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Burglars hit 12 churches in Anaheim

Burglars are prying and smashing their way into churches across the city and county, stealing donation boxes, guitars, computers and other valuables, police said.

There have been 12 such burglaries in Anaheim since January – and nine since April, said Sgt. Jim Cossin.

The burglars aren’t just hitting Anaheim churches. Santa Ana, Irvine and other cities have reported similar crimes. Santa Ana Police recently made an arrest, and Cossin said police have video that shows that one of the suspects in the Santa Ana caper is involved in at least one of the Anaheim burglaries.

Church burglaries weren’t the only issue on the agenda at the police department’s monthly crime analysis meeting.  There’s been a series of auto burglaries, commercial burglaries are up and there have been more reported rapes this year than last, though detectives in most of the cases say the victims knew the perpetrator.

But the overall crime picture is relatively good, when all things are considered. Violent crime is down, and property crime is up but just slightly.

But officers are busy. There have been 43,690 calls for service in 2013, up 2 percent from the same time period last year.

Also on the agenda: the sharing of crime information.

Interim Police Chief Raul Quezada said the crime analysis department will be soon adding more crime data to the police department’s website. He asked for suggestions on what type of information to add.

Among the ideas: traffic citations, DUI arrests, collisions, response times and Anaheim’s most wanted.

Sergeant enjoys keeping fans safe

By Ariella Rams

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Anaheim’s citizen’s academy students took a fieldtrip this week to the Anaheim Angels Stadium for a course on special events.

“We have a professional hockey team, a professional baseball team, the Grove and the Convention Center,” Sgt. Jerry Blair, who joined the PD in 1990. “We have 360 events per year that we staff, not including Disney or individual traffic control.”

Anaheim PD’s special events detail contracts for anything as small as a quincenera or high school football games.

“All officers have their regular jobs doing patrol or homicide, and so on,” says Sgt. Blair. “They can put themselves on a list to volunteer for events, and I work out a schedule that will fit the events and the officers alike.”

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No matter the event, the number one concern of the department is safety. Even if the event goes seemingly flawlessly, the first thing Sgt. Blair does is look to see how it can be made safer.

At Angels Stadium, there are between 31,000 to 33,000 attendees nightly.

“We make it safer by patrolling the parking lots before hand,” he says. “No one wants a $300 drinking ticket, but we don’t want fights or homicides on our hands either. This is a great way to prevent that and keep the venue and everyone that attends safe.”

Sgt. Blair then took the class on a walking tour of the stadium—from the media box seats, to the dugout suits and finally, into the dugout.

“I grew up in Anaheim, I used to buy the $4.75 tickets for way up in the nosebleeds,” he told the class. “Now I work here, in the stadium. I’m here every day and I love it. I genuinely love the guys I work with and the opportunity this position in the Police Department has given me.”

Center renamed to honor Chief Welter

The Anaheim Family Justice Center and its home have new names.

The center is now called the Orange County Family Justice Center to reflect its expanding service area.

And the facility will be renamed after retiring Police Chief John Welter to honor his vision in creating it.

About 150 city and business leaders gathered at Anaheim Hilton last week and raised more than $50,000 to support the expanding center, which aims to stop the cycle of violence by providing services to women, children and elderly victims.

The highlight of the evening was a speech by a young survivor named Sarah, who was nearly beaten to death by an ex-boyfriend. She said it was the justice center and Anaheim police officers who saved her life, and then were by her side through every step of the legal process – from helping her recover physically to accompanying her at court appearances.

Sarah said the center “made sure my voice was heard and calmed my anxiety. I cannot express an appropriate thank you. I will never stop thanking you for how you turned my world right side up.”

It’s helping women like Sarah that led Welter to create the center seven years ago. As a young detective in San Diego, Welter said it “hurt my heart” to see children at violence calls “cowering in the corner.”

Since the center opened, it has served more than 20,000 families.

“What are women like Sarah going to do?” Welter asked. “Who’s going to help them? The reason why so many women return to abusive relationships is because they don’t have any choice. … We are making a real difference in people’s lives.”

At the event, Councilwoman Lucille Kring announced plans to rename the building after Welter. Kerith Dilley, the Foundation’s executive director, also renamed the annual Community Partner award after the chief. This year’s recipient, Barbara and Greg Gerovac, owners of Anaheim Brewery, donate $1 for every barrel of beer they brew, as they have since they opened. The foundation also honored Skechers as its corporate partner for providing 351 pairs of new shoes to children victims over the past four years.

Welter was involved in the creation of the world’s first justice center in San Diego 11 years ago. Today, there are 80. Welter said he plans to spend time during retirement helping to grow the number.

This story was published on OCRegister.com.