Officials Propose Sobriety Center for Homeless People
SAN PEDRO — On Oct. 28, Councilman Buscaino met with Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas and Dr. Mitchell H. Katz, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, who proposed an idea of a “sobriety center” for the chronically homeless.
Currently, the LAFD and the Los Angeles Police Department only have the option of the emergency room or jail when transporting the chronically inebriated. Both of these current options are a huge drain on financial resources. Both Terrazas andDr. Katz told stories of individuals who are transported over a dozen times per month to either the emergency room or jail.
Terrazas said that 20 individuals account for 2,000 LAFD calls. Prior to his role in Los Angeles County, Katz was the director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, where he successfully implemented a “sobriety center” program.
Buscaino said he is bringing this idea to his next Homelessness Task Force meeting.
LONG BEACH — On Oct. 31, at about 3:30 a.m., Long Beach Police Department officers responded to the shooting of a man in the 1000 block of Olive Avenue.
Long Beach Fire Department paramedics took the man to a local hospital where he died a short time later.
A motive for the shooting is unknown and the investigation remains ongoing.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to call (562) 570-7244 or visit www.LACrmeStoppers.org.
Elderly Woman Killed in Halloween Traffic Fatality
LONG BEACH — On Oct. 31, Long Beach Police Department officers responded to a traffic collision near the intersection of Pacific Avenue and 14th Street, where an elderly woman was struck by a 2005 Acura Legend.
Apparently, the driver, a 20-year-old man, was travelling northbound on Pacific Avenue when he struck the woman who was trying to cross the street westbound on Pacific Avenue, just north of 14th Street, outside the crosswalk.
Long Beach Fire Department paramedics took the victim to a local hospital where she was pronounced deceased.
The Los Angeles County Coroner will positively identify the victim and notify next of kin.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to call (562) 570-7355 or visit www.LACrimeStoppers,org.
LB Harbor Commission Hires Chief of Staff
LONG BEACH — In late October, the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners selected U.S. Marine Col. Richard Jordan as the new chief of staff, to assist the commission in making key decisions in governing the Port of Long Beach.
Jordan most recently served as director of enlisted professional military education at the Marine Corps University in Quantico, Va., overseeing about 280 Marines and civilians at six educational academies around the globe. Previously, he was the strategy and policy division chief for the Middle East for the U.S. Central Command, from June 2011 to June 2014. In that role, he interacted on a daily basis with civilian leadership from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
He was promoted to colonel in 2011, and has been responsible for as many as 400 Marines. He deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, 2005 and 2008. From 1993-1999 he served with a Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron. He joined the Marines in 1990, starting at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, where he studied to become a naval aviator and helicopter pilot.
The chief of staff coordinates all administrative and communications functions for the board, serves as a personal adviser on general issues, makes recommendations on public policy issues and coordinates trade missions and conferences, among other duties.
Jordan, who was born in Houston, graduated in 1990 from Sam Houston State University in Texas with a bachelor of science degree in Criminal Justice. In 2011, he earned a master of strategic studies degree from the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.
Jordan is scheduled to start at the port on Dec. 7.
Port Invests $383,000 in Community Organizations
LONG BEACH — On Oct. 30, The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners voted to award 77 sponsorships totaling $383,200 to local community organizations to help engage and inform residents about the Port of Long Beach’s mission.
In August, the Board of Harbor Commissioners adopted new guidelines for its community sponsorship program to bring greater transparency and accessibility to the program.
The new sponsorship guidelines establish two application periods per year. These awards came from submissions in September through Oct. 2. The port received 112 applications, including 16 first-time applicants, putting the Port on track to receive more sponsorship requests than any previous fiscal year. The next call will be in March 2016.
A list of sponsorship recipients can be found here.
Former LASD Sergeant Sentenced to 8 Years in Prison
LOS ANGELES – On Nov. 2, Eric Gonzalez, a former sergeant with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, who was found guilty this summer of federal civil rights offenses related to the beating of a handcuffed visitor to the Men’s Central Jail, was sentenced to 96 months in federal prison.
Gonzalez, 46, received the eight-year sentence. Gonzalez, who was a 12-year veteran of LASD at the time of the offense, was one of three former deputies who were found guilty in June of civil rights charges.
At the trial, a jury determined Gonzalez, along with former LASD Deputies Fernando Luviano and Sussie Ayala, violated the civil rights of the victim in 2011 when they beat the man and caused bodily injury. The jury also determined that all three defendants falsified records when they prepared reports claiming that the victim was not handcuffed during the incident. Gonzalez and Ayala were additionally convicted of conspiring to violate the victim’s civil rights by using unreasonable force.
Two other defendants who were named in a federal grand jury indictment in late 2013 – Pantamitr Zunggeemoge and Noel Womack – previously pleaded guilty.
Gonzalez was the leader of the conspiracy to violate the victim’s civil rights, according to a sentencing memo filed by prosecutors. “While [the victim] may have suffered the bruises and cuts, the negative impact of defendant Gonzalez’s actions does not end with [the victim], nor is [he] the only victim. The actions undertaken by the defendants in this case have impacted the public trust and thus extend beyond [the victim] and his family,” prosecutors wrote.
The evidence presented at trial showed that the victim and his girlfriend went to the jail to visit the woman’s incarcerated brother on February 26, 2011. Both visitors were in the possession of cell phones, which are prohibited under jail rules. When the phones were discovered, the victim was handcuffed and brought into an employee break room, where prosecutors said he was subject to a “savage beating” and sprayed with a burning agent similar to pepper spray. The victim was later transferred to the hospital by paramedics.
Following the incident, Gonzalez instructed Zunggeemoge how to write a report that falsely described how the victim swung his left elbow and struck Zunggeemoge, which prompted the use of force. Subsequent reports by other defendants also falsely described how the victim attempted to escape from the break room.
Ayala and Luviano are scheduled to be sentenced by Nov. 30. Ayala faces a face a statutory maximum sentence of 40 years in federal prison, and Luviano faces up to 30 years.
In October, a federal grand jury indicted a sixth deputy in relation to the incident at the Visiting Center. Former Deputy Byron Dredd pleaded not guilty on Oct. 30 to conspiracy to violate civil rights and two counts of making false reports. He was ordered to stand trial on Dec. 22.
The case against Gonzalez and the other deputies is the result of an investigation by the FBI, and is one in a series of cases resulting from an investigation into corruption and civil rights abuses at county jail facilities in downtown Los Angeles. As a result of the investigation, 15 current or former members of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department have now been convicted of federal charges.
St. Mary Medical Center Earns 7th Consecutive ‘A’
LONG BEACH – On Oct. 28, Dignity Health – St Mary Medical Center earned its seventh consecutive “A” in patient safety from The Leapfrog Group, a national independent nonprofit health industry watchdog. Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Score is considered the gold standard rating for patient safety and is compiled under the guidance of the nation’s leading patient safety experts.
“St. Mary’s ‘A’ grade is a powerful reminder of its commitment to putting patient safety above all else, and we are pleased to recognize the persistent efforts of its clinicians and staff to protect their patients,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group, which administers the Hospital Safety Score.
To see St. Mary’s full score visit www.hospitalsafetyscore.org.