency or disaster response training from our Fire Department, http://ww2.cityofpasadena.net/disaster/.

Call the Department when something doesn’t look right and help to ensure that your neighborhood remains vigilant. If you see something, say something. Information can be provided anonymously.

Does the city have a volunteer police force? If not has that been considered?
   

Yes. The Department has a robust citizen volunteer corps that performs a variety of duties for the Police Department, contributing more than 10,000 hours of volunteer time each year, saving the City and its residents, hundreds of thousands of dollars in personnel expenses.

You too can be a part of the Department’s cadre of volunteers! Check out more at our webpage:

http://cityofpasadena.net/police/Volunteer_Mission_Statement/

Or contact Officer Kim Baecker: (626)744-7652, kbaecker@cityofpasadena.net for more information.

Can you address the difference of public tax dollars for police services in 91104 vs. 91105? The attention to any PPD issue in 91105 was immediately corrected with patrol and in 91104 the PD is not present (District 1).

All calls for service to the Pasadena Police Department are prioritized based on the severity of the issue. There is no distinction in service level by geographic area. The Department deploys its resources where needed.

How many gangs (approximately) are known to be in Pasadena? Are there any turf disputes around the Washington Park area that you know of?

There are approximately 500 active gang members in our community tied to a number of African-American and Latino gangs. While there is not a “turf war” at the City parks, gang members do use these open spaces to gather.

Are there any community violence experts that can work with youth in Pasadena? What resources/programs are in place?

There are numerous nonprofit agencies that provide meaningful opportunities for youth, channeling them away from drugs, crime and other antisocial activities. The City publishes a resource guide that catalogues these programs. For a copy of this guide, go online to http://cityofpasadena.net/HumanServices/; scroll down to the bottom of this page and click on the link for the “Survival Guide 2014-2016” at
http://cityofpasadena.net/WorkArea/linkit.aspx?LinkIdentifier=id&ItemID=6442473258&libID=6442473225

In addition, the Pasadena Police Department operates its Police Activities League program: http://cityofpasadena.net/police/pasadena_pal_program/

And the Northwest Programs Office operates the City’s Youth Ambassador program,

http://ww5.cityofpasadena.net/northwest/youth-ambassadors

These are just two examples of the many programs which exist in our community to benefit our youth.

My wife, child and I moved into Washington Square 6 months ago. Last night someone was shot and killed in our neighborhood. Realistically, how much gang violence can we expect in our neighborhood? And what is being done about it?

Pasadena is a safe community as is your neighborhood. Unfortunately, Pasadena does have gang activity that from time-to-time spills over into violence, usually perpetrated amongst people who know each other. If you see suspicious activity you should call the Pasadena Police Department at (626) 744-4241 so that officers can respond and investigate. If you have a life-threatening emergency, always call 9-1-1.

Can we emulate what the City Attorney’s office in Los Angeles is doing in forcing landlords to sell problem properties that have a history of gang violence?

As mentioned previously, in the case of federally subsidized housing people can be terminated and evicted if they are not abiding by the law.

I assume that the recent shootings are gang–related. What outreach has been done to reduce violence in Pasadena? Are there specific ways that residents can help to outreach to gangs?

It has yet to be determined if the recent shootings are gang related. However, there are several Prevention and Intervention programs in our community including some sponsored by the Pasadena Police Department. You can learn more about PPD programs from our webpage at www.cityofpasadena.net/Police. Residents can assist with our prevention and intervention efforts by getting involved in their community, assisting at schools and volunteering as a mentor to youth.

Tonight we discussed community involvement. I heard concerns about Washington Park, La Pintoresca Park and Villa Park. Are these the only problem areas? What is being done at other parks that can be shared to promote a more wholesome environment at Washington Park, Villa Parke and la Pintoresca Park?

Robinson Park has also been the scene of recent problems and the City has enhanced security at all parks. In addition to more frequent police patrols, parks safety staff are assigned to monitor the parks. Our Parks Safety Specialists are in direct radio contact with the Police Department. Also the Human Services and Recreation Department continues to expand its programming of the parks in order to bring people in and create a more wholesome environment.

In the city of Pasadena a there are resources in individuals, groups, associations, etc. What actions are being put in place to bring those resources together to develop and support action plans for resolutions of some of the problems?

The Pasadena Police Department works collaboratively with other city departments, including Human Services and Recreation. Equally important we coordinate program efforts with the Flintridge Center and other nonprofits focused on youth development. PPD works with the school district and also sponsors youth programs to keep our young people involved.

Please encourage everyone to volunteer at a local Northwest Community elementary school! Please have the Police Department work with, and get to know, the young people in our community. They could be the person that helps other youth say no to crime.

There are many opportunities for people to volunteer and enhance their community. It is through such activities that we create a safe and caring environment for our children and reduce the threat of crime and violence.

Posted: 3/7/2016 01:45:00 PM
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