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Communication, relationships key for police

Lt. Tim Schmidt

Lt. Tim Schmidt

When the police department appointed its first full-time public information officer two decades ago, the Anaheim Bulletin/Orange County Register was Anaheim’s primary source of police news and information.

Back then, more residents had surfed Orange County’s famed beaches than the Internet. The police department didn’t have a website. Mark Zuckerburg, the founder of Facebook, was in grade school.

The police department was ahead of its time, professionalizing its communications.

It still is.

Anaheim PD was one of the first police agencies in California to embrace social media, creating the “Behind the Badge” news site four years ago. Since then, it has amassed 3,600 Facebook followers, sends regular updates on breaking news out via Twitter and still works hard and smart to meet the needs of traditional print and television media – in multiple languages.

Newly promoted Lt. Bob Dunn was the third sergeant to serve as “PIO.”  He played a critical role in the department’s transparent and authentic communications with the community and media during and following last summer’s unrest. And he was the first to lead communications for both the police and fire departments. With the promotion, Dunn returns to patrol with deserved admiration – like his predecessors, retired Sgts. Joe Vargas and Rick Martinez.

Interim Police Chief Raul Quezada plans to build upon Dunn’s successes and find new ways to build relationships and improve communication with the community.

He has tapped Lt. Tim Schmidt to lead the formation of a public-affairs bureau – elevating the responsibility from a sergeant to lieutenant and adding more focus to community engagement.

Schmidt, a Magnolia High School graduate who still resides in Anaheim, most recently led APD’s gang unit. In the past year, gang crime is down significantly: gang shootings have plummeted to 15 from 42 and stabbings and beatings have dropped to 17 from 58.

Schmidt is also no stranger to communications, having served in the back-up PIO role.

“How can we get more residents engaged and involved in what we’re doing, from fighting crime to helping us spread safety information?” he asks. “And how do we get residents more involved who live in neighborhoods where Spanish is the predominant language at home?”

Those are among the myriad questions he’s asking – and the issues he plans to tackle.

And he wants help wherever he can find it.

Got an idea about how Anaheim PD can provide more or better information?

Send Schmidt a email at tschmidt@anaheim.net.

Civilian rises to rank of Division Commander

Shelley McKerren

Shelley McKerren

By Anthony F. Irwin

The Anaheim Police Department announced during a ceremony at the police department this week the appointment of its first civilian division commander and other accomplishments within the department.

On Wednesday, Shelley McKerren was appointed to Division Commander of APD’s Support Services Division, where she will manage information technology, dispatch, records and property and evidence. She is the first non-sworn employee in the department’s more than 100-year history to rise to a command-level position.

“It’ll be great for someone with such an extensive background in communications to fulfill such a crucial role,” Interim Police Chief Raul Quezada said.

McKerren grew up the daughter of a New Jersey reserve police officer and moved to Brea after graduating high school in the top 20 of her class.  She was Brea PD’s first female police cadet.

Years later, she became a police dispatcher at Hungtington Beach PD, where she met her husband, Dan.  She spent many years as a stay-at-home mother but eventually returned to Brea as a part-time police and fire dispatcher.

In July of 1995, she joined APD as Communications Manager and, in 2009, became the full time Information Technology Manager.

Also promoting were Lt. Bob Dunn, Sgts. Brian Browne, Chris Masilon, and Jeff Mundy; and Anna Vasquez as a dispatcher.  Sgt. Michael Bustamante and Officer Michael Brannigan retired after serving APD for a combined 64 years.

Earlier this year, Brannigan received the Life Saving Award after already earning Officer of the Year Award in 1999 and the Distinguished Service Award in 2005.  He and Ofc. Minh Nguyen worked together to revive a 53-year-old man having what could have been a fatal heart attack.

In his time at the department, Bustamante received the Special Recognition Award for revising the Field Training Officer Manual and Critical Task list.

Newly minted Lt. Bob Dunn most recently served as the public information officer, and has earned praise for his communications efforts during and after last summer’s unrest.

Popeye, Anaheim police’s dope dog, succumbs to cancer

Anaheim Police's late dope dog Popeye

APD’s late dope dog, Popeye

After four years of sniffing out drugs for Anaheim Police’s narcotics unit, Popeye, a seven-year-old Labrador from Texas, has passed away from cancer, officials said today.

The dope dog’s four-year career started in October 2009, and he joined the department after several business leaders donated the money. A persistent narcotics investigator pushed to add a full-time dope dog to help the team in its efforts to prevent the use and sale of drugs in Anaheim.

“I never thought I’d keep a dog’s ashes, but Popeye’s ashes are above my fireplace,” said Popeye’s handler. “He used to wander around the office, he was kind of the celebrity of the station.”

Popeye’s police career began gloriously. On his first day, he helped narcotics investigators sniff out 12 kilos of cocaine. His biggest bust: 208 kilogram shipment of cocaine to Canada, which police estimate had a street value of $6 million.

Ken Greenleaf, the canine trainer at APD, believes Labradors are better suited for detecting drugs than other breeds because of an intensified sense of smell.  At APD, Popeye was the only lab; the rest are German shepherds.

That’s not what his handler will remember about the difference between the breeds.

He trained Popeye differently. He said the training was more centered on playing games compared to the Shepherds’ regimented training program.

“It was always play-time.  He would get so excited when it was time to work because he knew he was gonna get to play,” he said.

When asked what he’ll miss most about Popeye, he struggled to name one thing.

“He was a part of the family,” he said.  “My family would fight over who got to dog-sit him when we went out of town.  He represented a part of home at the office and the best parts of the office at home.  I think I’ll miss our conversations the most, though.  I never realized how much I used to talk to him.  I’ll definitely miss that.”

Kaiser Permanente Orange County invests in violence prevention, awards $15K to Orange County Family Justice Center Foundation

Kaiser Permanente Orange County awarded a $15,000 grant to the Orange County Family Justice Center (OCFJC) Foundation, an Anaheim-based nonprofit. The grant was publicly recognized during OCFJC Foundation’s Kids Creating Change Graduation. Kaiser Photo_Check Presentation

The Kaiser Permanente grant will be earmarked to support the hiring of a part-time program manager to oversee OCFJC Foundations’ programs, including Kids Creating Change, Reel Teens/Real Talk, Back to School, Adopt-A-Family and YMCA Camp Partnership.

Kids Creating Change and Reel Teens/Real Talk – Youth Violence Prevention Programs

Kids Creating Change and Reel Teens/Real Talk is a 20-hour program that empowers young people with the necessary knowledge and skills to break the cycle of abuse. Children who witness violence at home and in the community need to develop healthy nonviolent strategies to respond to every-day stresses and that is why Kids Creating Change and Reel Teens/Real Talk was created. As of September 2013, they’ve graduated 379 youth from these programs.

“Kaiser Permanente’s investment in preventing violence among those at-risk – youth who are exposed to violence at home and in their neighborhoods – is inspiring. This grant allows the hiring of a part-time program manager for six months, who will manage all our programs”, says Kerith Dilley, OCFJC Foundation executive director. “This is adding much-needed infrastructure to better coordinate our violence prevention and direct victim services in order to break the cycle of violence.”

According to county data, since 2005, more than 3,000 felony and 13,000 misdemeanor domestic violence cases have been filed with the Orange County District Attorney’s office, and each year more than 3,000 women and children enter domestic violence shelters.

“Breaking the cycle of violence is a group effort,” said Program Manager Idalia Lazo-Bautista.  “I feel very fortunate to work with the children and youth in the City of Anaheim and surrounding cities, as we work together to break this vicious cycle through our Kids Creating Change and Reel Teens/Real Talk programs.”

Kids Creating Change is made possible, thanks to the generosity of: Kaiser Permanente, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California, Target, Anaheim Community Foundation, In-N-Out Burger Foundation, Sempra Energy, Anaheim Rotary and Anaheim Hills Rotary and Southern California Edison.

About Orange County Family Justice Center Foundation.

Established in 2006, the OCFJC Foundation is a nonprofit created to financially maintain the many social services needed to empower survivors of family crimes to lead sustainable and violent-free lives. The OCFJC Foundation achieves this goal through fundraising events and campaigns. OCFJC Foundation offers youth violence prevention programs and direct victim assistance. To learn more about OCFCJ Foundation please visit their website at http://www.ocfjcfoundation.org, or call Kerith Dilley, OCFJC Foundation executive director at 714-765-1618.

About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 3.5 million members in Southern California. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health. Kaiser Permanente Orange County currently serves more than 460,000 members through a network of approximately 6,300 employees and 960 physicians.  For more information, go to: http://www.kp.org/newscenter.

Family Justice Center adds John Welter to name

Chief Welter

Chief Welter

By Anthony F. Irwin

Officials announced at a luncheon Thursday that the Orange County Family Justice Center is adding “John Welter” to its name.

It was Welter, the Anaheim police chief who retired this year, who brought the concept of a family justice center to Orange County.

Welter said he was humbled by the recognition and hoped city leaders would continue to work to end what he calls “the cycle of violence.”

“I’m so excited about the progress we’ve made in such a short amount of time and where we’re headed,” he said.

The center opened as the Anaheim Family Justice Center in 2006 and has served thousands of victims of sexual abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse and more. It has also created dynamic, interactive courses to provide women and children the tools and self-esteem to leave dangerous relationships.

“Far too many young people grow up in a world of violence,” said Kerith Dilley, the OCFJC Foundation’s Executive Director.  “We’re here to end that cycle.”

Fire Chief Randy Bruegman thanked Welter for his service to the city – and leadership in the area of ending family violence – before announcing the City Council had approved the name change.

“What we’re seeing in this room is one man’s vision,” he said.

The announcement drew a standing ovation.

Anaheim’s was the second such justice center in the U.S. The first opened in San Diego, and Welter played a key role in its formation before moving to Anaheim.

The center is now called the John Welter Orange County Family Justice Center.

 

Seven-year-old Leukemia patient turns superhero in Make-A-Wish, police partnership

Interim Chief Raul Quezada and other Anaheim police gather around Lelenoa, his mother, and Batman

Interim Chief Raul Quezada and other Anaheim police gather around Lelenoa, his mother, and Batman

By Anthony F Irwin

The Anaheim Police Department partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to give Alex Lelenoa, a seven- year-old Leukemia patient from Anaheim, the chance to fight crime alongside his hero, Batman, and APD officers.

Before he fought crime, Lelenoa first was sworn in by Chief Raul Quezada.

“It was great to help such a strong young man in his situation,” said Quezada.  “It’s nothing short of inspirational to see him deal with his illness with that great smile.”

After the ceremony with the chief, introduction to Batman, and wardrobe change, – a “Robin” costume was given to him at the station – Lelenoa was escorted by several patrol cars to Knott’s Berry Farm for his first encounter.

A number of “Crooked Cowboys” ambushed a Sherriff’s Deputy in the park and only Lelenoa’s special ability to freeze his foes with a bracelet given to him by Batman could wrangle them up.

The Dynamic Duo then made their way to Pirates Dinner Adventure off Beach Boulevard to see to some “Pillaging Pirates” that held a couple pirate-women hostage.  Lelenoa used his special power to freeze the pirates and free the damsels in distress.

After a brief snack time, it was off to Angel stadium, where the Batmobile was waiting.

Lelenoa got a ride in the Batmobile to the location of his main target, the Riddler.  The group made an explosive entrance to a warehouse on La Palma and was met by The Riddler and several henchmen.

Lelenoa froze the gang and helped drag the Riddler to “Bear.”  With his nemesis in custody, Lelenoa said, “We got him! Thanks, everyone! I can’t believe we got him!”

When the Riddler asked if he and Lelenoa could still be friends, Robin responded “Only if you promise not to do bad things anymore.”

Having taken care of all the bad guys, it was time for Robin to make his heroic return to the station.  More than 200 people, including Mayor Tom Tait, Mayor Pro Tem Gail E. Eastman, Councilwoman Kris Murray, and Anaheim High School’s cheer squad gathered in APD’s parking lot to cheer him on.

Lelenoa and his mother, Elizabeth Stoffer, received a gift basket from Sephora, an official APD police badge, and tickets to watch the Anaheim Ducks’ season opener.

Stoffer, on her son’s wish come true: “I don’t know what to say, I just can’t stop smiling.”