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Cisko Takes Another Bite Out of Crime

One of Orange County’s most renowned crime-fighting canines took another bite out of crime this week.

Cisko and partner Brian Bonczkiewicz find another suspect... photo by Sgt. Rick Martinez

Thursday morning, Cisko and several Anaheim police officers responded to a burglary-in-progress in the 1000 block of S. Roadrunner Road.

The suspect had smashed a window to gain entry.

A woman, who was home at the time, briefly confronted the suspect – who also lives in the neighborhood – before leaving the house and calling 911.

Police arrived within minutes, and quickly established a perimeter to ensure the suspect couldn’t flee along the dense hillside near the home.

Enter Cisko, last year’s Anaheim Legion’s “Meritorious Canine,” and
partner Brian Bonczkiewicz.

He found the suspect hiding in the master bedroom.

“This was another great example of team work,” said Sgt. Rick Martinez. “We responded quickly, set up a perimeter and made a good arrest.”

Arrested on suspicion of burglary was Roscoe Cambridge, 28.

Officer Shane Explains Why DUI Suspects Must Follow the Finger


Officer Shane

Officer Shane Spielman, author of the popular “Ask Officer Shane” Facebook page, recently explained to his followers why DUI suspects must follow an officer’s finger.

“We’re looking for horizontal and vertical gaze nystagmus,” he explained. “Nystagmus is the involuntary bounce or jerkiness of the eyes which is caused by alcohol and drug consumption.”

Click on the video above for a detailed look.

Officer Shane also answered a few reader questions.

Tom asked: When does the speed limit change, when you can see the new speed limit sign – or when you actually reach it?

Officer Shane says, “At the area of the sign… ”

Mark asked: I’ve noticed several APD cars & motors with no plate’s on them. Just wondering what’s up?

Officer Shane says, “We got some new bikes and cars…Takes a bit to get the plates.”

Got a question? You can reach him at sspielman@anaheim.net.

Or follow his Facebook page.

Anaheim Adds 10 Names to Military Banners

Anaheim Police Chief John Welter joined Mayor Curt Pringle and members of the City Council this afternoon as the city honored nine Anaheim residents currently serving in the military and one fallen soldier in the during its second “Military Banner” ceremony. 

Chief Welter

“Over the past two and a half centuries, the American service man and woman has stood fast in the face of many foes under extreme circumstances,” said Welter, at the George Washington Park ceremony.  “Some have served on the battlefield; many have been severely injured or even lost their lives.  All who serve earn the respect and gratitude for their continued dedication to our freedom.”

The 10 military members honored today will join the 21 others previously honored, and the banners will be displayed on street light poles throughout Anaheim.  The city created the Military Banner program in the fall of 2009 as a way to recognize Anaheim residents currently serving in the military.

“Our military personnel, including their families, are sacrificing much in order to make a more peaceful world for all,” continued Welter.  “Family members are sharing every minute of service while their loved one is away.  They too are serving and sacrificing every day, so we want to thank them for their service.”

New lieutenant says recent promotions ‘represent change’ for police department

Sharon Pietrok was all smiles at a recent promotion ceremony for Anaheim PD employees.

Pietrok is among those who are changing the face of Anaheim PD’s leadership. In the past six months, the department has promoted two new captains and six new lieutenants.

The lieutenant receives her new badge from chief John Welter

The fact that she is among three women in that group isn’t the story, she says.

“The focus shouldn’t have been on the fact that three women were promoted to leadership positions, but that the department promoted two dispatchers, two sergeants, three lieutenants and a captain in one day,” she says.

“That represents change in an organization,” she said.

Pietrok, a Canyon High School graduate who also holds a master’s degree from Long Beach State, has enjoyed a 20-year career at Anaheim PD.

Working child abuse investigations has been her favorite and most challenging assignment.

“Child victims cannot always articulate to you what happened,” she says. “You know someone — usually a parent, family member or trusted person — has harmed a child, but you cannot always gather the necessary evidence to bring these perpetrators to justice. It’s not for the lack of trying. Sometimes perpetrators get away with some pretty horrific crimes.”

Pietrok sees the Anaheim PD’s biggest strength as its willingness to work with the community to improve quality-of-life issues, as well as holding members of the community accountable for what they’ve done to help out a situation or an issue.

She believes the department can improve in the area of being consistent with the message it delivers to the public.

In five years, Pietrok would like to be assigned to the Anaheim Family Justice Center – a job she feels would be “very rewarding.”

As for the department itself, she would like to see the department back up to strength, 400 officers, as well as with a comparable support staff.

“We will be engaging the community and the other city departments on deeper levels,” Pietrok says. “We are already headed in that direction, thanks to Chief Welter. After working three years in the Community Policing Team, it’s very apparent that the relationship-building has paid off citywide.”

Pietrok is a recent recipient of the Randall W. Gaston Community Service Award for her work in effecting change in the West Anaheim neighborhoods, with the help of Officer Mark McMullin and Crime Prevention Specialist Susie Schmidt.  “You don’t achieve great results without working with great people,” she says.

She was recognized by the DeMolay youth organization and nominated by the Anaheim PD command staff.

In her spare time, Pietrok is an avid practitioner of personal defense.

“It empowers others just to know they can have a plan or options,” she says. “Knowledge is king, so discussing possible situations and scenarios before they may occur helps others to think of what options will be available to them.”

Pietrok says that in her new role, she hopes to “remind others of our own abilities and responsibilities as individuals to make change happen both in our personal and professional lives.”

As for women in the police force, she believes it’s important for them to take an active leadership role in police management or any other organization.

“We’re all individuals regardless of gender or ethnicity, and we all have something unique to offer due to our varied life experiences and upbringings,” Pietrok says.

“And the more we organizationally see our own differences, the better it allows us to serve our diverse community. Every voice counts.”

Especially the voice of her father, who in some ways she has modeled her career after.

“I’d like to think I operate like him — what you see is what you get,” Pietrok says. “He never settled for mediocrity and he always spoke his mind.”

Descendants Savor Tour of Police Station Named for Family Patriarch

David Stephenson remembers sitting in his father’s olive squad car and fiddling with the Motorola communication device.

See the resemblance? From L-R, Charlie Stephenson, 12, Mark Stephenson and Jack Stephenson, 12 pose next to a photo of the former chief

On Friday, the memories came flooding back for the Anaheim dentist, now 73.

He visited police headquarters for the first time since the building was rechristened the “Mark A. Stephenson Police Station” nearly 20 years ago. His father was APD’s longest-serving police chief.

“This is super,” he said. “Really super.”

Stephenson brought his son, also named Mark, and two grandsons, Jack, 14, and Charlie, 12, for the tour and history lesson.

Jack and Charlie had never met their great grandfather, who died in 1992. He was 88.

“Your great grandfather was known as a very tough but very fair police chief,” current police chief John Welter told the boys. “He’s responsible in many ways for setting the high standards for which we’re known today.”

Current Chief John Welter shows off mementos as David Stephenson, son of former chief Mark Stephenson, looks on

Welter shared a letter Walt Disney himself wrote to their great grandfather, dated June 29, 1955. The amusement park had yet to open.

Disney thanked Stephenson, and wrote the department’s support would “greatly contribute to whatever success Disneyland may enjoy.”

Charlie Stephenson’s reaction: “Whoa.”

Stephenson was an Anaheim Police officer for 42 years and served as chief from 1946-1969.

When he started, APD employed 11 officers. By the time he retired there were 288.

Today, there are nearly 400.

Former Chief Mark Stephenson

Pictures of Stephenson – and from his era – are displayed outside the chief’s office, in the briefing room and elsewhere in the department.

Sgt. Rick Martinez, the department’s public information officer, met and interviewed the former chief. He shared several anecdotes, including one about how Stephenson won support for a new jail.

Forensics supervisor Jim Conley talks about evidence gathering with the Stephenson family. The bottles were gathered from a party where a homicide occurred

“He told a newspaper reporter that we had the worst jail north of Tijuana. That quote was picked up everywhere. Folks in the city weren’t happy about the comment,” Martinez said. “But he got his jail.”

He also changed the color of the uniforms from navy blue to tan because “it was cooler during the hot summers,” Martinez said.

David Stephenson said he enjoyed spending a few hours reminiscing about his father – and sharing his contributions with his son and grandsons.

“It feels really good to be here again,” he said.

APD and Partners Provide Free Car Seats to 32 Families

A properly installed child seat reduces an infant’s risk of dying in a car wreck by 71 percent.

CHP safety coordinator Tina Buell buckles Noah Sandoval, 4

For older youngsters, it’s 54 percent.

For four hours Friday, Anaheim Police Department and California Highway Patrol officials installed more than 50 car seats for 32 families at the Anaheim Family Justice Center.

“It makes me feel more secure knowing my children are as safe as possible,” said Shawna Sandoval, of Fullerton. “It’s so nice of everybody involved to give us these car seats, and to make sure it’s
fastened properly.”

Kerith Dilley, Executive Director of the AFJC Foundation, said the seats were a gift from the National Latino Peace Officers Association of Orange County.  

The event was hosted by State Sen. Lou Correa. His office also offered fingerprinting for children – to provide a record, just in case.

“Most of the families who received them today have limited financial resources, which makes the gift even more significant,” Dilley said. “We are blessed in Anaheim to have so many community partners committed to keeping the community safe.”

Police Officers No Longer Have to ‘Suck It Up’

Talking about it still brings retired Anaheim police chief Jimmie Kennedy to tears.

A drunk driver crossed the double yellow line, and smashed into a car filled with a Utah family headed to Disneyland.

The mother died instantly.

Retired police chief Jimmie Kennedy tells Deputy Chief Craig Hunter that he rarely talks about trauma he witnessed

Kennedy scooped the infant off the floorboard.

And held her as she gasped for the last time.

He recalls the scene in vivid detail.

Even now. 

Nearly 50 years later.

A 30-year-old patrol officer, Staci Dietz searched the ransacked home of an elderly woman whose car was stolen.

She and four colleagues couldn’t find her.

Until an officer moved a blanket near the bottom of a pile of overturned drawers.

Feet popped out.

The 84-year-old woman was raped and tortured, then beaten to death by a burglar.

That was January.

Six months later, Dietz raced to another horrifying scene.

A five-year-old boy told a dispatcher that Daddy killed Mommy, shot his 3-year-old brother, then killed himself.

Officer Staci Dietz talks with retired chief Kennedy and Heather Williams from CSP Victim Assistance Program

Inside the home, Dietz – who has an infant son of her own – sprinted past two dead bodies sprawled in pools of dried blood.

Where were the boys?

She found the 3-year-old on his back near trash cans on the side of the house. Shot three times. Conscious but not moving.

As she carried him to paramedics, she held him as if he was her son.

Miraculously, the boy survived.

Dietz later watched his 5-year-old brother recount the violent death of his parents as if he had just watched them on a cartoon.

“It was like a scene out of a movie,” she says.


Heather Williams isn’t a psychologist or a cop, but she debriefed Dietz after both killings.

“It’s important for those involved in unimaginable crimes such as these to talk about what they saw – and how it made them feel,” said Williams, program director with CSP Victim Assistance Program and coordinator of its Crisis Response Team.

Williams and her team respond to bank robberies, homicides and other situations that cause trauma to a community.

“The research shows that dealing with the emotional impact right away is important for long-term mental health of those involved,” she says.

Williams and Dietz talk about how CSP works with officers following traumatic incidents

As a career, police officer ranks third among occupations in premature death rates. The number of cops who kill themselves each year is about double the number who are killed, according to the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress.

Mental health is a concern.

“Police work is tough: no question about it,” says Anaheim Deputy Police Chief Craig Hunter. “The Crisis Response Team is one example of how our police department is working creatively to ensure the health of our police officers.”

But it’s not  just police officers who Williams and her team aid, Hunter said.

“Major crime incidents can deal an emotional blow to an entire neighborhood and even an entire community,” he said. “Another benefit of us offering the Crisis Response Team is the impact it has helping victims, witnesses and everybody else touched by crime. It’s part of our commitment to offer a higher level of customer service.”

Williams, Dietz and Hunter

In May, Orange County Credit Union branch manager Eleanor Heng and five employees huddled in a locked vault as a masked gunman screamed: “OPEN THE DOOR!”

Heng had ushered her employees into the vault before the robber burst in at closing time.

Suddenly, Heng heard the clicking sound of the vault’s security code. 

At gunpoint, the robber forced an employee who had been in the bathroom to enter the code.

Even though nobody was injured, and the robber was arrested a few hours later, Heng and her team were shaken up.

“It was very disturbing and unsettling,” she said. “It was a big help and relief to have Heather and CSP’s Crisis Response Team there immediately afterward to talk to us about what happened.

“I don’t think any of us slept the following night,” she added, noting the teller who had the gun to her head met with Williams for multiple sessions.

It isn’t just the tragic death of the Utah mother and baby that haunts Kennedy, the former police chief. 

He recalls the wife of one of his police officers.

Days after their baby drowned, she used her husband’s gun to kill herself.

In the 1960s, there was no police chaplain, police psychologist – and certainly not a Crisis Response Team, he said.

Kennedy, 76, acknowledges that he rarely talks about the trauma he witnessed during his career.

“I saw a lot of situations where a professional debrief would have helped a lot,” Kennedy says. “I started in 1958. Back then, ‘suck it up’ really was what we had to do.”

Kennedy retired as Anaheim’s police chief in 1987 and from working altogether in 1999, four years before a madman killed two people inside an Irvine supermarket with a samurai sword.

That was the CRT’s first critical incident. 

Kennedy was unaware of its existence until the January killing of Bessie Whyman, the 84-year-old woman killed in January.

Kennedy went to church with Whyman.

“They knocked on doors in the neighborhood, and organized a community meeting,” he said. “There was a great deal of anger toward the suspect. They did a splendid job informing everybody about the criminal justice process. A lot of questions were asked. Sometimes there are no answers. 

Williams with Hunter and Kennedy

“I don’t know anybody who didn’t feel a little bit better afterward.” 

Kennedy says he was pleased to see the extent to which his old police department was trying to help the community – and its officers – deal with the psychological impact of traumatic incidents. 

“When a baby dies in your arms, it’s really tough,” he says. “We know too well what happens when officers carry these things around.”

Dietz, the patrolwoman, thought she was fine following the Whyman killing.

Until she started talking about it.

“To actually be there, to find it … Bessie will stick with me forever,” she says. “We were all affected by it, her age and what took place. It’s a mental picture I will never forget.”

For a few weeks afterward, she admits feeling nervous when she was home alone.

Then, she had to go to court to testify and see the crime-scene photos.
“It brought back a lot of feelings,” she says. 

More feelings emerged after the murder-suicide and shooting of the 3-year-old boy.

“It’s my job. I knew what I was getting myself in to,” she says. “I want to help people, and if I have to walk through dead bodies to do it, I will.”

She visited the boy in the hospital.

“I felt I needed to do that,” she says. “It made me feel better. I wanted to take him home with me.”

Dietz said it’s hard for her to verbalize feelings. She is unsure if she would have talked to anybody if CRT wasn’t around. She’s glad they are.

“It probably helps me more than I know,” she said. “It’s got to be better than keeping it all inside.”