Santa Rosa PD Gets Pay Raise of 9.5% Over 3 Years

The Santa Rosa City Council signed off on new three-year contracts with its 165 police officers and public safety managers Tuesday following a vigorous debate about whether the city could afford to pay raises totaling 9.5 percent.

The majority of the council felt the increases were justified given the higher pension costs the officers and managers had agreed to shoulder and seemed sustainable given the city’s improving economy.

“Our police force is the envy of everybody in the North Bay,” Mayor Scott Bartley said. “It comes at a cost, and I think it’s a reasonable cost.”

But council members Gary Wysocky and Julie Combs, as they have for similar contracts, argued forcefully that the council was recklessly inking multi-year deals with raises that the city’s financial projections show it cannot afford.

After briefly enjoying a surplus, the city will likely be pushed back into deficits next year because of the cost of new labor contracts, Wysocky said.

“That to me is a huge alarm bell, and it should be for anyone thinking about the sustainability of the organization,” he said.

Bartley, Jake Ours, Robin Swinth and Erin Carlstrom voted in favor of the contract, Wysocky voted against it, and Combs abstained.

In exchange for the raises, the new contracts call for the city’s 135 police officers and 30 police managers to pay 4 percent more toward their pension costs over the term of the contract. That will result in net raises of 5.5 percent, or 1.8 percent per year.

The new contracts also increase uniform allowances by $300 per year and vest allowances by $50 per year, combine the vision and dental plans, align the city’s domestic partner benefits with those of the state and increase slightly the rate at which vacation time is accrued.

The total cost of the new contracts is estimated at $754,000 for the remainder of this year, and $4.9 million over the three-year life of the contracts.

The contracts continue a pattern in recent years of granting raises to workers while requiring them to pay a higher percentage of their pension costs. By the end of the three-year contract, officers and managers will be paying 13 percent of salary toward pensions, more than is required under state law.

Shifting those costs onto workers is projected to help stabilize the ever-increasing annual contribution to the California Public Employee Retirement System. Instead of paying 36 percent of salary to CalPERS, the city will only be paying 32 percent by the third year, Human Resources Director Fran Elm said.

Tim Hughes, president of the Police Officers Association, thanked the council and assured them the contract would help the city attract “exceptional police officer candidates” while retaining the existing force.

Several medical leaves and unfilled positions mean officers often work overtime, Acting Chief Hank Schreeder said. Recruiting new police candidates is challenging right now because lots of departments are hiring “after a lull,” he said. The department will also need to staff up to begin policing the Roseland neighborhood once the annexation of that area is complete, he said.

Wysocky suggested that the 9.5 percent increase over three years might embolden other employee groups to demand more from the city, but Employee Relations Manager Paul Carroll disagreed.

“This specific contract doesn’t really push any boundaries in term of other raises that other units have received,” he said.

But Combs questioned the long-term implications of giving raises to cover employees’ pension costs, noting that future retirement payments will be based on those higher salaries. She, too, said she was worried about the city’s financial “sustainability.”

“These actions, along with other contracts that we’ve agreed to and our total budget, tie the hands of the next council while moving it into debt,” she said.

But Ours expressed confidence in the city’s financial future, suggesting that some of the studies upon which Wysocky was relying were “not thought-out.”

“We’ve looked at what the future is going to hold, and I have no doubt that we’re going to be able to pay our obligations,” Ours said.

Carlstrom, an attorney in private practice, said she felt the debate reflected a “pitting of the working class against itself.” Recalling her own father’s resentments over the generous compensation for public employees, Carlstrom suggested the opposition of some council members was rooted in pension envy.

“I’m not going to pit myself against somebody who has elected to come work for the city because you get a pension and I don’t,” she said.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @srcitybeat.

Source: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/home/2739879-181/santa-rosa-oks-raises-for#page=0

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DA says Gelhaus “was lawfully acting in defense of himself or others”

The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday that it will not file criminal charges against a sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed 13-year-old Andy Lopez.

District Attorney Jill Ravitch said in a statement that investigators concluded Deputy Erick Gelhaus “fired his weapon in response to what he honestly and reasonably believed was an imminent threat of death to himself or others.

“As such, he was lawfully acting in defense of himself or others, and no basis for seeking criminal charges exists,” Ravitch said in the statement.

The finding was revealed in an email announcing a 2 p.m. press conference at which Ravitch intended to explain her findings. Moments after the email was sent, staff with the District Attorney’s Office sent another email recalling the prior announcement, indicating they had not intended to report the result of the investigation until the press conference.

For five months, District Attorney investigators have been looking into whether Gelhaus broke the law when he shot Lopez seven times during an Oct. 22 encounter in southwest Santa Rosa.

Source: http://pressdemocrat.com/article/20140707/articles/140709728

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29 drivers were cited for being unlicensed or having a suspended license, 4 DUI suspects apprehended

Santa Rosa DUI checkpoint nets four arrests
By RANDI ROSSMANN THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Mon, Jun 2, 2014
Four people suspected of driving drunk were caught this weekend at a DUI checkpoint in Santa Rosa, police said.

The four were among 816 drivers screened by officers at two checkpoints Saturday night, one on College Avenue near Morgan Street and later on Steele Lane near Cleveland Avenue.

Sgt. Mike Numainville said in a press release that no drivers stopped appeared to be under the influence of drugs.

But 29 drivers were cited for being unlicensed or having a suspended license.

One driver was found to be wanted on a warrant and was taken into custody.

The suspected drunken drivers ranged from 25 years to 61. Three were from Santa Rosa and one was a San Diego resident.

Officers worked the checkpoints from 9 p.m. Saturday to 3 a.m. Sunday.

Grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety helped fund the effort.

Source: Press Democrat

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Remembering Richard DeSantis

Statement by Adrianne DeSantis for October 30, 2013 Santa Rosa Rally

Last weekend, I huddled on the couch with my granddaughter, thinking of the Lopez family and the unbearable depths of their anguish.  That anguish is where I reside, and there truly are no words that can take away the painEvery time a loved one is lost to this type of violence, we are re-traumatized.

One of the law enforcement policies that must change, is that we must no longer allow officers to shoot to kill, when there are other options.  Police must be trained to accurately discern that they have options short of death, that will work, and they must use them.  Officers who believe that other people’s lives are expendable, or who use lethal force out of wrong intent, do not belong patrolling our neighborhoods.

The time to ask questions is before pulling the trigger, not after a life has been taken.  It is shocking how rapidly lethal force is used, time after time.  Police seem oblivious to the fact that more often than they realize, they have the ability and the duty to slow down the progression of events.  Circumstances evolve based on the approach chosen by law enforcement.

Police have families and friends like the rest of us, who do not want harm to come to them, either.  But remember that when they chose their occupation, they did so knowing the risksTo mitigate risks by seeing deadly force as the only viable option is not what we want in our communities.

What we do want is for people to be viewed as human beings.  When the mentality is that everyone who comes to the attention of police is a “suspect,” the de-humanization process beginsAll too often, the end of the process is that someone’s son or father or brother is having his lifeless wrists handcuffed, as the final assault on human dignity.

I am thankful for all the support shown to the Lopez family, as it was shown to me and my family, to the families of Jeremiah Chass, Jessie Hamilton, Heather Billings, and many others.  This community is fantastic for its heart, its organizing, its solidarity, and for coming together to talk, even when there are differing views.

We actually all want the same thingTo enjoy being alive, to keep our loved ones safe, and to help one another.  This is something purposeful to work on, out of love for our people who have passed on, and for those still beside us.

Editor’s Note: Richard DeSantis was shot and killed by Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Richard Celli on April 9, 2007.

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Miguel Angel Garcia, 32, apparently killed himself – not shot by SWAT Team

A Napa man fatally shot in a 19-hour standoff with law enforcement in Kenwood last week died from a single gunshot wound to the chest that authorities say appears to have been self-inflicted.

The preliminary finding came in an autopsy performed Monday on Miguel Angel Garcia, 32, Petaluma police reported.

Garcia had no other gunshot injuries except the close-contact wound to his chest, despite some gunfire exchanged with sheriff’s deputies during the prolonged wait for his surrender, police said.

He had threatened to take his life during the standoff, or force authorities to take his life for him — an act known as “suicide by cop,” the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said.

Monday marked the first time a law enforcement agency has confirmed Garcia’s identity. He had previously been identified by a resident and an owner of the Hoff Road property where Garcia barricaded himself inside a trailer late on the night of April 1.

During periodic negotiations preceding his death, Garcia confessed to a number of violent crimes, including murder, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said.

Garcia reportedly told law enforcement officials where to find a slaying victim, leading authorities Thursday to find a man’s remains near Lake Hennessey in east Napa County.

An autopsy was conducted Monday on the slain man, but no results were being released, Napa County Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Blower said.

Blower also said the victim’s name was not available for publication.

Garcia was wanted on criminal charges out of Napa County when authorities surrounded the trailer off Hoff Road last Tuesday.

The occupant of the trailer escaped in the early minutes, but Garcia apparently held his girlfriend as a hostage until her release was negotiated the next morning, April 2.

Garcia refused to surrender, however, and at one point, after tear gas was deployed, sprayed gunfire indiscriminately from the trailer, hitting several patrol cars and a neighbor’s house and prompting at least one deputy to fire back, according to law enforcement reports.

After more tear gas was deployed, Garcia came outside, collapsed and died, Petaluma police said.

Police said an assault rifle was found inside the trailer where Garcia had encamped.

Petaluma police said the crime scene in Kenwood was still being processed and that Santa Rosa police experts were still analyzing physical evidence, as well.

Lt. Matt Stapleton said there was no word yet on evidence directly linking Garcia’s firearm to his chest wound, though that type of analysis usually takes some time, Lt. Tim Lyons said.

Garcia, who has a criminal history in Mendocino County, was wanted in Napa County for felony failure to appear in court on a child endangerment charge, unlawful firearm and ammunition possession, receipt of stolen property and possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia when he turned up in the Sonoma Valley last week, law enforcement said.

At the request of the Napa County Major Crimes Task Force, a Sonoma County sheriff’s special operations unit, and later Santa Rosa police, surrounded the trailer shortly before midnight Tuesday to try to serve an arrest warrant, prompting the standoff.

Petaluma police are asking that anyone with information about the case to contact police Detective Tami Shoemaker, at (707) 778-4444, or Detective Joel Stemmer, at (707) 778-4532.

(You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 521-5249 or mary.callahan@pressdemocrat.com.)

Source: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20140407/articles/140409619#page=0

A man who died following a lengthy standoff at a Kenwood trailer with law enforcement has been identified as one of Napa County’s most wanted criminal suspects.

The Napa Valley Crimestoppers website identifies Miguel Angel Garcia, 32, as being wanted on several felony charges including child endangerment, possessing an illegal gun, drugs and receiving stolen property.

On Thursday, the owner of the Hoff Road property where the standoff occurred and the man who’d briefly been in the trailer with the armed man said the photo of Garcia from the website is that of the man who died after being fired upon by SWAT team members.

“That’s the bad guy,” said the property owner, looking at the photo. He said he was shown the same photo by law enforcement officers during the standoff.

The man in the trailer, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Victor, also said the photo was the man he knew only as “Miguel.”

Law enforcement officials haven’t identified the dead man. They’ve said he was wanted in Napa County on felony charges including drugs, weapons and child endangerment.

According to news reports last week, Garcia was due in court in Napa County and when he didn’t appear, a warrant was issued for his arrest. A $1,000 reward was promised for information leading to his arrest.

8:27 a.m.:

Petaluma and Santa Rosa police officers Thursday morning began collecting evidence at a Kenwood property where a wanted man died after a lengthy standoff with a SWAT team whose members deployed tear gas and shot at him.

Thursday morning, the body of the suspect remained, covered up and outside the Hoff Road trailer where he’d been holed up for about 19 hours Tuesday into Wednesday.

Sheriff’s officials say it isn’t clear whether the man died after shooting himself or whether shots fired by the SWAT team killed him.

Law enforcement officials said detectives Thursday also were interviewing officers and SWAT team members who were at the property during the night when the man died.

The man, who officials haven’t identified, was being sought by Napa County law enforcement on several felony charges including weapons, narcotics and child endangerment.

Also under investigation Thursday were comments the man made during talks with law enforcement negotiators, who were trying to get him to give up peacefully.

The man admitted to a murder as well as several other crimes, said sheriff’s Lt. Brett Sackett.

Further details of those alleged crimes weren’t released.

In a press release issued early Thursday, sheriff’s officials outlined further details about the standoff on Hoff Road.

Sackett said the man had become less communicative during the afternoon after he admitted to other crimes and then had talked of suicide or getting police to shoot him.

“The suspect threatened to kill himself on numerous occasions or create a situation where he would force law enforcement to kill him, in what is known as “suicide by cop,” according to Sackett.

In an attempt to engage him, multiple rounds of a chemical agent were sent into the trailer, Sackett said.

After the first rounds of tear gas went in, the man fired shots out the trailer, hitting a nearby home, Sackett said.

Further rounds of tear gas then were shot into the trailer and the door opened and the man appeared. SWAT team members began firing.

Sackett Wednesday night said the man was believed to have been holding an assault rifle in his hand as he stood at the door. Thursday’s press release did not include whether the man was armed as he stood at the door.

“Perceiving a threat and and fearing for their safety, SWAT team members engaged the suspect with their weapons. The suspect fell to the ground and after numerous attempts to communicate” the prone man was approached by SWAT team members and a medic, who determined he was dead, Sackett said.

Napa officers had tracked him to the trailer Tuesday, where he was with a woman, described as his girlfriend.

The couple had gone to the trailer on the rural lane off of Highway 12 Tuesday afternoon, after a friend apparently had arranged for them to stay with another man at the trailer.

That man escaped after officers arrived. He then told officers the man inside had a rifle, a handgun and body armor, Sackett said.

The couple were barricaded inside the trailer through the night. At about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday the man allowed the woman to leave.

She also hasn’t been identified.

Following a Sonoma County protocol by law enforcement agencies, deaths of suspects during a law enforcement event are investigated by other agencies.

Petaluma detectives are the lead investigators in the this case, aided by Santa Rosa and Sonoma County District Attorney’s investigators.

Source: http://pressdemocrat.com/article/20140403/articles/140409883#page=0

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Top CHP officer in Sonoma County, Capt. Greg Tracey, relieved of his duties

The top CHP officer in Sonoma County, Capt. Greg Tracey, has been relieved of his duties while the agency conducts an investigation into issues that include his management practices, say several law enforcement sources. Tracey, 54, was placed on administrative leave March 8.

Complaints have included allegations of favoritism, threatening and retaliatory behavior. As head of the California Highway Patrol’s Sonoma County office, Tracey is akin to a police chief and oversees the third-largest law enforcement agency in Sonoma County. Napa CHP Capt. Chris Childs currently is filling Tracey’s position as commander of the office in Rohnert Park, CHP spokeswoman Diana McDermott said. CHP officials Tuesday said Tracey remains a state employee but would not confirm whether he is on leave or the subject of an investigation, citing state personnel regulations.

Calls to the Rohnert Park office regarding the new management were directed to CHP officials at the Golden Gate Division office in Vallejo, which oversees the Sonoma County office. “At this time specifically, Capt. Tracey is not the subject of a criminal investigation,” said McDermott, public information officer for the Golden Gate Division. “And we are restricted by state law on commenting on whether any employee is the subject of an internal investigation.”

McDermott also would not say why Tracey was not working at the Rohnert Park office, where he had been commander since December 2010. “He’s been given direction by his superiors and what this specifically is, I don’t have that available,” McDermott said. Messages left over four days at Tracey’s Petaluma home and on his cellphone weren’t returned. Emails sent to his CHP address bounce back with a statement that he’s not available and a referral to Childs. Word of Tracey’s exit quickly spread throughout Sonoma County law enforcement circles, where he has been well-known for years. “His picture is off the picture board. They’ve changed the locks; another captain is packing up his office,” said one CHP source. “They told us . . . he’s not coming back to this office.”

The Rohnert Park office covers highways and all unincorporated roads in Sonoma County except for a part of southeastern Sonoma Valley, which is in the Napa jurisdiction. With 77 officers, eight sergeants and two lieutenants, it is the fifth-largest of the 12 CHP offices in the Bay Area. The investigation stemmed from complaints about Tracey’s ability to lead the office, according to several current and former CHP personnel sources who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter. Sources said an anonymous letter detailing concerns was sent to the agency’s Sacramento headquarters. The letter and other complaints include allegations that Tracey inappropriately removed employees from special assignments as retaliation, participated in threatening behavior and imposed disciplinary action exceeding the level of the infraction.

An investigation was launched at the request of Sacramento CHP officials. It has prompted perhaps two dozen interviews of employees from all shifts and assignments throughout the office, including officers and sergeants. Sources said during Tracey’s tenure as lieutenant and captain at the Rohnert Park office, several veteran officers and sergeants transferred out, preferring to commute to other CHP jobs, citing stress from a caustic workplace under Tracey’s management.

Sources said this is the second time Tracey’s management has been investigated by CHP officials. An investigation led to minor disciplinary action while he was a lieutenant, they said. Tracey later was promoted to captain and assigned to the same office. The timing of Tracey’s departure from the office took many by surprise, sources said. The day before, Tracey was in uniform and attended the monthly meeting of the Sonoma County Law Enforcement Chiefs Association. He also was slated to be the keynote speaker at the annual Sonoma County Law Enforcement Officer of the Year March 12. Banquet organizers said they were alerted at the last minute that he wasn’t available.

Prior to his promotion to captain of the Rohnert Park office, Tracey served there as lieutenant for five years. Tracey started his law enforcement career at a California State Police officer in July 1983. When the agency, which primarily protected state property, was absorbed by the CHP in 1995, Tracey soon became a CHP sergeant, according to his employment records, McDermott said. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2001 and then to captain in 2009. Tracey served as lieutenant in the Sonoma County office from 2004 to 2009 and transferred to the communication center in Vallejo. He returned to the Rohnert Park office as commander in December 2010. His annual salary as captain is about $168,000.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or randi.rossmann@ pressdemocrat.com

Source:
http://pressdemocrat.com/article/20140318/articles/140319502#page=0

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Woman reports being surrounded by SRPD officers handcuffed, insulted and threatened

Leticia Velasquez reported to PACH that she was driving back from Rohnert Park to her home in Santa Rosa on Sunday, February 9, 2014, around 6:30 p.m. with her 13-year-old son who had been playing laser games. He took out his laser gun in the car and showed it to her. Someone in another car saw them and followed them for quite a while. When they got home, to the corner of Bellevue Avenue and Moorland, they were surrounded by police cars. She said about 20 cops with pistols drawn.

She said the cops made her get out of her car, handcuffed her, called her “Fucking stupid,” and put her in a patrol car. They then got her son out of the car, threatened to put a bullet in his head, handcuffed him and put him in a patrol car. She said she showed them the laser gun, which had been put away in a bag like a backpack and told them it was harmless. After checking things out, she said the “commander” told her “I’m sorry but this is the way we have to do things,” released them and left. They were not arrested or booked and don’t face any charges.

Report No. 20140214MM

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Black History Month Film Festival

This February, to celebrate Black History Month, and as a fundraising benefit for the Police Accountability Clinic and Helpline (PACH), there will be a Black History Month Film Festival held at the Arlene Francis Center, 99 Sixth St, Santa Rosa, CA.

The following films will be presented on three successive Thursday evenings:

Feb 6th  7pm  – “At the River I Stand” – the complete story of the Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike which led to the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (56 min)

“Liberators” – the story of American GIs, their struggle to free victims of Nazism in WWII and their struggle for freedom at home. (90″)

Feb 13th  7pm  –  “Freedom Riders” – the story of an integrated group of young people who boarded buses and traveled to the Deep South to help in the struggle for Civil Rights (117″)

Feb 20th  7pm  –  “Let It Burn” - Robert Williams in Tanzania in the 1970’s (59″)

&  ” The People’s Advocate – The Life and times of Charles Garry” (58″)

In addition to the films, there will be a brief discussion on PACH

 

ADMISSION: $5.00 DONATION

food and beverages for sale by the AFC

The Police Accountability Clinic and Helpline (PACH) is an all-volunteer organization which documents and tracks reports from community members of alleged abuses by law enforcement agencies in Sonoma County. PACH also participates in community-based outreach such as Know Your Rights trainings.

 

For more information, contact:

Arlene Francis Center (707) 528-3009

PACH   email: info@pachline.org           (707) 542 – 7224        website: www.pachline.org                  

Elbert “Big Man” Howard          email:  bigman0138@aol.com                  (901)-921-0493    

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Video shows young Andy Lopez organizers handcuffed by Santa Rosa Police

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Activists involved in Lopez protests claim they’re intimidated, harassed

Activists involved in ongoing protests over last year’s shooting death of 13-year-old Andy Lopez say they’ve become the targets of police intimidation and harassment.

Two of the activists, 15-year-old and 13-year-old girls, aired their complaints Monday evening during the first meeting of a community task force aimed at recommending changes to law enforcement oversight, including the establishment of a civilian review board for officer-involved shootings.

Lisbet Mendoza, 15, related a story that other activists circulated in printed format to participants at the meeting: That dozens of units from the Sheriff’s Office and Santa Rosa Police Department went into the Moorland Avenue neighborhood where she lived last Thursday and, at gunpoint, detained her and several teenage activists and arrested youth leader Jose Godoy.

Police said Monday they were investigating a report that Godoy had brandished a firearm to the driver of another vehicle while the two vehicles were stopped in traffic.

But Mendoza, who said she was with Godoy in the car, said there was no gun, only a stapler, and that Godoy never pointed it at anyone. She added that she and the other youths were simply walking from one of the girls’ homes to the other, on their way to make posters, when officials detained them.

“We just want you guys to look into this more thoroughly,” said Nicole Guerra, another young woman who stood with the girls as they spoke. “They are harassing Andy’s Youth.”

The task force listened attentively but did not discuss the matter in depth at the advice of a county attorney that the matter should be saved for another meeting, when it can be placed on the agenda.

Sheriff Steve Freitas did not attend the meeting and County Board of Supervisors Chairman David Rabbitt left after giving opening remarks where he thanked the task force and charged the it with creating “good policy based on data and facts. What can we do better and how?”

Sheriff’s Lt. Mark Essick, a task force member who spent several years working in the Roseland area where Andy Lopez was killed, said later, “I felt my role tonight was just to listen, keep an open mind and carry the message back to the command staff.”

But one task force member, Caroline Bañuelos, said after the girls spoke that the matter concerned her, as she was there with the goal of addressing the interaction between law enforcement and “communities of color.”

And the girls’ comments drew support from many of those present in the audience. During a heated public comment period, one Santa Rosa resident, Elaine Holtz, said, “I cried when those kids talked,” adding that the police and sheriff’s departments needed to “back off a bit.”

Such concerns represented just one of the matters that the 21-member task force, created by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, discussed at its first meeting Monday night, which drew a crowd of about 50 people.

In a session that spanned more than four hours, the members struggled to create a plan for the next year, in which they’re tasked with making several specific recommendations to the County Board of Supervisors about the establishment of an independent board that would review officer-involved shootings; community policing; the possible separation of the coroner’s office from the sheriff’s office; and other feedback gathered from the community.

Many members of the task force, as well as the public, spoke of wanting to restore confidence in law enforcement; others of creating a better understanding between Latino and other communities.

“We’ve heard a lot about wanting to create accountability in a police-related incident; that’s the main thing community wants,” said task force member Judy Rice, who also chairs the county Commission on Human Rights. “But that may not be the main task we have before us. (The need for that) occurs when there’s an officer-involved shooting, and we’re hoping that through some of the work of this task force that that won’t happen, hopefully ever.”

“The issue,” she added, is “how do we establish trust between law enforcement and citizens of the community?”

The conflict activists described at Monday’s meeting is an example of growing tensions between Lopez activists on the one hand and law enforcement officials and local city and county officials on the other.

Prior to Monday’s meeting, activists said they felt they were being targeted by law enforcement for their aggressive criticism and protests spurred by the Oct. 22 shooting of Lopez.

“Last week, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department launched a war of intimidation on the Latino community and activists in the Justice for Andy Lopez movement,” said Jonathan Melrod, a Sebastopol resident and organizer with the Justice Coalition for Andy Lopez.

Melrod echoed Mendoza’s contention that the weapon that Godoy was accused of brandishing was actually a staple gun that he and other youth activists were using to make posters and signs for a fundraiser rummage sale that was held Sunday.

Melrod said that on the following day, Friday, sheriff’s detectives went to both Godoy and Cairo’s homes to talk to them about “alleged death threats” that were made against Supervisor David Rabbitt during last week’s supervisors meeting.

“It was statement made at a public forum,” Melrod said. “He said (to Rabbitt) how would you feel if it was your child. It’s a sad day in America when a speaker at a public forum, such as a Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meeting, is intimidated and harassed for exercising his First Amendment rights to redress police wrongs at a governmental meeting.”

Assistant Sheriff Lorenzo Dueñas confirmed that the Sheriff’s Office was investigating an allegation of death threats in violation of California Penal Code 422. But Dueñas would not identify the nature of the threats, the suspects or the the supervisor who was threatened because it is an “ongoing investigation.”

The police response to Godoy allegedly brandishing a weapon happened on Robin Way, between Eddy and Barbara drives, off Moorland.

Some residents of the Moorland Avenue neighborhood where Godoy was arrested Thursday described a massive show of police force aimed at young people who were simply walking down the street.

Kathy Estebanez, who lives on Eddy Drive, said Monday that she was crossing the street to a friend’s house when the police action took place.

“There were seven or eight patrol cars within the first minute and a half and they just kept coming,” Estebanez said. “There were kids out there playing and they didn’t care, they just flew, one right after another. It was crazy, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Another resident who lives on Barbara, who asked that her name not be used because she said she feared law enforcement reprisals, said she saw numerous law enforcement units respond, including sheriff’s deputies, police officers and CHP officers.

“Their guns were drawn and they were screaming and yelling, I mean screaming,” the resident said.

She said one of the youths was carrying what looked like a large poster board. Neighbors said a sheriff’s helicopter also quickly arrived at the scene.

Santa Rosa Police Lt. Clay Van Artsdalen said police first received a call from a woman who reported seeing someone later identified as Godoy pointing a firearm at her while she was stopped in traffic next to Godoy.

The woman got part of Godoy’s license plate, and left the scene. Van Artsdalen said she went to a safe location and called the police, who put out a description of the vehicle and partial license plate.

While police were doing their investigation, a sheriff’s deputy located Godoy’s vehicle in the area of Barbara Drive. Van Artsdalen said that at around the same time, police were investigating a robber in the area of Bellevue and Dutton avenue, which is not far from the Moorland neighborhood.

Van Artsdalen said he didn’t know how many police units responded to the scene.

“I’m not sure how many of our officers responded,” he said. “We had two things going on at the same time. We had that robbery.”

Van Artsdalen said Godoy was arrested but no gun was found. He said there was a period of about an hour and a half between the time the woman reported Godoy brandishing a firearm and when he was stopped.

The next meeting of the task force is on Jan. 27.

Source: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20140113/articles/140119843#page=0

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