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Remains return home, thanks to Anaheim police

Spend enough time around the Anaheim Police Department, and you’ll hear plenty of inspiring tales of heroism.

For example, in December, on his second-to-last shift before retiring, Sgt. Tom Mathisen saved the life of a drowning baby. It was a remarkable last chapter to a distinguished 40-year career.

But it’s not just police officers who go above and beyond the call of duty to serve the public.

Nicole Rapp spends much of her time booking property and other evidence into the department’s warehouse.

Not too long ago, she ran across an unusual item – an urn filled with the cremated remains of a woman. The protocol? Dispose of them.

That didn’t feel right – so Rapp played detective.

The urn arrived at the police department following the death of Anaheim resident Robert Harshbarger, who didn’t have any survivors.

Rapp found paperwork that said the remains belonged to Dorene Hollinger, his former girlfriend. She had died in 2009. Sorting through the paperwork, she saw that Hollinger had a brother in Joplin, Mo. She reached out to the Joplin police department, which dispatched an officer to the brother’s house.

A week later, Rapp’s phone rang. The brother, Leo Winchester, 93, said his sister always wanted to be buried in Missouri. Rapp arranged to have the urn sent to Missouri.

A few months later, Rapp received a package from Missouri. It included photos of Hollinger, her final resting place and a note of appreciation, which rests on Rapp’s desk.

“It reminds me of the difference one person can make,” she said. “And why I love my job.”

Rapp isn’t the only employee to receive a letter of appreciation recently. Police Chief John Welter shared with employees a letter from a 14-year Anaheim resident, thanking him for the work his employees do.

“When I see your presence in front of Canyon High School in the mornings, I smile, knowing that you are keeping our kids safe. When I see you slowly driving along a local neighborhood street, I feel protected. When you whiz past me – sirens blaring – I know that you are rushing to the aid of someone who desperately needs it. … Thank you for contributing so much to our community and most of all, for providing us all with a safe, secure environment.”

Visit the story on OCRegister.com.

Polygraphs reveal hidden secrets

By Kevin Rice

Have you ever done anything you’re not proud of? Something you may have done on a whim when you were a teenager?

Maybe just once? Maybe you haven’t thought of it in years, but you are now.

Is this something you want to volunteer in a job interview? Maybe you can get away with lying about it?

Nope.

Officer Vince Delgado’s job is to delve deep into your memory and probe every locked up secret you may have.

It may not seem like it, but his job is not to intimidate, but rather to get straight to the point. The 11-year Anaheim Police polygraph examiner takes pride in his craft, and detailed exactly what one could expect from a 2-3 hour polygraph examination during this week’s PACE citizen’s academy class.

In fact, Delgado explained the complete interview process a police applicant can expect. There are no surprises, and no trick questions. He explained that each applicant is given a 150-page book, of which the test questions are derived.

He explained that only two of every 100 applicants are selected.

“If they study, they will pass,” Delgado said in a matter-of-fact tone.

The second speaker, Field Training Officer Sheddi Skeete, spoke about the importance of the police academy, field training and patrol procedures.

Officer Skeete is passionate about field training, and feels that “street cops” like himself should maintain a high physical fitness, and should always show respect to the citizens they encounter.

“You never know when you may need help, and that citizen you respected could come running to your aid,” Skeete stressed.

Skeete takes his job very seriously, and the enthusiasm he shows is infectious.

Anaheim Police Chief John Welter pointed out how only the top candidates can make  it through Anaheim’s rigorous training and testing. The high level of competition makes the selection process that much better.

Delgado mentioned that “[Anaheim PD] really takes care of business because we have the right people working here.”

Welter interjected, saying, “We’re only as good as the community that supports us.”

The Anaheim Police Department’s Pace class meets every Monday night from 6-9 p.m.

Next meeting’s agenda includes: air support/helicopters, tactical negotiations and SWAT.

PACE class week three focus: Communications and homicides

By Ariella Rams

For the third week of Anaheim PD’s Public Awareness through Citizen Education program, dispatcher Ryan Dedmon and Detective John Duran came to speak about Anaheim Police communications and homicides.image

Dedmon, part of the communications force for nearly 12 years, discussed the importance, protocol and significance of 9-1-1 dispatchers.

“There are 30 dispatchers and 400,000 residents in Anaheim,” Dedmon said. “Plus a Ducks game, add 40,000. Plus an Angels game, add 50,000. Plus the Home and Garden Show, add 100,000. That’s not even including regular tourists.”

There are about a million people in the city at any given time, making Anaheim the busiest communications center in Orange County- for Dedmon, a typical day can net hundreds of calls.

Anaheim 9-1-1 dispatch will first assess a call to see if it is a medical or fire emergency, in which case it will be transferred to the Anaheim Fire Department’s dispatch. If it is a public safety emergency, police will respond.

“First we screen calls and if I need to transfer you I will,” Dedmon said. “Otherwise I will stay on the phone with you until help arrives.”

Dedmon went on to speak about the relatively new introduction of cell phones to emergency communication. When someone calls from a cell phone, the nearest cell phone tower processes the call. Because the cell tower, if you’re in the city, is in Anaheim, the call will be sent to Anaheim Dispatch.

If there is a public emergency, like a car crash or shooting, and many people call in, cell towers can get clogged. This makes the next calls bounce off the local tower and transmit from the next.

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“It’s the best and worst thing that’s happened to emergency communication,” Dedmon said. “If the towers are clogged, other emergencies may not be able to come in.”

Also with the use of cell phones, false 9-1-1 calls have become more common. 80-85% of all 9-1-1 calls are non-emergent. This can be due to misuse of the system or accidental dialing.

Often, people will call and hang up, in which case dispatchers will call back until they can find sufficient information to find out the potential emergency of the call.

Another aspect of communication is non-emergent calls. These are calls for non-emergency police assistance, filing a police report, bail information, general services, or general information.

Anaheim Police Department is on the forefront of pioneering a 3-1-1 number to access that information, Dedmon told the class.

Following Dedmon to speak about Anaheim homicide was Det. Duran who has spent the last 15 years in the homicide department, 23 total on the force.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, when “people were drive-by crazy,” the record high homicide for one year was 42. In the past 10 years, the numbers have been kept in the low teens, to single digits. To date for 2013, Anaheim is at 4.

Personally, Det. Duran has dealt with more than 200 homicides and almost three times the number of dead body cases.

With a job that can, at times, be morbid, Det. Duran said he tries not to become emotionally involved.

Homicides aren’t the only crimes detectives on Duran’s team investigate. They deals with resisting or obstructing police officers or any emergency personnel, mayhem (permanent disfiguring), stalking, kidnapping for ransom, brandishing a deadly weapon, criminal threats, discharge of a firearm into an inhabited dwelling or vehicle, assault with a deadly weapon, custodial deaths and homicide.

Stay tuned for next week’s class, where Investigoar Vince Delgado will speak about Testing, selection and polygraphs, and Officer Sheddi Skeete will talk about the academy and patrol procedures.

A Police Dog’s Life Is Not Too Ruff

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By Kevin Rice

As part of America’s Family Pet Expo, Officers Robert Lopez and Officer Brett Klevos visited Benito Juarez Elementary School Thursday to demonstrate and explain the capabilities of their highly trained four-legged partners.

More than 145 YMCA after-school children delighted in the exhibition.

“These German Shepherd’s are like highly trained athletes,” said Officer Lopez. “They train around 60 hours a week, can run at a top speed of 25 miles per hour and can jump a 6-7 foot wall.”

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Fabian Carrillo, 9, was excited about the demonstration, and “liked how the dogs got the bad guys.”

The German Shepherds are named Ares, 4, and Guenther, 5, lovingly nicknamed “Marmaduke,” thanks to his larger than normal size. They demonstrated their keen sense of smell when the officers had the K-9s perform drug-finding drills.

Katherine Espitia, 9, “enjoyed learning about how the dog trains to find hidden drugs.”

You can catch performances from Police K-9 units along with appearances from other animals at America’s Family Pet Expo, which is happening April 19-21 at the OC Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa.

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Is predicting crime the next frontier in policing?

It’s a question Anaheim police officials constantly ask. How can they do a better job of preventing and solving crime?

Once a month, about 50 police leaders gather to discuss crime data and brainstorm the ways to address that question, which is the core of their mission.

This month, Police Chief John Welter focused for a few minutes on the next frontier – predicting crime.

New software soon to hit the market analyzes five years of crime data to predict hotspots. It looks at location, weather, time of day, time of year and more. The idea: know when and where to deploy officers so they can be there when criminals arrive.

“We have an outstanding Crime Analysis Unit,” Welter said. “But it never hurts to look at new ideas.”

Violent and gang crime is down slightly in early 2013, but robberies, stolen cars and pedestrian accidents are rising.

The number of people hit by cars rose 28 percent, to 182 in 2012. Ten people have been killed since January 2011 – nine between Anaheim Boulevard and Knott Avenue. Fifty seven percent of the collisions resulted in minor or no injuries.

Lt. Mark Cyprien said more people are likely walking or riding bicycles due to the economic downturn. “These people are interacting more with vehicles, which increases the likelihood of pedestrian-related accidents,” he said.

The Police Department is writing more tickets in areas where incidents happened. Officials are also looking at traffic patterns and engineering to find other ways to protect pedestrians.

During a burglary discussion, Crime Analyst Danielle Martell said there have been 194 residential burglaries so far this year. While digging into the data, she discovered residents on the same street where a burglary occurred are twice as likely to be a victim within a week.

In response, volunteers are distributing fliers in neighborhoods like Cerritos Boulevard, between Katella Avenue and Euclid Street, where burglars recently hit 13 homes. Although police have made arrests, they are also increasing surveillance.

One idea broached at the meeting: Can police volunteers go talk to neighbors? Many were in homes where windows were left ajar, though a few burglars smashed windows.

Knowledge is power, and in Anaheim, it’s used to thwart crime and protect residents.

PACE class week two focus: Internal affairs and traffic

By Ariella Rams

It’s week two of the Public Awareness through Citizen Education program.

The topic? Internal affairs and traffic.

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The police department takes officer misconduct complaints seriously, Lt. David Flutts said on Monday night. And last year, there were 44 formal investigations. Of those, 19 came from outside the police department. The rest came from fellow employees, he said.

The functions and duties of the internal affairs department, as outlined by Lt. Flutts, is to conduct administrative investigations, audits throughout Department, ongoing training throughout Department, Training of Department supervisors on Administrative Investigations, and “Custodian of Records” for Departmental personnel in court proceedings.

Lt. Flutts highlighted investigations regarding misconduct. First, you have to determine what the misconduct is according to the department’s rules, policies, procedures and regulations. Then, it is important to determine whether or not the misconduct was done on or off duty he said. Finally, it needs to be defined as criminal or administrative.

“You can’t go off quick images,” Lt. Flutts said. “You can’t go off quick videos or hear-say. That’s why an investigation goes into it.”

Once an administrative investigation is conducted, there are five possible conclusions.

An investigation can be sustained meaning the misconduct was proved. It can be not sustained, meaning the investigator was unable to prove or disprove. It can be exonerated, meaning the officer or employee didn’t violate any rules. It can be unfounded, meaning no proof was found, or it can be an inquiry only, meaning there wasn’t enough information to determine if anything happened.

Following the presentation on internal affairs, Officer John Roman shared his experiences from 18 years at the police department. .

Officer Roman conducts collision investigations on everything “curb to curb.” He helps with hit and run follow up, enforcement, assists drivers in exchanging info if necessary, and calls for service.

“I write more notes than anybody else,” he said. “I take more reports and anybody else.”

Along with describing the importance of collision investigations, Officer Roman shared his experience with fatal accidents- he showed pictures and described many scenes he’s been to.

Each year, there are between 41,000 to 43,000 collision fatalities, and of those, 37-40% involve drivers under the influence.

“So next time you see your buddy about to drive away from the bar, you might want to stop him,” he said.

Upcoming classes – which are designed to give participants a behind-the-scenes look at policing – include Homicide and Firearms Training Simulations.

Please check back here next week for more coverage.

Olympic Hopefuls Find Peace In Boxing Ring

By Kevin C. Rice

Financial and moral support from the Anaheim Police Department has provided coach Art James and Team PunchOut, who represent the Anaheim Boxing Club, with the opportunity to sculpt a group of young, boxing phenoms.

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Jonathan Esquivel and Caitlin Orosco striking a pose

Anaheim Boxing Club is part of the Anaheim Police Department’s Cops 4 Kids program. The boxing program was established to serve

children between the ages of nine and 17 who live or attend school in Anaheim. The goal of the program is to establish positive relationships among youth, police and the community at large.

“This program is great for children in the area,” said coach Art James. “The focus on training and continued support of the Anaheim Police Department and the surrounding community has helped these children grown into respectful young adults, with a bright future in a popular sport.”

Caitlin Orosco, 15, Jonathan Esquivel, 18, have taken to the program with ease. A little natural talent, and years of hard work and training have brought these two Anaheim residents national recognition in the boxing community.

Orosco, the only female in the group of top-notch fighters, has consistently remained a force to be reckoned with. She has already earned a berth to the National Silver Gloves Championships next July, and Orosco will have the opportunity to represent the USA National Junior Olympic Women’s Team in Finland at the end of March, then the Junior Olympic Women’s World Championships in Italy in May.

Esquivel’s potential is just as promising; earning a berth to every national tournament he has entered. Currently, Esquivel is preparing for the USA Nationals, which will be held March 30-April 6. He will be competing in the Elite Male Division of 19-40 year olds under the newly established Olympic rule, which dictates no headgear. Earning a top spot at nationals opens a vast array of possibilities in preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Esquivel, was number three nationally ranked Junior Olympic boxer in 2011.  After a brief hiatus to focus on academics, he has come back to claim the Southern California District Championships and Most Outstanding Boxer in the Elite Male Division this year.

The Anaheim Boxing club is always looking for sponsorships, and is planning to have a fundraising fight night in November. If you are interested in making a donation to Cops 4 Kids and their efforts with the Anaheim Boxing Club, please contact Gina Meza at (714) 493-4631.