City, Sheriff Share Crime-Stopper Tactics

Photo by Mirjam Swanson / OUTLOOK
Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Blasnek encourages residents to be observant and to call the local sheriff’s station whenever they spot something that looks suspicious.

City officials and local law enforcement personnel hear you, La Cañada Flintridge, and they’re on the case. That was the message at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, much of which was dedicated to sharing various tactics being used to combat a recent uptick in crime.
Echoing the concerns of many in the community, Amy Bernhard told council members that after living in LCF for 17 years, recent crimes — including a pair of home invasions in December — have made her feel unsafe in the city for the first time. She said she found herself setting the alarm during the day when she was home.
“We’re very much aware,” City Manager Mark Alexander said. “This is a very important issue and we are very concerned and we’re trying to be responsive and provide information so the community understands we do want to tackle this problem and defeat this problem.”
“My job here is to keep you safe,” Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Blasnek added. “La Cañada Flintridge is a beautiful community and we’ve seen that the times have changed but our values have not changed at all. My job is to make sure there’s stepped-up enforcement and we’re with you in partnership.”
Blasnek told the audience that there have been three burglary-related arrests in LCF this year already and offered details about arrests of four suspects on similar charges in Temple City last week.
He said his station has increased patrols, hoping to saturate the city and deter would-be burglars.
And he encouraged the public to continue to report suspicious activity, citing an uptick in calls related to footage captured via video security monitoring systems such as Ring.
A popular subsidy program set up by the city recently resulted in 250 LCF homeowners purchasing the Ring device at half-price. The company is scheduled to offer a short community presentation at the Community Center of LCF at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Feb. 21.
Councilman Greg Brown suggested that residents program the Crescenta Valley Station’s direct line — (818) 248-3464 — into their phones so they can call quickly in the event they observe something out of the ordinary.
Blasnek also encouraged La Cañadans to explore setting up a Neighborhood Watch program on their blocks, saying those community networks help residents better track what’s happening around their homes. He said there’s been increased interest in the program this year, with a total of 35 groups now operating in LCF.
East Patrol Division Chief Eric Parra also was on hand, sharing that he happened to be in LCF last week when the sheriff’s department received a call about a burglary. He headed to the scene, he said, and found Blasnek and other ranking station personnel already were there.
“That doesn’t happen in any other city that I’ve been to,” Parra said. “This is a great city, but the issue with the city is that you’re freeway friendly. But we’re addressing that and we’re going to be vigorous in our defense of the city because we want to partner with you.”
Alexander said the city might discuss whether to install cameras at the entrances to LCF and Blasnek offered evidence of his station’s stepped-up approach in the number of traffic stops that have been made recently.
In January, he said, sheriff’s personnel on patrol issued 238 warnings, 125 citations and conducted 86 field interviews. By comparison, in November, they issued 86 warnings, 54 citations and didn’t do any field interviews.
“We’re going to get lucky on a traffic stop,” said Blasnek, suggesting that while the Ring home security system video footage helps, “most good police work is done off of traffic stops.”
Sheriff’s patrol officers have been instructed to stop vehicles that don’t have license plates, which is a violation of state law and sometimes a sign of criminals trying to travel undetected. Blasnek said he’s been in contact with his counterparts at the California Highway Patrol and they, too, have enacted a “zero-tolerance” policy for cars on the road without license plates.
Meanwhile, a second license plate reader was scheduled to go into commission in LCF on Wednesday, Blasnek said. The second license plate recognition device is being funded by the city of LCF, which also budgeted for a sheriff’s community services assistant that’s scheduled to begin soon, Alexander said.
“We have a Ford SUV ready to go, hot off the assembly line,” Blasnek said. “It’s already got the ALPRs [license plate reader] and it was getting a radar unit put on the dash and it’ll be up and running and out in the city tomorrow. So if you see a car without nicks and scratches, that’s it.”
Furthermore, Blasnek said a member of the Crescenta Valley station has recently finished training in fingerprint and DNA technology as part of her education for the role of law enforcement technician.
“So if somebody does have a crime, she can come out immediately and we won’t have to wait a day or two after the deputy’s clear the location; she’ll be right there to start the process,” Blasnek said.
“I’m even getting outside of the box on this one,” he added. “For years and years, we do our [staff] briefings in the briefing room at the station. But now we’re going to do our briefings out in the field. We’ve got cars loaded and gassed up, why not pick different places throughout the city? It might be a church parking lot or the Ralph’s parking lot, but why not do it so you’re centrally located and you can quickly respond?”
The public can learn more about all the ideas discussed Tuesday at a Town Hall-style forum scheduled for 5 p.m. on Monday, March 5, at Lanterman Auditorium, Alexander said.

Leave a Reply