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Domestic Violence Survivor: ‘I’ve Been to Hell and Back’

Maria arrived at the Anaheim Family Justice Center just after Christmas. Her nose was broken. Her black eyes were hidden behind oversized sunglasses.

Lt. Julian Harvey joins violence survivors in celebrating their new found self-confidence

Her alcoholic boyfriend beat her then burned her clothing. 

“They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” says “Maria,” 21. “Well, I’ve been to hell and back.”

On Thursday, she and 20 other women graduated from AFJC’s eight-week “Survivor’s Academy,” designed to provide tools, skills and confidence to make meaningful changes in their lives.

“It was a wake-up call for me,” said Maria, a mother of two boys. “I have enough self-respect now not to tolerate that kind of behavior. I was in denial before. He was taught to be a woman beater, and I know now that I can’t change him.”

Hosted by Irene Martinez, the one-of-a-kind academy focuses on teaching self-confidence and self-worth. It also provides budgeting, resume writing and job-skills assistance.

“You really see a transformation in these women,” Martinez said. “It’s a special program and I’m proud to be part of it.”

During Thursday’s event, which was attended by police officials and community leaders such as Annan Aboul-Nasr from the Islamic Institute of Orange County, each participant was asked to address the audience. 

In Spanish, Ana said: “This is a place that helps alleviate sadness. It helped me learn to value myself more – and love myself more.”

A few minutes later, Spanish-speaker Carmen turned to Police Chief John Welter and, in English, said, “It gave me tools to help me. I really appreciate it. Thank you.”

A high school drop out, Maria plans to enroll in community college classes and earn her diploma. Her four-year-old will start preschool soon; she’s also looking for work.

What about her boyfriend, the father of her children?

He’s in jail.

Maria knows he won’t be there forever.

“Eighty-percent come back and retaliate,” she says, citing a statistic from the academy. “It is a concern. But I’m in control. Not him.”

Top Dog Cisko Takes a Bite Out of Crime

Last year was a big year for Anaheim Police Department veteran canine officer Cisko and his partner, Brian Bonczkiewicz.

The duo busted dozens of bad guys and seized more than $550,000 in drugs and drug money.

For their accomplishments, the American Legion recently honored Cisko, a German Shepherd, with the “Meritorious Canine” award and Bonczkiewicz with a similar award of merit.

“We are fortunate to have one of the finest canine teams anywhere,” said Sgt. Rick Martinez.

Cisko’s award leads the most recent Anaheim Bulletin “Behind the Badge” column.

Read the rest of it here.

Arrests Highlight APD’s Effort to Solve Violent Gang Crime

By Tony Dodero

Anaheim gang investigators struck a crippling blow to a fledgling street gang recently, arresting the leader and three other members and confiscating an assault rifle as they prepared for battle with a rival gang, officials said.

Juan Pena

The leader, Juan Pena, and three juvenile gang associates were picked up and a .38-revolver and a SKS assault rifle were seized during the months-long investigation, officials said. Three of the four suspects face a number of charges including conspiracy to commit murder, aggravated assault, gang member in possession of weapons and gang enhancements.

“They are looking at a lot of time (behind bars),” said Sgt. Mike Haggerty, the supervisor of Anaheim Police Department’s gang detail.

The arrests illustrate Anaheim PD’s strategic effort to crack down on criminal street gangs, especially new ones to ensure they don’t become entrenched in the community, he said.

“It goes without saying we are going out there to hammer these gangs,” Haggerty said. “Our job is to identify these gangs and then hit them with search warrants and get rid of them early. They are on the front burner.”

The arrests were sparked by a rise in tension between a relatively new gang and an existing street gang involved  in several incidents in Southwest Anaheim. The recent arrests will put a damper on the new gang’s future activities, Haggerty said.

The gang is suspected to be involved in shooting the tip off the nose of a rival at Maxwell Park in December. A nearby fire station was also hit during the assault. Another shooting and confrontation took place at a fast food restaurant on the corner of Ball Road and Dale Avenue and two members of the gang later confronted rivals at a Beach Boulevard motel. 

They are also suspected of breaking into the home of another rival and shooting at him while he was on a couch.

The gang’s activity seemed to increase after the release of Pena from prison in January. Pena was friends with one of the gang’s founders who was shot and killed near the corner of Euclid Street and Cerritos Avenue in July of 2008, Haggerty said. Members of the rival gang are suspected in that shooting.

Haggerty said the gang battle was unusually protracted.

“It was obviously something personal here,” Haggerty said. Also, he said the nature of the weapons confiscated show the gang was planning more violence.

“That SKS rifle could kill several people at one time,” he said of the assault weapon that was purchased on the street for $400. “That goes to show you the mentality of that gang.”

Former Chief Roger Baker Retires From Des Moines PD

Former Anaheim Police Chief Roger Baker, who served APD for 29 years, announced his retirement this week from the chief’s job in Des Moines, Washington.

Waterland Blog photo

He told the WaterLand Blog that he plans to “work as a consultant to law enforcement locally and nationally.”

He also said he and his wife Shirley plan to maintain their home in Des Moines.

To read the post, click here.

APD’s Senior Chaplain Honored for Community Service

Anaheim PD’s senior chaplain Bryan Crow and his wife Wanda were recently presented the Max V. Eliason Humanitarian Service Award by the Anaheim Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Chaplain Crow

The couple’s award was featured this week in an Anaheim Bulletin article.

“Bryan Crow is the foundation and the glue of our chaplain’s program,” said Chief John Welter. “Chaplain Crow had assisted in creating a dynamic team of chaplains who are there to support the Anaheim community and the members of the APD.

Welter said the Crows are “true members of our family.”

“He has helped us when we’ve needed support, and he’s been there for us in the best of times, he said. “We congratulate them on this well deserved recognition.

To read the article, click here.

Officer Randy Sany Named VFW’s Officer of the Year

Officer Sany is congratulated by Capt. Mike Aquino and Deputy Chief Craig Hunter

He played a key role in solving a double murder and a burglary spree. Now, Officer Randy Sany can add another accomplishment to his resume – the Anaheim Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Police Officer of the Year.

Sany and Anaheim Firefighter Dave Barry were honored along with awards for the city’s top Eagle Scout and Girl Scout.

To read more about his accomplishments, click here.

Kids Learn Safety Isn’t Only For the Birds

Author Susan Finch puckers up before Officer Byrd plants a kiss

They’ve been partners for 33 years, the turquoise-and-orange macaw and retired Los Angeles Police officer Michael Simonsen.

Chief John Welter answers a question about dinosaurs

“He was the seventh animal at LAPD,” Simonsen told dozens of awe-struck children Friday at the Anaheim Family Justice Center. “His name isn’t James Bond; it’s James Byrd, and he’s not trained to shoot. He’s trained to poop.”

More than 50 children – some participants in APD’s Cops4Kids program – watched Officer Byrd’s every move as he rode a mini bicycle, picked up trash and looked both ways before he crossed the street.

Simonsen – and former Anaheim Web designer Susan M. Finch – visited the justice center to read from their children’s books, “The Adventures of Officer Byrd” and “Dino Manners.”

“It was so much fun to watch the children pick up important safety tips in such an entertaining way,” said Kerith Dilley, executive director of the AFJC Foundation.

Police Chief John Welter and City Attorney Cristina Talley read Dino Manners to the children. Afterward, Welter handed out gold APD badge stickers. And local McDonald’s owner Scott Frisbie donated refreshments.

“It’s nice to see the generosity of our community,” Dilley added, noting the authors offered 30-percent of book sales to AFJC. “And it’s always refreshing to watch young children interact with and build positive relationships with our police officers.”

Readers can buy Dino Manners until the end of March and a portion of the sale will benefit the foundation, Dilley said. “The book would be a great gift for the women and children in our survivor’s academy,” she said.

Kids enjoyed Officer Byrd's safety messages