by Carolyn Seitz
Carolyn Seitz has been Altadena's premiere public safety volunteer, and was Citizen of the Year for 2010. She recently sent out this email to the newsgroups.
The Sheriff's Station, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department have been in the process of major change you see reflected in their growing use of social media. Both the Department and the Station now have new webpages, Facebook pages and they tweet. They also use Nixle as a way to push information out to the public.
I've been the facilitator of communication between the community and the Station for a few years, making sure the Captain and Lieutenants know what's on your mind and helping make sure that your issues are addressed. That is changing.
I've also monitored Altadenablog, AOL/Patch and the local listservs to make sure that some information being shared there was reviewed by the Sheriff's Station when you've been talking to each other about crime, suspicious activity, complaints about the Station or compliments about the Station. That now will also change.
I bought a home in New Mexico in 2004 with a plan to live there full-time by the Fall of 2009. Thankfully, that plan was written in pencil and has been updated many times. Even though I haven't yet moved to New Mexico, it's time for me to turn my attention to spending more time with my 89 year old father and other things I need to do to take care of myself.
I have resigned as a Volunteer for the Sheriff's Station, but will still be in Altadena for a while, and it's important to me that you know I'll still be here supporting the Sheriff's Station and community. Captain John Benedict, Lieutenant Duane Allen and Lieutenant Mike White are working hard to absorb the responsibilities I've been managing the last few years. This includes a resource and contact list that I hope - and the Sheriff's Station hopes -- will be useful to you.
Before I post that list, I'd like to say some things to all of you who are reading this message. We have been standing together to support our community for several years as we've dealt with adversity or had great reasons to celebrate. We pulled together during the Station Fire and the mud/flood/debris flow season that impacted the northwest part of Altadena the following winter. We rose to the challenge the windstorm that started November 30th brought and the inconvenience it was, especially for those who had no power for 8 days, and we've been dealing with dramatic increases in residential burglaries and vehicle burglaries.
Over the last 5 years, at least 30 Neighborhood Watch groups have formed, reorganized or been reinvigorated. Neighborhoods are focusing themselves on disaster preparedness and the Sheriff's Station has been developing a structure for neighborhood-based preparation we hope will have all of us better prepared to deal with the next catastrophic event. Hundreds of people in Altadena have completed CERT trainings and while I've been the CERT coordinator for a few years, there is a group of dedicated volunteers who have stepped up to work with Lieutenant Allen and Captain Benedict to continue to build that program and community disaster preparedness.
(That's also a hint to those of you who haven't yet done a CERT training or who have resisted doing what you need to do to be prepared - today is a good day to start.)
The organized program to support neighborhood-based preparedness is moving forward nicely, so look for a notice from your neighbors inviting you to learn more, or to connect with each other since your neighbor is your first line of defense in a disaster, or speak up if you're ready to step up and take responsibility for organizing your neighborhood yourself. Let Lieutenant Duane Allen know you are ready and he'll help guide you.
Five years ago, there was a very fractured relationship between the Sheriff's Station and the community. The three captains who've been in Altadena since 2007 have worked tirelessly to change that, and to build a much stronger relationship. Captain Benedict readily admits there is still work to be done on this issue and he's ready and willing to hear from you, so don't be shy. Want him to come talk to your neighborhood? Want to meet with him yourself? You can call him at 626 296 2100. His email address is JSBenedi@lasd.org .
Let Captain Benedict know if the Deputies have rendered extraordinary service or done something really well. Please also let him know what they can be doing better. If you've had an issue with lack of response, slow response, or the deputies or the station hasn't provided service at the level you expected, it's even more important for him to know that. He may not know he has a problem or that he and his team are not meeting your expectations unless you tell him.
Some people still won't report crime, thinking the crime that happened was too small. If you aren't reporting crime, please don't sit on that information. It can help the Sheriff's Station know when more resources are needed and where they should be directed. If they don't know it's happening, you're doing a disservice to your neighborhood and the neighborhood next to you. If you're not comfortable calling the Captain, call Lieutenant Allen at 626 296 2102 or email him at DDAllen@lasd.org and let him know. No reason to complain to each other. Complain in a way that will help focus attention on the issue so it can be addressed. You will be heard.
Here are some resources that will help you know whom to call or email for help:
- If you have an emergency - dial 9 1 1. Keep in mind that if you dial 9 1 1 from a cell phone, your call may be directed to the California Highway Patrol and to an office in some other part of the State. They will need very specific information from you so they can get your call directed to the Sheriff's Station. 9 1 1 calls from a landline or through some cell providers is answered at the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station. Again, it is important to provide very specific information about where you are and the nature of the emergency.
- See suspicious activity, or odd or unusual behavior in your neighborhood? Call 626 798 1131. Please give the person answering the phone as much information as you can about what you are observing, describe the people you see, describe their vehicles as long as you can do that from a safe distance, what activity are you observing. Tell the deputy your name and give them a way to contact you in case they need more info from you, or they need to let you know there will be a delayed response.
- Sheriff's Station not meeting your expectation? Have concerns you feel are not being addressed? Call Captain John Benedict - 626 296 2100 or email him at JSBenedi@lasd.org . Not comfortable talking to the Captain, then call Lieutenant Duane Allen at 626 296 2102 or email him at DDAllen@lasd.org . They are here to serve you and if there's a problem, they need to know and they want to know. Has the Sheriff's Station provided outstanding service and you'd like for Captain Benedict to know that? Please call or email him. If the Deputies actions have exceeded your expectations, it's important for the Captain to know what's working and to give that Deputy a pat on the back.
- Interested in organizing or reinvigorating Neighborhood Watch in your area? Call Lieutenant Mike White at 626 296 2131 or email him at MAWhite@lasd.org or Sergeant Mike Randenberg at 626 296 2106 or email MDRanden@lasd.org .
- Want to become a Station Volunteer or Volunteer on Patrol or a member of the Captain's Community Advisory Committee? Contact Lieutenant Mike White or Sergeant Mike Randenberg.
- Want Neighborhood Watch to be focused on disaster preparedness? Want information about upcoming CERT trainings? Contact Lieutenant Duane Allen. 626 296 2102 or DDAllen@lasd.org .
- Altadena Station's website: www.altadena.lasd.org Altadena Station's Facebook page: www.facebook.com/AltadenaSheriffsStation?ref=ts Altadena Station's Twitter account: @LASDALD Captain Benedict's Twitter account: @jbLASD
- Sign up for Nixle: www.nixle.com
- Have concerns about old mattresses or furniture dumped in the street or at the curb? Concerned about pot holes, street lights out, dead trees in the parkway, line of sight visibility issues, allegations/concerns about illegal construction? Other neighborhood nuisance issues - not crime related? Call Sussy Nemer at Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich's Pasadena Field Office at 626 356 5407, or email her at SNemer@bos.lacounty.gov .
As a final note, it has been a privilege to serve you for more than ten years, the last five and a half of which have been as a Volunteer for the Sheriff's Station. Many of you have become my close friends and many are like family to me. These years have been among the most rewarding of my life and working together, we've accomplished a great deal for our community - from closing problematic liquor stores to looking out for each other when the foothills we love so much were burning, or when some were isolated and in complete darkness for a brief period that first night of the windstorm when some neighborhoods did end up completely isolated. It's also been a privilege and a profoundly rewarding experience to serve the Sheriff's Station and the fine men and women who put their lives on the line every day.
Altadena's residents are strong and resilient and time and again, have risen to the challenges of the moment with a generosity of spirit and attitude when some families have suffered terrible tragedy as victims of violence or they've lost a child in a tragic accident. We work together in those times to take care of our neighbors, our friends, our families and the community at large. I'm very proud of the progress my community has made at becoming a community, engaged, active, committed to being ready for the next surprise and standing up to protect each other from being victims of crime.
With respect and admiration, as always, take care of yourselves - stay safe!
Do you have a message for Carolyn? Put it in the comments!