Beverly Hills Police Department Completes Rollout of Body-Worn Cameras

Acting Lieutenant Blake Nance attaches a body-worn camera to his uniform during a recent training session on the operation of the devices, which will record video and audio of police interactions with the public. Photo by Lou Ponsi/Behind the Badge

After a series of four-hour training sessions, the Beverly Hills Police Department last week became the latest to require nearly all sworn officers to wear body-worn cameras — a welcomed move in a city devoted to safety and transparency.

“I think the body-worn cameras are the industry standard and an expectation for police agencies,” said Lt. Michael Hill, who is overseeing the training and use of the cameras, adding that most sworn personnel have a positive perception of the devices.

For nearly half of the 15,000-plus law enforcement agencies in the U.S., body worn cameras became standard issue by 2016, according to a November 2018 report published by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The cameras capture video and audio of interactions between officers and the public in real time. Early research shows the cameras reduce conflicts, are useful in training, and provide helpful evidence to support public safety.

Officers have been responding to the new cameras positively. Shortly after he’d been issued a camera, one officer was able to record a felony car stop involving a stolen vehicle, the lieutenant said.

“He said, ‘I got it all on video,’” Hill said.

Another officer used the camera’s photo feature to take dozens of photos of what Hill described as a “complicated arrest.”

“He took like 50 photos,” Hill said. “He said it was simple. Everything has been positive so far.”

Beverly Hills P.D. began researching body worn cameras, engaging in a three-phase testing period that involved 11 officers trying eight different types of cameras. Officers assessed the ease of operation, ease of downloading video, battery life, and evidence security.

After narrowing the field down to two choices, the department initiated a second phase of testing. A third phase of testing involved the department’s final choice, the Axon 2. In February, the Beverly Hills City Council unanimously approved the purchase of 175 body-worn cameras.

The cameras allow officers to initiate video capture, take still photos, and integrate data from the department’s dispatch system. In addition to the body-worn cameras, officers will continue to use their dash cam systems.

Before rolling out the cameras, the department met with the City Attorney, consulted with the Beverly Hills Police Officers Association and sought feedback from officers and community members in order to craft a policy regarding what types of contacts should be recorded. The police department wants to be sensitive when interviewing certain types of crime victims.

“The first thing is a good policy, so that the officers feel comfortable and supervisors feel comfortable with it,” Hill said. “And the district attorneys are expecting videos for filing.”

It’s important to note that the cameras have limitations, as they are worn at chest level and don’t necessarily pick up everything an officer sees. Sometimes the cameras view might be obstructed. And the cameras don’t pick up light as well as the human eye.

“It’s very helpful on subjective things like a DUI,” Hill said. “You can write it down in your report and say he was slurring his words, but when you play it, it’s clear.”


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OCFA Chief Orders Decryption of Firefighter Radios

The Orange County Fire Authority will reprogram its radios less than a week after the scheduled encryption of its radio and dispatch communications, following complaints that the move blocks the public from tuning in during emergencies. (Photo by Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The Orange County Fire Authority has reversed its decision to encrypt its radio and dispatch communications that was initiated Monday. The encryption was part of the county’s upgrade of its 800 MHz Countywide-Coordinated Communications System, managed by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

Officials said the move was meant to improve public safety agencies’ ability to communicate with each other during an emergency, but because it blocks the public from tuning into its communications during disasters, the OCFA decided to reverse the encryption of more than 1,500 radios used by its firefighters and paramedics.

OCFA Chief Brian Fennessy revisited the decision Thursday during a meeting of the Orange County Fire Chiefs Assn., stating that the public’s ability to stay informed during emergencies trumped concerns about operational security. It will take about 30 to 60 days to reprogram all of the radios.

The temporary encryption riled those who listen to radio scanners, including journalists who depend on communications to follow public safety agencies’ operations.

Police departments say they’ve shifted to encrypted channels to protect officers; their critics say it’s a tool to conceal their activities from the public.

“The decision to encrypt was made for safety reasons after an active shooter incident,” Fennessy wrote in a statement. “My decision today provides for safety of firefighters and the public.”

The about-face decision comes as state officials announce that this year’s fire season is expected to be the most destructive in California history.

Orange County firefighters will still have the ability on a case-by-case basis to switch to encrypted channels to securely communicate with police and sheriff’s deputies during a SWAT operation or bomb threat, OCFA spokeswoman Colleen Windsor said.

The Orange County Fire Chiefs Assn. made the decision to encrypt radios several years ago before many of the current fire chiefs were hired, Windsor said.

OCFA budgeted $7.54 million in the 2016-2017 fiscal year to purchase and install 1,555 portable, mobile, and base station radios. The agency budgeted another $3.53 million in fiscal year 2018-19 to update 18 dispatch consoles in its Emergency Command Center. Last week, the Fire Authority finished installing the last of the new encrypted radios.

Dave Toussaint, a retired Cal Fire firefighter and freelance photographer, listens to scanners almost every day and tweets about emergencies, especially wildfires in California. After 32 years in the fire service, the Riverside resident recognizes the value that scanners provide in providing timely information about scenarios when public information officers often need to wait for approval from department leaders.

“I honestly believe nothing that a fire department does needs to be encrypted at all,” Toussaint said. “The last thing they need to do is hide behind encryption. The first thing people think is what are you hiding.”

The Fire Authority denies that secrecy had anything to do with the initial decision to encrypt its radios.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Windsor said. “We push out information on incidents on our home page. We want people to be informed. This is in no way to quash any kind of information.”

Scanner listeners provide a valuable service to the public because, as independent news gatherers, they’re not handcuffed by the procedures that can delay information from getting to people in danger, Toussaint said.

For example, Toussaint was listening to online scanners from Butte County in the early minutes of the Camp Fire. He immediately started posting about the fire’s progress toward the town of Paradise and that residents needed to get out.

“In the Camp Fire, they didn’t send out a text until two and a half hours into the incident,” Toussaint said. “It was already well into Paradise by that part.”

Source: Los Angeles Times

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Philadelphia Oil Refinery Explosion Shakes City With Huge Fireball

Video footage captures explosion at Philadelphia-area oil refinery from CNBC.

An orange fireball filled the sky in Philadelphia early Friday after an explosion at an oil refinery in the southwest part of the city.

From Pennsylvania to New Jersey, there were reports of homes shaking, as people awoke to a smoke-filled sky and orders to shelter in place.

No significant injuries were reported, according to the Philadelphia Fire Department, which was working to put out the fire Friday morning.

Firefighters responded to a report of an explosion around 4 a.m. at Philadelphia Energy Solutions, a refining complex near the Schuylkill River between the city’s international airport and downtown. The complex includes two refineries, which together can process about 335,000 barrels of crude oil per day. It is the largest oil refining complex on the Eastern Seaboard, according to the company.

The Philadelphia Fire Department confirmed that there had been a “smaller fire” at the facility earlier this month, on June 10.

A spokeswoman for Philadelphia Energy Solutions did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company has struggled with debt and emerged from bankruptcy last year, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

On Friday, officials discovered a fire stemming from a vat of butane, a colorless gas that is highly flammable, according to Craig Murphy, a deputy fire commissioner with the Philadelphia Fire Department, who spoke at a news conference Friday morning.

“The fire is not under control yet,” he said.

He said one employee had complained of chest pains, but did not need to be taken to a hospital.

Videos on social media showed an enormous fireball lighting up the sky and continuing to burn after daybreak. It could be seen from highways and homes, in a city of more than 1.5 million people.

The Philadelphia Fire Department said about 120 employees were on site, working with firefighters from the facility. By about 7 a.m., the shelter-in-place order had been lifted but officials advised commuters to avoid the area.

From 2011 to 2015, fire departments responded to an average of nearly 38,000 fires at industrial or manufacturing properties in the United States each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association.


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Anaheim Firefighters Train for Safer Elevator Rescues

The Anaheim Fire Department trains recruits on elevator rescue protocols on Friday, April 26, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. Photo by Carlos Delgado

Being trapped in an elevator is a nightmare scenario for many, but those in Anaheim can rest assured that Anaheim Fire & Rescue is prepared.

The department is training firefighters on rescuing people from a stuck elevator with little or no damage to the machine. Anaheim Fire & Rescue receives about 120 calls per year for elevator rescues. Station 3, in the resort district, handles the majority of those calls.

The Anaheim Fire Department trains recruits on elevator rescue protocols on Friday, April 26, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. Photo by Carlos Delgado

In an effort to better handle these incidents, Anaheim Fire & Rescue’s training company and Truck 1, 18 Anaheim fire academy recruits, and Truck 62 from Newport Beach Fire Department recently practiced their elevator rescue skills in a parking structure near Anaheim City Hall and in the elevators at Anaheim Memorial Manor.

If no one is in physical danger, those in the elevator can wait for mechanics to arrive and release them. In rare situations when there is a medical emergency, those inside need to be rescued sooner. Previously, firefighters used hydraulic rescue tools to cut into elevators during rescues, which damaged the machines.

The Anaheim Fire Department trains recruits on elevator rescue protocols on Friday, April 26, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. Photo by Carlos Delgado

“We needed to find a way that we can work together with the elevator industry to resolve these issues without causing a ton of damage and while still keeping people safe, which was really our primary focus,” Anaheim Fire & Rescue Firefighter Mike Houghton said.

Houghton attended an elevator entrapment training in 2013 and began spreading that knowledge throughout Anaheim Fire & Rescue. The department often invites nearby fire agencies, such as the Newport Beach Fire Department, to join their training because opportunities to practice on a working elevator are scarce.

“It’s not a scenario where we can build a training prop down at North Net that’s going to really mimic what they’re going to see in the field,” Houghton said. “We need to come out into real buildings.”

The Anaheim Fire Department trains recruits on elevator rescue protocols on Friday, April 26, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. Photo by Carlos Delgado

Elevator rescues are tricky. Not all elevators are built the same, and with different locking mechanisms, it can be tough to get the doors open. The fire department’s ladder trucks store the needed tools to respond to elevator rescues.

“This is technically more of a rescue type of operation and that’s what the ladder trucks do,” said Anaheim Fire & Rescue Captain Brent Faulkner. “We’re a huge rolling toolbox, basically.”

The Anaheim Fire Department trains recruits on elevator rescue protocols on Friday, April 26, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. Photo by Carlos Delgado

The first step is resetting the power. Sometimes that fixes the problem, firefighters said. If that doesn’t work, the next step is gaining a better view by looking down the elevator shaft from above or from an adjacent elevator, Anaheim Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief Tim Sandifer explained.

“It’s important for us to practice on these (both hydraulic and traction electric elevators) different rescue techniques and different ways to gain access into the elevators,” said Anaheim Fire & Rescue Captain Brad Oye.

The Anaheim Fire Department trains recruits on elevator rescue protocols on Friday, April 26, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. Photo by Carlos Delgado

Next, they guide tools into place to unlock the doors, similar to using a wire hanger to unlock a car door.

If a person were trapped inside, the firefighters have several options. They can pull the person through an escape hatch in the ceiling or open the doors to the building so the person can get out if the elevator is positioned right. If the elevator is hydraulic, firefighters can slowly lower the car into a position that makes it easier for people to walk out.

“We can manipulate (the locks) in a certain way around the door to unlock the interlock without causing any damage, which is really the key component to all this,” Houghton said. “It’s faster than forcible entry, it maintains the integrity of the building, it doesn’t damage any of the building owner’s property, and it gets the people out of their trapped situation very quickly.”


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Radio Amateur to Lose License as Part of Enforcement Case Settlement

FCC Logo

A New Jersey radio amateur, David S. Larsen Sr., WS2L, of Highland Park, will surrender his Amateur Extra-class license and pay a $7,500 civil penalty as part of a Consent Decree with the FCC to settle an enforcement action. An FCC Enforcement Bureau Order released June 18 said Larsen violated the Communications Act of 1934 and Part 90 rules by operating on frequencies licensed to the Borough of Highland Park for public safety communication.

As part of the settlement, Larsen agrees that he will admit making the unauthorized transmissions, not engage in unauthorized use of a radio station, and surrender radios in his possession capable of transmitting on the town’s public safety frequencies. If the Commission finds that Larsen has made unauthorized radio transmissions or otherwise violates the terms of the Consent Decree, he’ll be subject to an additional $32,500 civil penalty. The agreement stipulates that Larsen may not apply for a new Amateur Radio license for 3 years.

The case stems from a May 2018 complaint of unauthorized transmissions on the Highland Park municipal radio system. FCC agents followed up with several visits to the town.

“Based on information provided by the complainant and direct observations by the Bureau’s agents, the unauthorized transmissions consisted of brief, pre-recorded sounds (such as the sad trombone sound),” the FCC said in the Consent Decree. The FCC said individuals the agents interviewed identified Larsen — a former rescue squad volunteer — as the person who was likely responsible.

Responding to an FCC Letter of Inquiry, Larsen subsequently contacted the Enforcement Bureau and related that the unauthorized transmissions had ceased. Last fall, Larsen, responded to the inquiry through counsel to deny making the unauthorized transmissions. A short time after that, the unauthorized transmissions resumed, and the FCC resumed its investigation, attempting to trace the source of the transmissions. Last March, agents used direction-finding equipment at a fixed location near the complainant’s residence, while other agents conducted mobile direction finding of Larsen’s vehicle in transit.

“The four agents observed Mr. Larsen pull over to the side of the road on the way to his home,” the Consent Decree recounts. “The four Bureau agents observed (a) that during the brief stop, Mr. Larsen remained in his vehicle, (b) while stopped, a brief transmission consisting of the sad trombone sound emanated from the direction of Mr. Larsen’s vehicle on a frequency licensed for use by the Highland Park Radio System, and (c) following the transmission of the sad trombone sound, Mr. Larsen resumed his drive to his residence.”

The FCC said agents returned in April to observe Larsen repeat the earlier behavior, including a similar transmission emanating from Mr. Larsen’s vehicle, according to the Decree.

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3 Burglary Suspects Arrested After Pursuit on 60 Fwy Ends With Box Truck Tearing Off Door in South El Monte

BY CINDY VON QUEDNOW, KTLA, Published 10:46 AM, January 18, 2019. Updated AT 05:20 PM, JANUARY 18, 2019

Authorities have guns drawn after a pursuit ends near the 60 Freeway on Jan. 18, 2019. (Credit: KTLA)

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.

Source: KTLA

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LAPD used drone for first time in recent Koreatown standoff that ended with arrest of robbery suspect

By JOSH CAIN | | 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.”

Source:, LAPD YouTube channel

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Police Set to Beef Up Security at Schools if Teachers Strike

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.

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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Police and Fire Memorabilia Show January 19th

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Uniden Announces New SDS-200 Scanner

Introducing the SDS200, Uniden’s latest and most advanced base/mobile digital trunking scanner.

The SDS200 incorporates the latest True I/Q receiver technology, which provides the best digital decode performance in the industry, even in challenging receive environments.

The SDS200’s other major features includes:

3.5″ Customizable Color Display

1.5X Din-E (300 mm x 75 mm) chassis

Ext. Sp. Jack

Auxiliary USB Type A jack for future expansion

Ethernet connectivity for remote streaming and control*

Trunktracker X

APCO P25 Phase I and II

Motorola, EDACS, and LTR Trunking

MotoTRBO Capacity + and Connect +**

DMR Tier III**

Hytera XPT**

Single-Channel DMR**

NXDN 4800 and 9600**

EDACS ProVoice**

Location-Based Scanning

USA/Canada Radio Database

ZIP Code Selection for Easy Setup

GPS Connectivity for simple mobile operation

Close Call™ RF Capture with Do Not Disturb

8 GB micro SD

Soft Keys for Intelligent UI

Recording, Playback, and Replay

Temporary Avoid

Fire Tone-Out Alert

System Analysis and Discovery

CTCSS/DCS/NAC/RAN/Color Code Decoding

S.A.M.E. Weather Alert

Enhanced Dynamic Memory

Preemptive Trunking Priority

Multi-Site System Scanning

Fully Customizable Scanning with your own Favorites Lists

Backlit Keypad

Channel Volume Offset

PC Programming and Control

USB Connectivity

Weekly Database Updates

Free Sentinel Software keeps the SDS200 database and memory up to date

Frequency Coverage:

25-512 MHz

758-824 MHz

849-869 MHz

895-960 MHz

1240-1300 MHz

* Additional or 3rd-Party software may be required.
** Paid upgrades required for DMR, NXDN, and ProVoice monitoring

Per Uniden, expected first delivery before mid-February (may be limited qty available in January).

Price is $749.95 (See Universal Radio)

Uniden SDS200 Site

Youtube Video Showing the SDS200 in action

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