Public Safety

Deputy Honored For Bravery During Hawaiian Gardens Rampage

Supervisor Don Knabe and members of the Hawaiian Gardens City Council honored Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Freddy Brown for his heroic actions last week in the City of Hawaiian Gardens.

Deputy Freddy Brown was credited with saving six lives by shooting 26-year-old Joseph Mercado, who is suspected of using an AK-47 to kill his former girlfriend, her brother and her father at their Hawaiian Gardens home on May 6.

Deputy Brown was honored for subduing the gunman who was allegedly killing his former girlfriend, her brother and her father and critically wounded their mother before being shot by Deputy Brown. Six other family members, including an infant escaped due to the actions of Deputy Brown.

We want to thank and commend Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Freddy Brown for his incredible display of courage, in the face of life-threatening peril to himself, and protecting the residents of Los Angeles County without hesitation, said Supervisor Knabe. Freddie, congratulations on a job well done. You are a hero.

Knabe To Dedicate Avalon’s New Lifeguard And Paramedic Station

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe will join City of Avalon and Los Angeles County Fire and Lifeguard officials at the ribbon-cutting dedication of Avalon’s new state-of-the-art lifeguard and paramedic headquarters building. The ceremony will take place on Friday, April 30, 2010 at 12:30 p.m.

The $5.423 million project was constructed on a parcel of land adjacent to City Hall that was donated to the County by the City of Avalon. The building is a two-story, 7,005 square foot lifeguard/paramedic station, which consists of a two-bay apparatus area for housing a paramedic truck, a utility vehicle and watercraft trailers; an office with storage rooms; and a reception area with a public restroom. Additionally, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission through its Civic Art Program commissioned artists Sandow Birk and Elyse Pignolet to create a ceramic tile mural for the fa cade of the new Avalon Lifeguard Paramedic Headquarters.

Los Angeles County lifeguards have faithfully and effectively served Catalina Island for 40 years, said Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman. With the completion of this state-of-the-art facility, their base of operation and commitment to the Avalon community is solidified. We are very appreciative of the collaboration with the City of Avalon and Supervisor Don Knabe to accomplish this important project.

The Avalon Lifeguard facility will also have one unique feature among all of the County’s similar buildings. This will be the first to include dormitory space for workers, which will consist of a living room, kitchen, dining room and bedroom space for up to eight personnel. County lifeguards on Catalina Island are on-call for 24-hour periods, meaning that anyone stationed in Avalon must secure housing in the City’s limited and expensive housing market. With the new building, lifeguards will be able to complete their shifts without having to acquire housing off-site.

I am very excited about this new station, which was a truly collaborative effort between the City and County, said Supervisor Knabe. I know that the lifeguard station will enhance current operations here in Avalon. Currently, the housing we do have for our lifeguards is in short supply so this new station will allow our lifeguards to have the housing that they need to provide critical services to the both the residents and visitors of Avalon.

Child Support Services Outreach Event

Parents who owe past due child support are invited to a special community outreach event on Saturday, April 3. Parents will be able to make payment arrangements, have a suspended license released and receive information about services offered by Los Angeles County departments.

The Los Angeles County Child Support Services Department (CSSD) is holding Let’s Seal a Deal on Your Past Due Child Support, at the South Coast Botanic Gardens from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Staff from CSSD will be present to talk to parents about their child support cases and negotiate arrangements for past due payments. Payments can be made by cash, check or credit card.

Parents also will be able to get job and free service information offered by other County Departments including: Public Social Services, Military and Veterans Affairs, Community and Senior Services, and Children and Family Services.

The Department of Child Support Services wants to help parents act responsibly in eliminating past due child support which is important for their families, said CSSD Deputy Director Lori Cruz, who will be present at the outreach. This is a special opportunity for parents to come in and talk to us and work out some arrangements.

CSSD assists families and children in Los Angeles County with free child support services. CSSD basic services include establishing, modifying and enforcing child support obligations including medical support. Other services include free paternity testing, collecting child support and locating parents.

The South Coast Botanic Gardens is located at 26300 Crenshaw Boulevard in Palos Verdes Estates. For more information visit or call (866) 901-3212.

County Hosting Census Assistance Centers

The County of Los Angeles will host centers within a number of its facilities to assist residents who have questions about the Census, need help in filling out their Census forms, or need a Census form.

Questionnaire assistance centers will be staffed by Census representatives to answer questions regarding the Census form. Be Counted Sites will provide residents with a new Census form if they have lost their form or never received one. Hours vary by location, and some sites will serve only as a questionnaire assistance center or a Be Counted Site, so residents should call before visiting.

There are 67 centers located at County libraries, parks, health centers, senior centers and fire stations open to assist the public. In addition, the County Public Social

Services Department will provide assistance at 21 of its offices to clients already visiting those facilities.

Fourth District Census Assistance Centers

Deane Dana Friendship Park: 1805 W. 9th St., San Pedro – (310) 519-6115

Rancho Los Amigos: 7601 E. Imperial Hwy., Room 103, Downey – (213) 974-1148

Los Nietos Senior Center: 11640 E. Slauson Ave., Whittier – (562) 699-9898

Office of Public Safety: 12951 Juniper St., Downey – (213) 974-1148

Registrar Recorder/County Clerk: 12400 Imperial Hwy., Norwalk – (562) 562-2704

San Pedro Service Center: 769 W. Third St., San Pedro – (310) 519-6091

Schabarum Regional Park: 17250 E. Colima Rd., Rowland Heights – (626) 854-5560

Hermosa Beach Library: 550 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach – (310) 830-0231

Lomita Library: 24200 Narbonne Ave., Lomita – (310) 830-0231

Paramount Library: 16254 Colorado Ave., Paramount – (562) 868-0770

Los Nietos Library: 11644 E. Slauson Ave., Whittier – (323) 722-5621

Hacienda Heights Library: 16010 La Monde St., Hacienda Heights – (626) 960-2861

Rowland Heights Library: 1850 Nogales St., Rowland Heights – (626) 960-2861

Reward Sought After Swastika Carved Into Putting Green At County Golf Course

Supervisor Don Knabe will be introducing a $5,000 reward for information on the vandals responsible for carving a large swastika into a putting green at Lakewood Country Club over the weekend.

Sometime in the early morning hours of Sunday, February 28, vandals broke into the County-owned golf course and carved an approximately eight foot by eight foot swastika into the putting green on Hole #1. Vandals also dug several deep holes into the green near the swastika.

The damage was discovered by an employee at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday morning and reported to the Lakewood Sheriff’s Station. The investigation into the vandalism is ongoing.

Crews have already repaired the damage to the golf course, and the swastika is no longer visible. In response, Supervisor Knabe will be asking his colleagues to approve an urgency motion at tomorrow’s Board of Supervisors meeting to establish a $5,000 reward for information about this vandalism or those responsible.

The physical damage to the golf course may be repaired already, but the lasting damage that crimes like this leave on a community can be far more devastating, said Supervisor Knabe. This vandalism is simple and unacceptable hatred. The residents of Lakewood will not tolerate it, and the County will not tolerate it at our publically-owned golf courses.

Questions or information can be directed to Detective Theo Gekas of the Lakewood Sheriff’s Station at (562) 623-3500. The damage has been repaired, but a photo from when the vandalism was first discovered is attached to this press release.

Over $9 Million Collected From Child Support Evaders

Over $9 million in unpaid child support has been collected in the past two years from Los Angeles County’s worst local child support evaders – a small group of parents who go to great lengths to avoid the law and avoid caring for their children by not paying their child support obligations. In March 2008, Supervisor Don Knabe unveiled a new partnership between the County’s Child Support Services Department (CSSD) and the District Attorney’s Office (DA) to criminally prosecute parents who spend years avoiding child support payments. Next month is also the two year anniversary of the County launching the Most Wanted Delinquent Parents website.

In the short time that has passed since partnership was formed between CSSD and the DA, a total of $9,114,669 in unpaid child support has been collected from the most delinquent parents and fully passed on to children and families. Additionally, the court has imposed jail time on 95 child support evaders. Collectively, the jail sentences imposed on these parents add up to 10,195 days behind bars. In virtually every case, these are parents who were given multiple opportunities to comply with criminal court orders but who repeatedly failed to live up to the terms of probation they accepted after conviction or after entering pleas of no contest.

The County uses a team of law enforcement personnel to pursue arrest warrants issued for parents who have been charged with crimes for failing to support their children. Since the program began, prosecutors have referred 2,680 child support arrest and bench warrants to the investigations team for follow up. Investigators have cleared 1,778 warrants by arresting or citing defendants or convincing them to surrender voluntarily in court to avoid arrest. An additional 188 warrants have been cleared by other law enforcement agencies.

In the two years since the County’s Most Wanted Delinquent Parents
website was launched, 33 men and women have been featured on the Most Wanted website, 15 of these 33 defendants have been arrested, 6 more have surrendered to court, and 12 are currently the subjects of active investigation.

The joint CSSD/DA Child Support Arrest Warrant Project was made possible through funding provided by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, on an initiative of Supervisor Knabe. The County’s investment, matched 2 for 1 with funding from the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, fully underwrites the costs of the law enforcement team.

County Names New Chief Probation Officer

Donald H. Blevins, who has been credited with turning around Alameda County’s Probation Department, will become Los Angeles County’s Chief Probation Officer on April 19. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors this week appointed Blevins to head the department at an annual salary of $227,000. He replaces Robert Taylor, who retired earlier this month.

Cited for his experience, managerial skills and leadership, Blevins has spent his entire 34-year career in the probation field, more than 14 years of which has been in management. Among his accomplishments in Alameda County were the introduction of evidence-based practices to move toward assessment-driven services to clients; collaboration to create a juvenile mental health court; expansion of service to sexually exploited minors; enhanced literacy program for juvenile hall youth; implementation of a kiosk reporting system for adult offenders; institution of cost-effective alternatives to detention, including electronic and GPS monitoring; and enhancement of revenue and fee collection.

Blevins said he would also emphasize evidence-based practices in Los Angeles County, which he described as basing department procedures and practices on what research has proven to be effective. Something might feel good, but does it work? With limited financial resources, the department must work more efficiently, he said.

Noting that the Los Angeles County Probation Department was the largest probation department in the world, Blevins said he considers his new job, an opportunity of a lifetime, and looks forward to helping the department get back on track. I like a challenge, and this is a challenge on a grand scale, he said.

Blevins said his strength is that he knows the probation field inside and out, starting out as a deputy probation officer in San Diego County in 1976 and reaching the position of probation director of the adult field services before going to Alameda County.

He is active in numerous professional organizations, including the National Institute of Corrections, the Chief Probation Officers of California, the California Parole, Probation and Corrections Association, the American Probation and Parole Association, and the National Association of Probation Executives.

He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and sociology from the United States International University/Cal Western Campus-San Diego in 1974 and did graduate work in sociology in 1976 at the San Diego State University.

The Los Angeles County Probation Department, established in 1903, has a $692.8 million budget and 6,136 positions.

Knabe Extends Reward For Information Related To The Murder Of 16-Year Old Long Beach Student

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously extended a $20,000 reward today, at the request of Supervisor Don Knabe, for information related to the shooting death of 16-year old, Wilson High School student, Melody Ross.

On October 30, 2009, at approximately 10:00 p.m. an unidentified shooter fired into a group outside of Wilson High School following the homecoming football game on Friday night. In addition to hitting Melody, two other men, ages 18 and 20, were wounded in the gunfire. Melody was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital, but succumbed to her injuries at 10:30 p.m.

Although arrests have been made, the investigation continues. Long Beach Detectives believe extending the reward in this case may prompt additional witnesses to come forward and provide additional information into this crime.

Anyone having any information related to this accident is asked to contact the Long Beach Police Department’s Homicide Division at (562) 570-7244. The identity of all callers will remain confidential.

Knabe Calls For Reinstating Body Armor Ban

The Los Angles County Board of Supervisors, on a motion by Supervisor Don Knabe, will support the District Attorney’s efforts to seek new legislation to reinstate the ban and use or possession of body armor for violent felons.

On December 17, 2009, the California Court of Appeals overturned a decade-old law banning the possession of body armor by violent felons. The California legislature banned felons from having body armor in 1998 after a nationally televised shootout in North Hollywood between Los Angeles police officers and two heavily armed bank robbers who were equipped with ballistic vests. The confrontation left the robbers dead and ten police officers along with five civilians injured.

This is a common sense public safety issue; violent felons shouldn’t have body armor said Supervisor Knabe. We all remember the terrible tragedy that occurred in our backyard just a decade ago. This Board pledges its full support to not only our District Attorney, but also to the State Attorney General in their efforts regarding this important issue.

Marijuana Dispensary In South Whittier To Close After County Wins Legal Effort

A Medical Marijuana dispensary operating illegally in unincorporated South Whittier will be forced to close immediately after Los Angeles County successfully won a preliminary injunction against the dispensary’s operators.

The Starlight 420 Center had been operating at 15640 Leffingwell Road for more than six months. The County sought to close the dispensary because of multiple code violations, including proximity to children’s play areas. The dispensary opened without obtaining or applying for a legally required business license or a conditional use permit. Additionally, the dispensary was operating 285 feet from a McDonald’s playground and 595 feet from a child care center. The County’s zoning ordinance for marijuana dispensaries was adopted in 2006 and prevents dispensaries from operating within 1000 feet of facilities for children.

The County began legal action against the dispensaries operators after receiving complaints from neighbors in July 2009. Complaints included comments about noxious odors because of poor ventilation and children having to pass by the dispensary in order to reach the playground next-door. Additionally, neighbors said they witnessed adults handing marijuana purchases to children waiting outside the dispensary.

Judge Ralph Dau of the Los Angeles Superior Court granted the County’s request for a preliminary injunction against the dispensaries operators. This injunction prohibits the owners and their employees from operating a marijuana dispensary or possessing, giving away, or selling marijuana at their location on Leffingwell.

Judge Dau also granted an extension on the prohibition in all of the County’s unincorporated areas, meaning the owners of the Starlight Center won’t be able to pick up and move into another unincorporated area without a proper license or permit. This injunction will remain in effect until a trial date. This ruling will shut the facility down once the plaintiffs are officially served.

This is a big victory for the County, said Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe. This ruling is not about whether medical marijuana is right or wrong – the voters have already answered that question. What is most important is ensuring the safety of our children and our communities, and ensuring that properly-permitted dispensaries operate within the law. Closing this dispensary was a high priority and ensures we are keeping our neighborhoods safe.