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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Safety Agencies Give Yearly Reports

• Summer Season Is in Full Swing for ER Teams

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s fire and lifeguard representatives were at the City of Malibu’s July Public Safety Commission meeting to present the agencies’ annual review of services.
“The summer beach team is fully deployed as of July 4 weekend,” Lost Hills Sheriff's Station Malibu Liaison Lt. Jim Royal told the commission. According to Royal, the team has issued 500 alcohol on the beach citations, and towed 60 vehicles. The Lost Hills station has conducted eight DUI checkpoints this year, arrested eight DUIs, and impounded 80 cars.
Crime statistics indicate Malibu crime levels are down 8.8 percent for the year, despite an increase in vehicle burglaries and other thefts. Royal said the station has deployed “special burglary suppression teams,” over the past six months, and that the detective bureau is “really increasing focus.”
Royal said that the sheriff's department and CHP have increased truck weight enforcement on Kanan Dume Road, and that sheriff's deputies have issued 19 citations over the past month. “I believe enforcement is going to be the key,” he said.
“Search and rescue and reserves are in full swing for the summer months,” Royal said. “We are slightly down this year with traffic accidents.”
Royal also updated the commission on the new Malibu Volunteers on Patrol Program. According to the lieutenant, the first two volunteers are currently undergoing background checks. Five more volunteers are just beginning the process. A vehicle has already been secured and the program should be “up and running in the next few months.” Volunteers will assist with vacation checks, special events, and help set up and take down DUI checkpoints, among other duties.
Royal reported that a patrol car equipped with a new, high tech license plate scanner is “deployed but at the station waiting for computer software. “Technology changes,” Royal said. “It’s getting upgraded. Soon. Hopefully.” Royal said the upgrade is out of his control, but that he is attempting to expedite it.
Royal also discussed a July 4 arrest at Trancas Canyon, which involved drawn guns. “The [license] plate did not belong to car [the suspects] were driving. It’s called a cold plated vehicle. It’s a high-risk stop and would involve guns drawn. All deputies are trained in backdrop awareness. It's something not seen a lot around here, but necessary. It turned out to be nothing real serious but it could have been a stolen car, or a robbery just occurred. We have to take precautions.” Royal said that, in this case, the driver took a plate off of a friend's car and put it on his vehicle.
Los Angeles County Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Anthony Whittle provided the commissioners with a written report on the fire department's Malibu activity over the past year, which included 2450 total responses, 1455 emergency medical calls, 15 structure fires, three vehicle fires and eight vegetation fires, as well as routine brush inspection, and participation in community and municipal activities.
“We did finally place the volunteer engine in Corral Canyon. Those firefighters, nine volunteers, are being trained on a weekly basis. We've received several new vehicles in the past several years. Rebuilding 71 is back on track, hopefully back on track.”
According to Whittle, brush clearance inspection has been delayed because of the weather.
“Initial inspections will be completed by next week,” he said, calling compliance levels “decent.”
Los Angeles County Lifeguard Captain Chuck Moore said the beaches are “business as usual,” and that the northern sector, including Malibu's county beaches, is expecting a busy season.
“The water is much, much warmer and there have been more beautiful beach days this year than all of last year,” Moore said. From Friday through Monday we had almost 800,000 people. Nighttime attendance was 50,000 on the beaches after 8 pm. I don't know if that will continue but we are aware of it. We’re ready to go if something happens.
“We are back, fully staffed. The new fiscal year began July 1. If weather turns bad we may shorten a shift here and there, but at this point we need lifeguards in the towers, and they're in the towers.”
Barbara Cameron, the City of Malibu's grant expert, was also present at the meeting, to explain her role in the grant writing process.
“I'm here to explain my role in the city. Brad Davis and public works are responsible for the kind of grants you’ve requested in the past. I’ve been here 37 years. I know many and all of you. I’m a community resident who understands issues very, very well. I often worked with public works to make an application more human, tell a story. I think that’s one of the things that came to mind as I was listening. The city does apply for and receive many, many grants.”
Cameron said that she has never seen a grant for the type of public outreach the safety commission has discussed, including pamphlets or handouts on PCH safety for cyclists and drivers.
“I’ve never seen anything,” she said. “This city and the agencies are doing all the right things to get funding when its available.
“My boss is Jim [Thorsen, the City Manager]. No council member can individually direct my work load,” she said.
She also addressed the commission’s discussion on whether grants would be available to pay for the removal of flammable trees.
“Funding goes to neighborhoods willing to adopt a plan. It has to be a neighborhood. The Fire Safe Council, they hand hold you. Its terrific. Those funds are not given blanket to neighborhood.
“Homeowners have to want to do this, neighbors protecting neighbors. It has to be voluntary. It's not just a straight forward ‘you cut eucalyptus trees.’ What you see as the end result doesn’t reflect what the process is.”
During public comment, Monique Lukens, who also spoke to the Malibu City Council last week, described a recent traffic stop that she said she found frightening and uncomfortable.
She expressed concerns about Lost Hills Sheriff's Station traffic stop protocol regarding women. “I’m asking for the right to stop at lit, populated areas in Malibu and to change release protocol,” she said. Lukens’ item will be on the agenda for the August public safety meeting.

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