The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Emergency Bureau is responsible for coordinating response to terrorism, riots and disturbances, earthquakes, tsunami, fires, floods, civil unrest, jail incidents, gas clouds and major events, said Sergeant John Hargraves, a facilitator with the Emergency Bureau, at a meeting of the Sheriff’s Community Advisory Committee at the Del Rey Yacht Club Monday, January 22nd, in Marina del Rey.
The Emergency Operations Bureau, located in Los Angeles, coordinates all 88 cities in the county and their governments in case of a major disaster, and by law the county sheriff — currently Lee Baca — is the director of all emergency operations for Los Angeles County, Hargraves noted.
The members of the Sheriff’s Advisory Committee are residents of Marina del Rey, Ladera Heights, Windsor Hills, View Park and adjacent unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, and they meet monthly either in the Marina or in Ladera Heights.
The meeting was coordinated by acting chair Fred Scott.
There is constant practice and preparation for fires and major emergencies of all types, Hargraves told the audience.
In any large-scale emergency, coordination of all law enforcement in the county would be under the sheriff’s control, and that would include the 25,000 police officers, 8,000 California Highway Patrol (CHP) and available National Guard members, according to Hargraves.
The Emergency Operations Bureau reacts to federal information to mitigate problems, including early warnings regarding terrorism and acts of terrorism.
In cases where police officials need assistance in containing a situation and do not have the personnel or the specialized equipment to do so, mobile Incident Management Teams are sent out by the Emergency Management Bureau.
Hargraves related an incident where San Diego police officials needed such assistance to contain a large group participating in civil disobedience.
The first priority in emergencies is saving lives, followed by protecting property and restoration of a functioning authority, Hargraves said.
A variety of plans both long- and short-term are components of managing emergency preparedness, including the county emergency plan, station plans for at-risk populations, a business continuity plan and anti-terrorism plans — and these plans include cooperation between various entities such as police, fire departments and the FBI to work together and communicate.
The use of technology, computer systems, communications and redundant systems, as well as “the 800 ham operators out there who give us great assistance in times of emergency,” are all relevant pieces in the planning procedure, said Hargraves.
“This position is somewhat like herding cats, and the Emergency Operations Bureau is there to ‘get our arms around a situation’ and ensure that everyone works together to their best capability,” Hargraves concluded.
In other Sheriff’s Advisory Committee meeting business, Marina Sheriff’s Station Captain Mary Campbell, Lt. Greg Nelson and Sergeant Ron Thrash attended the meeting to give reports on crime statistics and get feedback, both negative and positive about the performance of the Marina Sheriff’s Department, as well as to answer questions about problems in the community.
The advisory committees for communities are “highly looked upon by Sheriff Baca, and are mandated for every station,” said Thrash.
“The advisory committee underestimates its own power, because they are the ones who interviewed and hired Captain Campbell, not Sheriff Baca or other officers,” Thrash said.
MARINA SHERIFF’S STATION —Campbell told the advisory committee that the power of their voices and the voices of the community and its outlook is crucial to the sheriff’s department doing its job.
Capt. Campbell encouraged meeting attendance by community members and more individuals joining the advisory committee to empower their neighborhoods.
The first “Citizen’s Academy” to train citizens in understanding what goes on in the sheriff’s department will begin Saturday, February 24th, and the second training day will be Saturday, March 3rd, said Campbell.
There are four days of training, and the subsequent Saturdays following the February and March training days will include tours of the custody facilities and a ride-along with officers of the sheriff’s department.
Anyone interested in signing up can contact the Marina Sheriff’s Station, said Campbell.
DEPUTY EXPLORERS — Campbell also encouraged youths age 14 to 21 to join the Deputy Explorers, a volunteer training program that provides extensive training and participation in non-hazardous law enforcement activities.
Four Explorers had just graduated, and “to have that number in this small a station is outstanding for this wonderful mentoring program for young people,” Campbell said.
Deputy Keith Harrison is in charge of the Deputy Explorer program and parents may contact him or go online for more information, www.lasdreserve.org/explorer
YOUTH ACTIVITIES LEAGUE — Harrison is also forming a grant-funded Youth Activities League for kids from nearby schools to participate in summer programs such as basketball, tennis and other sports.
At the end of the league’s season, a ceremony will be held to recognize participants.
Campbell said this is an excellent program for youths, as it gives them self-confidence and perhaps provides an opportunity to kids who are not participating in a school program for some reason.
CRIME STATISTICS REPORT — Campbell discussed crime statistics for the Marina area and the other unincorporated areas covered by the local sheriff’s station.
She spoke about more parking violation controls and towing of vehicles that are in violation.
Members of the advisory committee also participate in an “e-mail tree,” communicating with one another in real time regarding potential and occurring crimes in their neighborhoods, a sort of “cyber Neighborhood Watch” by e-mail.
She said this approach has been very effective and encouraged residents of the Marina and elsewhere to establish a similar system.
Thrash said the department is always open to information from residents about criminal activity of any sort, and that even though the activity may be over before deputies arrive, the information is still valuable because it can show developing or existing trends in areas.
“I’m not saying we will be there immediately each time something happens, and unfortunately we can’t stop all crime today, but we will be responsive,” said Thrash.
If, for example, cars are speeding through a particular area daily and residents make us aware of that, we can respond with officers in the future and hopefully eliminate the potential tragedy of a fatal accident, Thrash said.
Residents in the Marina and other unincorporated areas covered by the Marina Sheriff’s Department are asked to e-mail Thrash with any questions they may have at RBThrash@lasd.org
Thrash cautions that the e-mail should only be used for questions —in emergencies 911 should be called.
The Marina Sheriff’s Station is at 13851 Fiji Way, Marina del Rey.
Information, (310) 823-7762.