Bankruptcy Judge: San Bernardino May Outsource Fire Department

SBFD_PatchNothing in the city charter prevents San Bernardino from outsourcing its Fire Department, a federal bankruptcy judge ruled Wednesday in a blow to the fire union that its attorneys immediately said they would appeal.

The ruling clears the way for the city’s plans to replace city firefighters — plans that have been underway for months with the San Bernardino County Fire Department and the private firm Centerra submitting bids to provide fire service, and which the city counted on to save $7 million to $10 million a year in itsbankruptcy exit plan filed in May.

It’s a limited ruling, because U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Jury said attorneys may be able to convince her later that state law requires the city to go through a formal “meet and confer” process with union officials before outsourcing, but it clearly — and unsurprisingly — went against the union, said fire union attorney Corey Glave.

“This is not unexpected,” Glave told the judge after she gave a tentative ruling and invited him to argue against it. “This has been an anti-labor case from the beginning and it continues as such.”

Jury responded: “I don’t buy that, but go ahead.”

There are several parts of the city charter that the fire union alleges requires the city to have a Fire Department composed of city employees.

The union was backed up by a city attorney’s opinion from 1991, when James F. Penman was in office, advising that the charter did not permit outsourcing the police or fire departments. That was countered by an opinion current City Attorney Gary Saenz wrote after the outsourcing move had already begun, asserting the opposite.

Saenz’s extremely recent opinion shouldn’t be a factor, Jury said, and even Penman’s opinion written before the current controversy was more like a lawyer’s advice to a client than a neutral finding such as an attorney general’s opinion, she also said.

“Quite frankly, almost none,” she said of the influence city attorney opinions had on her decision. “I know that case law says I’m to give them (city attorney opinions) weight unless they’re ‘clearly erroneous.’ I guess I think it’s a flawed analysis of the law (to say the charter prohibits outsourcing), and if that makes it clearly erroneous, if that’s the words I’m supposed to say, I find it clearly erroneous.”

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New Electric Motorcycles Patrolling the Streets of Burbank

Burbank police have added a new electric motorcycle to its patrol fleet. Not only does the Zero motorcycle look different, it sounds different.

“Our Burbank Water and Power had some grant money, some funds for alternate-fuel vehicles,” Burbank Police Sgt. Kerry Schilf said. “We were able to fortunately purchase two motorcycles through a grant, and now we’re in a one-year pilot program and we’re testing them.”

The Zeros sit alongside Burbank’s usual BMW patrol bikes and are charged overnight to be ready for duty. So far, they’re a good fit for the city’s 18 square miles. Electric range varies, but could be anywhere from 100 to 200 miles.

The department’s two Zero DS models are identical to the ones available to the public at a suggested retail price starting at about $12,000 . The DS stands for “dual sport,” which means they’re also off-road capable for patrolling the city’s hills.

They’ve also turned out to be a conversation starter with members of the public.

“When people see us on it, they don’t know what to think,” said Officer Ryan Murphy, one of the department’s motorcycle officers who is using the new electric bikes. “The thing that’s neat about it is that we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback with the bike, so that’s always a good thing.”

The Zero DS models that Burbank police have are just like the ones available to the public. The department had to modify them for police use with lights and sirens, but they didn’t want to add too much equipment in order to keep them lightweight. They weigh just more than half of what the big BMW’s do, and the idea is to keep them that way for both efficiency and performance.

The Zero can get moving much more quickly than a regular motorcycle because there’s no engine to start or clutch to engage. Once the key is on, they can accelerate instantly from a standstill

So far, about halfway through a one-year evaluation, the electric cop bikes are coming through with flying colors.

“It’s just a hoot to ride. It’s very economical, and it leaves less of a carbon footprint, which is just outstanding,” noted Sgt. Schilf.

So if you are in Burbank and see these odd police bikes out on patrol, go ahead and give them a wave or a thumbs up. But keep in mind, they are the real deal. So if you see the colored lights on, yes, you still need to pull over.

Source:   (Dave Kunz)


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KCRW Studio Tour – June 2015


SCMA member Steve Herbert (LA-187, K6CRW) led fellow members on a tour of his workplace, radio station KCRW. Steve has worked here for 35 years and is the chief engineer for the station.

Members were shown all areas of the station including the studio spaces, equipment rooms and the massive KCRW music collection.

For more photos, please see the KCRW Studio Tour page.

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KTLA Newscopter Pilot & Reporter Tim Lynn

KTLA Helicopter News Pilot/Reporter Tim Lynn’s presentation about his career including highlights from pursuits, accidents, forest fires, and shootings. He also talks about becoming the news when smoke was billowing out of his helicopter and he had to make an emergency landing in Hollywood.

Found this video on YouTube and thought I’d post it here to share with the group. A lot of us follow Tim on Twitter and consider him one of the best and most professional pilot/reporters around.

Tim’s presentation was part of the celebrity lecture series at the Western Museum of Flight in Torrance, CA.

Thanks to Peninsula Seniors volunteers Betty and Jarel Wheaton in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. They have produced over 250 one hour documentaries for local cable channels and the internet. Key topics include aviation history, car shows, classic cars, museums, general interest, and experiences from our veterans.  Check out their YouTube channel at:


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KTLA Telecopter First Live Broadcast

“Introducing Telecopter 1″

In 1958 KTLA Channel 5 in Los Angeles became the first station to broadcast live video from a helicopter, It was the birth of the Telecopter and made Channel 5 the place for breaking news.

Thanks to National Helicopter Service who posted this video on their Facebook page.


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Bell Gardens Opts Out of County Emergency System

Bell Gardens PoliceBell Gardens has joined a growing list of municipalities opting to not buy into a new countywide emergency radio network being built under a plan approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

“As more and more cities withdrew their support of the system, the projected operating cost, which will be shared by the public agencies participating, continued to grow to a point that LA-RICS officials have had difficulty projecting what the eventual cost will be for cities like Bell Gardens,” City Manager Phil Wagner told EGP in an email.

It could be cost prohibitive for smaller cities like Bell Gardens, Wagner explained.

He was referring to plans to build a network of radio towers to allow first-responders from dozens of agencies to communicate quickly in an emergency.

The plan originally called for building 177 towers at a cost of roughly a half-million dollars each, paid for using $154 million in federal funding earmarked for the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System, or LA-RICS.

Most towers were proposed near county fire stations, prompting firefighters and residents to complain that radio emissions from the towers would pose a health hazard.

Supervisors in March voted to delay construction of the towers to do more outreach, but last week, seeking to balance public safety with health and aesthetic concerns raised by firefighters and homeowners, they approved a scaled-back network with about 60 sites, none of which are near county fire stations. Twenty-nine are county-controlled properties that already have transmitters on site, including 20 Sheriff’s Department facilities, four county hospitals or rehabilitation facilities and the county Fire Department’s command and control site. Another 16 are sites owned by various cities including the Bell Gardens Police Department, which has now decided against building a tower at the station.

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SCMA Member Photos of Van Nuys Barricaded Suspect

An SCMA member who shall remain anonymous sent in the following photos of the perimeter formed around a Van Nuys neighborhood. Officers received reports of a man with a gun. When they arrived they were greeted with a possible 5150 (Mentally Ill) subject armed with a handgun. His family members were not home at the time and were able to provide LAPD SWAT information as to the subjects state of mind.

Before this incident the subject was on a methamphetamine binge and had been served with a restraining order by his girlfriend. The suspect was allegedly pointing a handgun at children prior to police arriving.

Once officers and SWAT were on scene, “a couple of random shots” were fired by the suspect, but “police did not fire back,” said Sgt. Vincent Aguirre, an LAPD spokesman.

The unidentified man surrendered and walked out around 5:45 p.m., Aguirre said.

Some evacuations were ordered, police said. No injuries have been reported.

Here are some of the pictures, provided by an anonymous SCMA member.

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Another Shooting in Palms – SCMA Member Photographs the Scene

The Palms area of Los Angeles has once again seen another cold blooded murder. This is the second shooting that resulted in death in the span of a few days. On April 19th there was a string of 3 separate but related shootings. In a matter of minutes one person was killed and 3 others were injured.

Today’s shooting, like the ones before, are thought to be gang related.

Club member Manny Martinez, KA6VJI, LA-195 lives in the area and was able to capture photos of the aftermath of this shooting. Manny also photographed the first crime scene on the 19th. A special thanks to him for providing us his photographs. Below is his work from today:



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LA City Council Approves Police Sites for New LA-RICS LTE Plan


Los Angeles City Council members voted to approve the use of 19 city-owned police stations as the location of cell sites for the amended Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS) public-safety LTE proposal. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is expected to restart the project—suspended by NTIA since April 3—next week, according to the approved special motion.

Previously, the Los Angeles County board voted to support the LA-RICS corrective action plan that NTIA must approve before the suspension on the project is lifted. NTIA, which administers the key federal grant associated with the project, previously stated that it also needed LA City Council support to lift the suspension. That support came in the form of a special motion approved by a 14-0 vote.

“The Department of Commerce has requested City Council action consistent with the county action by Monday, April 20, in order to assure that the project move forward,” according to a statement made before the motion was considered.

In approving the new LA-RICS LTE proposal, the LA City Council also approved the inclusion of LTE cell sites being deployed at 19 city police stations, which means the new plan includes 83 cell sites—less than half the 177 cell sites in the LA-RICS network design that was undermined by opposition votes from elected officials from the county and the city more than two weeks ago.

Problems with the LA-RICS surfaced when a local firefighters union led a public campaign that claimed the RF emissions from the LTE towers being installed at city and county fire stations would create health dangers for the firefighters at those stations. No fire stations will host LTE cell sites under the new LA-RICS proposal.

“We’ve already eliminated the fire stations, because of the geographical constraints, in terms of the footprint of those,” Councilman Mitch Englander said during the meeting, which was webcast. “Most of them—a lot of them—don’t have communications towers on them already, unlike police stations that have existing equipment and much greater footprints. There’s a lot more area to mitigate and work around a police station, particularly because they have large parking lots.

“They also have the infrastructure already in place at every police station, versus the fire stations—that’s what this really addresses.”

Councilman Bob Blumenfield thanked Englander for his efforts and expressed support for the motion, which included an amendment that alternatives for a proposed San Vicente Peak cell site be considered.

“Not only is this a tremendous amount of federal money, but what’s at stake here is an interoperable communications system for emergency situations,” Blumenfield said. “We’ve been told in the past that one of the problems that happens is that police departments can’t communicate to other departments, etc. This is a major federal grant to allow us to improve our communication that will help with public safety and will help with emergency situations.”

On April 1, the LA City Council voted to halt construction of the LA-RICS LTE project at city-owned sites after receiving outspoken opposition from representatives of the firefighters union and the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL)—the local police union. Yesterday, LAPPL Director Peter Repovich thanked Englander for working “very closely” with the union “to address all of our concerns” on the item and expressed support for LTE project proceeding, with a caveat.

“We want to go on record that we support this motion,” Repovich said during the meeting. “However, if LA-RICS fails to live up to the spirit of the motion, then we’ll be forced to oppose this.

“In addition, we want to ensure that this system is viable. If the [LA-RICS] joint powers authority cannot complete this project in a timely manner, as outlined in the corrective action plan, then we will be opposed.”

Multiple speakers during the meeting expressed frustration that the LA-RICS item was not included on the City Council’s agenda and that no supporting documentation for the item was available. Englander said that U.S. Department of Commerce officials informed the city late Thursday that the LA City Council needed to take action “by Monday,” soNTIA could include the stance as it makes its decision whether to lift its suspension.

NTIA administers the $154.6 million federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant that is funding most of the proposed LA-RICS public-safety LTE network. Current law requires that BTOP funds be utilized by Sept. 30, meaning the deadline can be changed only by an act of Congress, according to an NTIA spokeswoman.

With this in mind, Los Angeles-area representatives are scheduled to travel next week to Washington, D.C., where they will meet with federal lawmakers and officials to determine whether there is any way to give LA-RICS additional time to complete its project.

Source: Urgent Communications


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Santa Monica Joint Dispatch Center Unites Police and Fire

SMPD CarFor years, the Santa Monica police and fire departments had separate dispatch centers. They operated independently, frequently collaborating but regularly coping with staffing shortages, information gaps and delayed responses.

The fatal shooting at Santa Monica College in 2013 was a watershed moment for the two agencies. If they hadn’t seen a pressing need for better coordination before, they certainly saw it then.

“They didn’t know what each other was doing,” said Christopher Herren, the communications administrator in the city Office of Emergency Management.

That dynamic is quickly changing. Herren is helping to oversee the merging of Santa Monica’s police and fire dispatch centers.

Earlier this year fire dispatchers joined their police counterparts in what had been the police dispatch center, which has 10 workstations and which is large enough to support both agencies under the Emergency Management umbrella.

Herren credited former City Manager Rod Gould with bringing the joint dispatch center to fruition.

“He was a big proponent of this — it may not have happened if he weren’t around,” he said. “Both departments were reluctant to give up control, and Rod basically said, ‘Let’s have you both give it up and move it under the Office of Emergency Management.’”

According to Herren, it’s not uncommon for police and fire departments in small cities or counties to have shared dispatch centers.

“We’re in an area with a lot of single agencies,” he said. “People say this isn’t done anywhere, but the reality is that, in cities our size, this is much more common.”

The primary goal was not to cut costs, Herren said, but rather to improve response efforts and, therefore, public safety.

Emergency management officials said in an October report about the joint dispatch center that the merge is “essential in addressing the changing nature of public safety in today’s complex environment. Almost all significant public safety events require cooperation and coordination between the different branches of first responders.”

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