Sunday, May 31, 2015

Hollister / SBC PAL Partnership

Public safety is a broad term used to identify safety elements such as emergency medical, law enforcement and fire protection. Also in this continuum is code enforcement, emergency management, engineering and environmental health. There is probably many more.

The very essence of public safety is we HELP people.

Sometimes I must make decisions that affect a lot of people. Sometimes those decisions affect a small amount of people. When I make decisions, I use my experience, my staff and research and apply it to my heart and then make the call. 

In 2014, I threw out the first pitch at a SBHS Varsity game. It was great chatting with the young athletes and Coach Aviles. If you know Coach Aviles, you know that he teaches respect, integrity and self worth. He is in the business of making men from boys and winning baseball games. He is great at both disciplines. We are lucky to have a coach of his caliber in our community.
As I sat there and watched the game, I wondered if any of these kids would be the next Brandon Crawford or Will Clark. I wondered if there were any others in our community. I wondered if there were kids that hadn't the opportunity to realize their dreams in sports or any other activity in our community. I felt that there was a possible void in service with those kids whose parents that could afford to send their kids to organized sports and activities and those parents that could not afford it. To me, this WAS a potential public safety issue as there were kids in our community that might need our HELP.

I thought; wait, this is Hollister, we are better than that. If a child in our community wants to participate in a activity, we need to figure out a way to make that happen. 

So, I spoke to the Hollister City Manager, William Avera in the summer of 2014. I pitched (pun intended) an idea that would integrate the City of Hollister recreation programs with our local San Benito County Police Activities League. I also felt with this partnership we could bring in new programs, such as Jr Giants baseball and others. I also asked that these programs be open to any child in the county. I figured we could do everything within five years.

As I've said many times before, I think great recreation programs are potentially great crime prevention. If you find a kids currency (interest) then you will have their interest. That interest could blossom into something truely great.

The City Manager immediately agreed with me and our City Council agreed as well. We met with SBC PAL that week and we all agreed to transform both programs into something bigger and better. In fact, Hollister Recreation immediately began working on this new concept. They contacted the San Francisco Giants and the United States Tennis Association (USTA) that same week and began the process of applying for new programs. In one months time of this new partnership, we secured the Jr Giants program and USTA's HITS Jr. Tennis program for our city and county. 

Fast forward to this week......On June 2, 2015 at 6:00 PM we will have our communities very first Jr Giants First Pitch meeting at Marguerite Maze School. We expect about 1,100 people at the meeting including about 530 kids signed up for Jr Giants inaugural season here in our community. I was told last week that with this number of kids in Jr. Giants, it makes our local Jr. Giants program one of the biggest ones in the Jr. Giants system. 
This program will work because of our partnerships are strong. This program will work because, many of you out there will help us. Hollister always helps when its needed.

What I thought would take five years, took a little over 5 months. Just think of what we as a community can do in five years.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

I am a father, husband, neighbor, county resident, Californian, American and Chief of Police. I am you and I work for you. All races, beliefs, social statuses...everyone. I think about that, each and everyday as I slip my boots on and head to work.

I am sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States and our own Constitution of California. This is an important concept and really the starting point for my thoughts today.

In October 2013, State Senator Anthony Cannella's revenge porn bill (SB 255) was signed into law by Governor Brown. I applaud Senator Cannella's efforts in protecting Californians with this legislation (more on this later). Also in October 2013, Assemblymember Luis Alejo's Safe and Responsible Driver Act (AB 60) was also signed into law by Governor Brown. AB 60 allows undocumented immigrants to obtain a California Driver's license. Congressman Sam Farr sponsored the bill that made Pinnacles National Park in the State of California as a unit of the National Park System (H.R. 3641). A great addition to our National Park System and the pride of our own San Benito County.

My point being is that these three men, have done a lot for us, you may or may not agree with all of there philosophies but we can agree they are working for us and representing us here locally. I obviously didn't mention their combined list of successful legislation, but it is long for all three. This however, isn't a political ad, statement or endorsement. I'm a cop, therefore I am apolitical.

My job is to protect people and property. It is what all law enforcement officers are sworn to do, daily.

In the last several years, there has been a growing problem within the ranks of our youth and sometimes our adults. The problem permeates almost every facet of our lives.

The problem: Social media needs legislated regulation both in our state and nationally.

I'm not talking about First Amendment regulation. That must be preserved and protected at all costs. I am talking about basic common sense logical legislation that would easily pass the reasonable person standard.

This is about  protecting our nations kids, period.

Most social media firms have fairly good tools available to assist law enforcement. I say fairly good, because for the most part they are cooperative AFTER law enforcement obtains a search warrant or a preservation order. Obtaining these documents can take time and serving them electronically can also take time. Time is one of the problems. A lot of damage can be done socially, psychologically and financially when there's extended time in these investigations / inquiries. When an officer serves a preservation or search warrant on social media, they have ten days to respond. Yes I said ten days. Ten days is WAY to long to wait for this information or action by the firm.

We must reduce the time it takes for these incidents to stabilize, significantly.

Here are a few examples of social media / law enforcement related incidents and problems:

Hollister girl posts nude photos and fights on Instagram to gain popularity

5 Capitola students suspended after threat found on Instagram

Nude Snapchat selfie spurs discussion about minors' use of social media

Police investigating 'inappropriate' photos uploaded by students

These are but a few examples in a sea of thousands of social media incidents.

California law is specific - California Penal Code section 647 (4) (A) Any person who intentionally distributes the image of the intimate body part or parts of another identifiable person (Thank you Senator Cannella). There's a few things I think that could be added (ie: acts occurring on school grounds or within 1000 feet of a school, etc), but it's generally a very good addition to California law.

What I would propose to our elected officials is that they help provide the necessary tools for law enforcement to be able to act in a more timely manner and obtain evidence quicker in these types of incidents in social media. What I'm saying is, we need a Social Media Responsibility Act.

What I am asking is:

1) Require the social media firm to take action within 48 hrs upon receipt of a search warrant, preservation warrant or Order to Suspend* account or page.

2) Since social media is 24/7 have an available public safety liaison 24/7 for verifiable emergencies.

3) Have civil penalties to those Social Media firms that do not comply.

* Order to Suspend is a new concept I would be proposing

In closing:

I am not trying to demonize social media. There have been many positive things that have occurred with the advent of social media. Our department has solved many cases with the help and cooperation of social media firms. Like many things that are new, we need to provide those things to help them be successful. After all, I'm sure folks that work in social media have kids too.