BY CINDY VON QUEDNOW, KTLA, Published 10:46 AM, January 18, 2019. Updated AT 05:20 PM, JANUARY 18, 2019
Three burglary suspects involved in a high-speed pursuit along the 60 Freeway surrendered after a box truck tore off their car’s door as the chase was coming to an end in South El Monte late Friday morning.
The incident began when deputies learned a burglary was in progress at a home on the 15600 block of Tall Oak Drive in Chino Hills around 10:25 a.m., the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.
The suspects — later identified as Los Angeles residents Cassidy Poston, 21; Oscar Rivas, 20; and 23-year-old Brandon Buchanan — were able to flee the residence before deputies arrived, officials said.
Authorities caught up with the group as they were driving near the intersection of Peyton and Valley Vista drives. Deputies attempted a traffic stop, but the driver did not heed orders and entered the 60 Freeway, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
The driver was weaving through traffic on the westbound 60 shortly before 11 a.m. when he moved to get off the freeway at Peck Road, Sky5 video showed.
He then attempted to maneuver around a box truck by trying to squeeze through the larger vehicle’s right side and the guardrail, according to the footage.
But the vehicle became stuck between the truck and the offramp’s railing, causing a collision that resulted in the car’s driving side door being sheared off.
The driver had to climb out of the vehicle after he stopped on the offramp and San Bernardino Sheriff’s officials took him into custody.
Two passengers also had to climb out of the crushed driver’s side while deputies held their guns out.
All three were taken into custody after the pursuit.
Deputies also recovered property stolen during the burglary, sheriff’s officials said.
Officials are now looking to speak with the occupants of the box truck, who apparently did not stay at the scene following the collision.
Anyone with information can contact investigators at 909-364-2000, or submit a tip anonymously via 800-782-7463.
By JOSH CAIN | email@example.com | Los Angeles Daily News PUBLISHED: January 15, 2019 at 3:28 pm | UPDATED: January 15, 2019 at 3:33 pm
The Los Angeles Police Department used a drone for the first time during a standoff last week between SWAT officers and a robbery suspect in Koreatown.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday the drone was used to give officers a view inside a second-story apartment in the 300 block of Berendo Street, where police believed the suspect was hiding during the Jan. 9 standoff.
The drone allowed SWAT officers to “safely approach the location knowing the suspect was not lying in wait,” said Deputy Chief Horace Frank, who commands the department’s counter-terrorism, bomb squad, and other special units.
The standoff, which unfolded over nine hours in a busy section of Koreatown near 3rd Street and Vermont Avenue, ended after police found the suspect in the apartment building’s attic.
Moore said police approached the residence at around 4:30 a.m. A woman who answered the door closed it behind her and told officers the man they were looking for was not home.
But Moore said officers had reason to believe their suspect was inside.
They attempted to contact the man, but were unsuccessful.
Tear gas was used at some point during the standoff. Still the man refused to come out.
About seven hours into the incident, officers requested the drone. Frank received the call and approved using the device. “It was an easy decision for me to make.”
However, concerns from members of the public about police use of drones — or “small umanned aerial systems,” as law enforcement agencies prefer to call them — made the decision a fraught one for LAPD.
The department has come under criticism from privacy activists wary of giving police more surveillance tools.
At LAPD’s headquarters on Tuesday, police commission President Steve Soboroff said officials wanted to stress that they were moving toward adopting the devices in a deliberate way.
He said that’s why LAPD has taken this long to use one of the department’s three drones for the first time, more than one year after the commission approved their purchase.
The use of the drone on Jan. 9 was part of LAPD’s pilot program to test the devices. Soboroff said the commission will review the incident at the program’s six-month mark.
But he also said Tuesday that the approval of the drone to be used in the standoff “went over the high hurdles” the commission put in place to limit the program to special circumstances.
Frank said the situations LAPD was allowed to use the drone during the pilot program included the inspection of possible explosive devices and certain situations involved armed suspects.
Moore said Tuesday police believe the suspect was responsible for a previous armed robbery. Officials did not identify him. But police did not find a weapon inside the apartment, Frank said.
LAPD published video footage captured by the drone to its Youtube channel on Tuesday.
The video shows police firing a projectile at the second-story window to break it. The drone hovers outside the window, showing the inside of the apartment.
Police were not able to see where the suspect was from the drone’s footage. They eventually discovered he went up into the apartment’s attic area, where Frank said he had access to other units.
Frank said not knowing the location of a possibly armed suspect can be one of the most dangerous situations for police preparing to enter a building.
“That’s one of the most critical times,” he said. “So I had no problem at all making the decision.”
Los Angeles teachers have said they will strike on Monday if a labor deal isn’t reached.
By Eric Leonard – NBC Los Angeles Published Jan 11, 2019 at 5:37 PM | Updated at 8:53 PM PST on Jan 11, 2019
Law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles said Friday preparations had been made for campus safety should LAUSD teachers go on strike next week.
The Los Angeles School Police Department, which is responsible for school security and student safety, said it planned to have an officer stationed at each middle and high school campus.
“I’m very confident that come Monday, that the School Police Department will be able to rise to the challenge of ensuring student safety,” School Police Chief Steven K. Zipperman told NBC4.
He said every available officer would be ready to work in the field, even those who work investigative or administrative assignments. LAPD and LA County Sheriffs units were expected to assist in patrolling the District’s 450 elementary schools.
“They will be providing high visibility presence at elementary schools during student arrivals and dismissals,” Zipperman said.
Hundreds of LAPD detectives and officers who typically work plainclothes assignments have been told to be ready to work in uniform in case they’re needed for crowd control or strike-related duties, members of the Department’s command staff told NBC4.
LAPD captains were told to prepare to work alternating shifts to provide maximum coverage at neighborhood police stations.
The LAPD did not respond to requests for information on strike plans on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.
The LA County Sheriff’s Department said it would assist school police officers where needed, but said most campus issues would be managed by the School Police Department.
“We have asked the patrol chiefs to prepare to have deputies available to monitor the schools in our areas along with LASPD,” the department said this week.
The El Segundo Fire Department will get a lot of new equipment later this year, thanks to Chevron — and the federal government.
A new fire engine, a utility truck, radios and a new set of firefighting gear, among other items, are coming the department’s way, because of a federal settlement over allegations the Chevron Corporation violated the Clean Air Act. The settlement, finalized last year, required Chevron to make a $250,000 contribution to El Segundo, and the company added another $900,000, which the South Bay city accepted in December.
The Manhattan Beach Fire Department has also accepted a utility truck and various other emergency response equipment, including new breathing apparatus, valued at $1.18 million from Chevron.
The settlement also requires the oil company to make safety improvements at all of its domestic refineries.
“This case demonstrates the importance of performing equipment inspections and maintenance in accordance with environmental regulations,” Susan Bodine, the assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said in a statement in October, when the settlement was announced. “Under this settlement Chevron, U.S.A Inc. will improve their safety systems and monitoring equipment, protecting their employees and the surrounding communities.”
An August 2012 fire at Chevron’s refinery in Richmond, California, spurred the EPA’s initial inquiry.
In 2013, there was an explosion at a Chevron refinery in Pascagoula, Mississippi, which led to the death of an employee. That same year, the El Segundo refinery had a rupture that led to a power outage and flaring, and spurred a visit from federal investigators.
In the final settlement — between Chevron, the EPA, the Justice Department and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality — the oil company agreed to spend roughly $150 million to replace vulnerable pipes, upgrade alarms and take various other steps to improve safety at all its domestic refineries. The company also agreed to spend $10 million in communities surrounding refineries in California, Mississippi, Utah and Hawaii, and pay $2.95 million in civil penalties.
The goal of the repairs is to prevent accidental releases of hazardous chemicals.
For El Segundo, the settlement will provide a boost.
“The timing with Chevron’s offer was perfect,” said Fire Chief Chris Donovan, who explained the city was due to start looking for a new fire engine in the coming year. “We are in essence saving funds that would have otherwise come out of the general fund and we’re able to get our goals met sooner.”
The new engine should arrive later this year or the beginning of 2020.
The department will also use the Chevron money to purchase 45 sets of “turn-out gear,” the yellow suits firefighters wear, affording every member with two sets, something Donovan said was already a priority.
Since the 2017 fire, El Segundo has instituted reforms in how it tells the public about emergencies. It now utilizes social media and issues Nixle alerts — a system of emergency text messages — more frequently.
“We feel we have a good working relationship with Chevron,” said City Manager Greg Carpenter. “They work closely with our emergency response teams. We train and practice together. We do our best to be prepared.”
El Segundo has also worked to conform with Assembly Bill 1646, sponsored by South Bay Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, which took effect Jan. 1, and requires a local alert and notification system in coordination with other agencies.
“There is,” Donovan said, “considerable effort underway currently to improve the method and speed at which we communicate with the community.”
When dispatchers radioed St. Charles emergency services to tell them that a man was stranded in the catwalks beneath the Blanchette Bridge that carries Interstate 70 over the Missouri River, scanner hobbyist Shawn Willis heard the radio transmission the moment it crackled across the airwaves. Never mind that he was in the shower. A radio was on his bathroom counter, and he was tuned in, as he usually is several hours every day.
While Willis dried off, dressed and headed to the scene of the Oct. 23 incident, fellow enthusiast Richard Survant continuously posted details to the St. Charles County Scanner Traffic account on Twitter, SCC Scanner Traffic, as he heard them. As firefighters orchestrated a high-angle rescue, Survant and Willis heard the drama unfold in real time and relayed details to their many followers on social media.
“Pattonville Fire 4835 is on the catwalk on the bridge,” SCC Scanner Traffic tweeted. “St. Charles City Fire 9420 has spoken with the person. No injuries reported by the patient.”
The string of tweets continued until rescuers transmitted that they had figured out how to rescue the stranded man.
‘It progressed very fast’
Willis runs the St. Charles County Missouri Scanner Traffic page on Facebook, where he fills in 80,000 followers on the details of unfolding emergencies such as car accidents and house fires. He created the page and now runs it with the help of Survant and Jeff Summers, another scanner hobbyist. They operate the Twitter account, and a couple of years ago they started a Facebook and Twitter account for St. Louis County scanner traffic.
“I started (the St. Charles County page) in 2012 just as a hobby for myself,” Willis said. “At first it was pretty much to allow my friends to know what was going on because they knew I was always listening to police scanners, so they were like ‘Hey, what’s going on here, Shawn, what’s going on here?’ … A week later I had over 1,000 followers. I don’t know 1,000 people. It just progressed very fast, and over time it’s turned into a second full-time job.”
The trio also use the Facebook page to share safety tips and other announcements from law enforcement and firefighting agencies. Their posts, both scanner-related and not, often receive dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of reactions and spur conversations in the comments section.
“There’s been times when we’ve gotten messages from police officers as well as the general public where when we posted about (a stolen car), and then they’re able to recover the stolen vehicle,” Willis said.
There’s a learning curve for listening to scanners. Firefighters, paramedics and law enforcement use radios to convey important information to each other about crashes, fires, medical emergencies and crimes in progress, but they don’t all use the same radio lingo. Some agencies use plain language, others use numbered codes. Some agencies such as the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department have encrypted their radio transmissions so they can’t be heard at all.
Willis works for an HVAC company, but when he’s not at work, he’s often listening to scanners — from the moment he gets into his car to head home until he goes to sleep, five or six hours a day. He went through an EMT program and once aspired to be a firefighter.
In addition to running the scanner page, he volunteers to take photos for a couple of St. Charles County fire protection districts.
“It’s all about (public relations), which is why we have such a good relationship with the fire districts,” Willis said. “We help them out as much as we can. That’s what the page is built around is fire and EMS and law enforcement. Any chance I get to buy a police officer his item he’s buying at QuikTrip, I do.”
Listening to scanners also takes patience. For every thrilling rescue or nail-biting car chase that comes through the scanner, there are many more small fires and minor medical calls that regular listeners don’t find worthy of a tweet or post.
“It’s a lot like fishing,” said David Walters, who operates the Scanner News STL Twitter account. “You can go at it a long time and get absolutely nothing.”
Walters has been running his St. Louis-area Twitter account only since 2016 and his Facebook account since 2017, but his hobby harks back to the ’90s when he did live radio reports on traffic.
Rather than spending hundreds of dollars on scanners, Walters listens to transmissions through websites that provide scanner feeds for free. (Broadcastify provides live feeds of scanner transmissions with the help of scanner hobbyists.) Walters switches on six or seven channels at a time and follows major emergencies through the chatter with a discerning ear, posting updates to his pages in the broadcast writing style he learned while working for a radio station.
“Report a larceny just occurred at the Dollar General, 10 Fee Fee Road near Midland,” a December tweet from Scanner News STL reads. “Female suspect (reportedly wearing a tan coat with fur) allegedly fled the scene in a gold in color minivan with a male subject. Vehicle was last reportedly seen northbound on Fee Fee.”
“I just like it,” said Walters, who lives in unincorporated St. Louis County. “I’m a naturally curious guy, and I’ve always been interested in local stuff.”
His family is supportive of his hobby, he said, and he and his son sometimes visit fire stations in Jefferson and St. Louis counties.
“I went to almost every firehouse and got to meet these guys in person, and almost every time they invited us in and gave us a tour. They’ll sit in the firetruck and explain what they do, and they’re professional and they’re nice and they know what they’re doing. And obviously (I admire) their bravery and courage. On the scanner, you can hear some really scary stuff.”
On the Illinois side, Chris Rhodes has been running a Madison County-centric Facebook page since 2015. Rhodes has a scanner on both floors of his East Alton home and one in his car. He said he grew up around scanners because his father was a firefighter for 14 years. He is also a volunteer firefighter for Bethalto.
“I got laid off from my job and I was looking for something to do to pass the time, and I saw the St. Charles County page was doing pretty good,” Rhodes said. “We didn’t have one in Madison County. I was hoping to get 300 or 400 followers, and now it’s at 30,000.”
When it comes to scanner social media pages run by hobbyists, opinions from actual first responders vary. St. Louis Fire Department Capt. Garon Mosby said he was “not supportive” because audiences couldn’t know how proficient a hobbyist is at understanding what firefighters and paramedics are talking about on the radio waves. He encouraged people to follow the fire department’s official social media accounts to stay informed.
“We work very hard to build trust,” Mosby said, “We want people to seek a reputable source of information, and when emergencies break out, the fire chief sometimes has to clean up misinformation.”
Wentzville Fire Chief John Schneider took a different tone, saying he’s gotten to know Willis over the years and has seen the posts of the St. Charles County scanner Facebook page.
“They’ve done a really nice job of communicating the traffic that goes on the radio and turning around and putting it on social media for the public,” Schneider said. “That’s where they fit in … they’ve done a tremendous service to residents on (conveying) traffic conditions.”
Willis said he was thoughtful about anything he posts on Facebook. He knows it has a wide reach, and he doesn’t want to jeopardize police operations while they’re happening by making certain things public.
The growing audience of their social media offerings has even brought the scanner guys a measure of local fame. During an interview with the Post-Dispatch, Willis was approached by a star-struck woman who saw his shirt with a St. Charles County Scanner Traffic logo emblazoned on it.
“I’m super intrigued you run the scanner page because I follow it like crazy,” she said. “It’s like meeting a celebrity right now.”
The Los Angeles Fire Department is set to introduce a fifth Leonardo AW139 intermediate, twin-engine helicopter into its fleet. The aircraft is expected to be delivered from Leonardo’s Philadelphia facility in Spring 2019 and will be used to perform a range of missions like fire suppression, emergency medical service (EMS) and search and rescue (SAR).
The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) protects more than four million people in America’s second largest city. It is responsible for more than 400 square miles, 106 stations, and over 3,200 firefighters. LAFD Air Operations’ mission includes fire suppression, air ambulance transport, hoist rescues, reconnaissance and mapping. Its helicopter fleet is housed at Van Nuys Airport (KVNY).
The existing fleet of four LAFD-owned AW139s combined have logged more than 7,000 flight hours since the first helicopter entered service in 2008, responding to more than 700 incidents annually. Leonardo explains these AW139s have been crucial for suppressing wildfires throughout Southern California. Features customized for the LAFD AW139 include, among others, search light, rescue hoist, advanced water tank for fire suppression, wire-cutter and modular cabin interior.
More than 270 customers from some 70 nations have ordered over 1,100 AW139s, used for roles like government and public utility, EMS, SAR, patrol, homeland security and transport duties. More than 900 AW139s have been delivered worldwide to date and have logged in excess of two million flight hours.
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Scanning enthusiast Alan Henney at his home in Takoma Park, Md. (Terrence McCoy/The Washington Post)
In a white house on a quiet, leafy street in Takoma Park, Md., lives a man who listens to nothing but mayhem. He is remarkable not because of his appearance — tall, thin, black hair — but for what he has around him at all times: scanners.
On this day, the scanners of Alan Henney — whose tweets of bedlam are followed by dozens of Washington journalists — were going full blast. Eleven cluttered his coffee table and living room, all tuned to different radio frequencies from across the region. There was the chirp of D.C. Fire and EMS responders. The prattle of dispatch in Prince George’s County. And the broadcast of Montgomery County officials telling of a traffic accident, which, Henney concluded solemnly, “doesn’t sound very good.”
Something else that didn’t sound very good: the garbled noise coming from one scanner, obscuring D.C. police chatter. To Henney it sounded like death — not the death caused by crime or traffic accidents, but the demise of a passion.
Across the United States, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people like Henney who listen to official communications on radio signals, sifting through a morass of chatter for interesting news. Some pester crime reporters with tips. Others, such as Henney, showcase the hard-won news items — like gem hunters would a stone — on their social media feeds. But soon, Henney fears, all of that may end. And what will become of the scanner enthusiasts when there’s nothing left to scan?
Over the past few years, an increasing number of municipalities and police departments, including the District’s, have begun encrypting their radioed communications, a trend driven in part by fear that bad guys and terrorists need to do little more nowadays than download a police-scanning app to get all the intelligence they need on what police are doing and where. Just this year, police in Las Vegas, Richmond and Knoxville, Tenn., have encrypted their radio communication.
But what police are calling a public safety measure, scanner hobbyists are describing as a blow to transparency. Now they’re asking plaintive questions about whether it portends the end of a pastime once incubated in science clubs and Scout groups.
“Who’s to blame? Who caused it? . . . What’s the future?” despaired one enthusiast in a YouTube video shot amid his scanners and wires.
“Is our hobby dying?” lamented a chat thread on RadioReference.com.
“The easy days of scanning are gone,” prophesied a post on eHam.net.
In the D.C. region, the keeper of the scanners’ code, and a source of stability in these turbulent scanning times, is Henney — director of the Capitol Hill Monitors group, publisher of the Capitol Hill Monitor periodical and author of the 534-page Washington-Baltimore Scanner Almanac. He spends his days at home now, tending to his ailing 87-year-old mother, planning annual regional scanner gatherings, listening to the channels he still gets and tweeting updates in the staccato voice of a just-the-facts-ma’am newsman. Meanwhile, he apportions blame for the possible collapse of his obsession.
High up on the list: Radio Shack.
There was a time when Henney was getting started — just a boy and his scanner, given to him by his father as a birthday gift — that Radio Shack was a haven for enthusiasts like him. But then the company pivoted from the radio to other electronics — and the sense of disillusionment in the scanning community was great indeed.
“Abandoned,” Henney mourned. “Many of us felt abandoned by Radio Shack.”
It was only the beginning. Police and other public safety agencies started switching to a more complicated trunked radio system, requiring the purchase of additional equipment and sending the expense of the hobby soaring. Then came the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and, with it, increased concern over securing communications. More recently has arrived a new generation of Americans who are less enamored of the radio waves, preferring social media and newer technologies.
“I’m not saying enthusiasts my age do not exist,” said Kenny Lorber, 27, who also volunteers with the Montgomery County Park Police. “But they are definitely dwindling.”
So, too, are the number of people going to Henney’s annual scanning meetings, plunging from a height of about 50 people in the 1990s to fewer than half that number these days. Even longtime scanning buffs have started dropping out.
“In November, I turned 80 years old,” said Willard Hardman, who wrote the scanning almanac with Henney. To him, scanning is no longer “cost-effective.”
“As a result,” he said, “I sold or gave away my equipment and left the hobby.”
Those who have left, and those who aren’t willing to take up the avocation in the first place, are missing out on what scanning buffs describe as an unfiltered, fully texturized reality — undiluted by information gatekeepers such as journalists and spokesmen.
“This radio traffic really gives you the pulse of the city and makes you realize how many stories are not being told,” said Luke Berndt, who got into this when he was living near the Adams Morgan fire station and his daughter kept wondering where the trucks were going. The answer, it often seemed, was to tend to an overdose. This was an event, he learned, that occurred thousands of times every year in the District but was rarely reported.
This plumbing of a city’s underside, accessing knowledge few have — all of it mingles to yield an intoxicating feeling that has kept Henney, who supports himself with rental properties in Delaware’s Rehoboth Beach, coming back for more.
He now stood for lunch. He buckled one scanner onto his belt. Then he put on a black vest with big cargo pockets. Into each, he fitted a scanner. He started for the door wearing five or six scanners and got into a car fitted with two extra radio antennas and equipped with a catalogue of radio channels.
“What if something big happens and I miss it? I don’t like to miss stuff,” he said by way of explanation as he drove to Mark’s Kitchen, a Takoma Park restaurant. There, he set up shop at a side table, arraying his scanners before him. Sometimes people look at him a little funny, but he rarely pays attention. His focus is on the news that could happen at any moment.
So far that day, there had been only one bit of news that he said “rises to the level of a tweet.”
It hadn’t been big. Just an all-terrain vehicle crash near Camp Springs, Md., with “serious but hopefully [nonlethal] injuries for the ATV rider,” as he’d reported. But it had been big enough: Enough for the public to know. Enough to distract him from the feeling that one day he may not have any more news to share.
Back at his house an hour later, he saw no one had followed up on his tip. But maybe someone would with the next one.
Los Angeles firefighters put out hot spots Monday, Dec. 10, 2018, at the scene of a large fire that broke out at a strip mall on the 12700 block of San Fernando Road in Sylmar. (Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News)
Firefighters Monday extinguished a greater-alarm blaze that damaged part of an L-shaped strip mall in Sylmar, and no one was hurt.
The fire was reported December 10th at 3:47 a.m. at 12777 San Fernando Road and extinguished in about two hours and 50 minutes, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Firefighters were forced out of the interior and off of the roof on one section of the building because the structural integrity of the roof over the unit where the fire burned was poor, and a section of the roof eventually collapsed, the LAFD reported.
More than 100 firefighters were assigned to the blaze. The majority of the businesses were saved, LAFD spokesman Brian Humphrey said.
The cause of the fire was under investigation. A damage estimate was not immediately available.