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California budget delays affect vehicle registration rules

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 07/06/2011 @ 04:56 PM

Many people around the state have been concerned because their vehicle registration tags expire in July and they haven’t received their registration renewal notices from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

If you’re one of those motorists, you don’t have to worry.

Renewal notices were not sent to California drivers with a vehicle registration expiration date of July 1 or later because lawmakers had not yet reached an agreement on how much the fees would be after the June 30 conclusion of the fiscal year. Under normal circumstances, the DMV mails out registration renewal notices 60 days ahead of the expiration date.

Because of the uncertainty surrounding the renewal fees, the DMV announced that registration notices would be mailed on or close to the expiration date for those with registration tags expiring in July. Money will not be collected until registration notices are issued. For these drivers, penalties for delinquent payment will not be imposed until 30 days after the registration expiration date.

In addition, many law enforcement agencies have been instructed to refrain from citing these drivers until the first day of the second month after the vehicle registration expires.

Fees are still due as usual for tags that expired before July 1, and officers will still issue citations for those with long-expired tags or other registration violations, including not having tags properly displayed.

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What’s going on here? L.A. crime declines, but assaults on police are rising

By on 07/01/2011 @ 05:41 PM

(credit: CBS)

In a disturbing disconnect, violent crime in Los Angeles is down 10.3 percent and property crime has declined by 7.9 percent, but it’s becoming more dangerous to be a police officer in this city.

Chief Beck reported this week that assaults on police officers are up by 42 percent over the same period last year, bringing the 2011 total to 97 attacks. This echoes a national trend, as reported by Daily News police reporter C.J. Lin.

Lin reports that “Among the attacks was the shooting of Officer Steve Jenkins, a K-9 handler who survived being shot in the jaw and shoulder on April 4 by a domestic violence suspect in Sylmar, sending police into a daylong standoff before the suspect was killed. Jenkins was released from the hospital after three weeks of surgery and recovery.”

KNX veteran reporter Pete Demetriou took to the streets to find out what cops think is driving the surge in assaults. He reported that “Officers David Stovill and Jared Vann, both serving in the Southwest division, said that the bad economy plays a role, increasing people’s desperation, and that they’re seeing more ex-convicts and non-revocable parolees out on the streets.”

Demetriou writes, “Officer Art Gallegos, a 10-year veteran, says those who lash out at law enforcement are often mentally ill, are drug users or have served prison time.” Demetriou adds, “As a result of the increased aggression, Gallegos says, there is more talk among law enforcement about tactics, officer safety and warning against complacency.”

We are nearing the release of a large number of inmates from state prison, and will be seeing fewer incarcerations for parolees who commit new crimes. Undoubtedly, this will result in more interactions between this population and law enforcement, which doesn’t bode well for officers in light of this year’s troubling trend of violence.

The comments from these LAPD officers should serve as a timely reminder. Take it to heart. Crime numbers may be down, but policing remains a dangerous profession.

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Officers Michael Kim and Jimmy Lam: Decisive action saves woman from burning car

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 06/29/2011 @ 04:50 PM

LAPD officers are trained to expect the unexpected. A dramatic case in point: Hollywood Area Officers Michael Kim and Jimmy Lam were working traffic control after a Monday morning hit-and-run traffic collision near Santa Monica Boulevard and Western Avenue.

Prison inmates

The officers noticed a Dodge Caravan unrelated to the traffic collision stopped at a nearby traffic light; heavy black smoke was coming from beneath the vehicle. After calling the Los Angeles Fire Department, the officers attempted to free the occupant from the van. However, she was unaware of the danger and did not understand what the officers wanted her to do.

But as thick smoke filled the van, the driver finally realized she needed to unlock the doors. Then the understandably frenzied occupant could not free herself from her seatbelt. Officer Kim used his pocketknife to cut her loose; and as toxic smoke and flames engulfed the vehicle, the officers used fire extinguishers from their police car to fight the fire until the fire department arrived.

We join the LAPD in commending Officer Michael Kim and Officer Jimmy Lam for their decisive action and heroism in rescuing the occupant unharmed and containing a dangerous situation.

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Add massive prisoner release to California voters’ list of worries

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 06/23/2011 @ 04:05 PM

The consequences of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s release of dangerous inmates are an ongoing problem we’ve chronicled for some time now. It’s only common sense to expect trouble from the early and unsupervised release of improperly screened felons.

And with last month’s U.S. Supreme Court decision ordering California to release more than 30,000 inmates, voters are rightfully worried. A recent Field Poll showed that 79 percent of these voters believe the high court's order to release that many criminals from the state prison system over the next two years presents a serious problem.

L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca expressed concerns over the ruling’s impact on our communities, since nearly a third of the state’s prison population comes from this county. Compliance with the order means L.A. County could see more than 11,000 felons on its streets – more than any other county.

“Make no mistake about it, the sheriffs and local police are going to be very, very busy trying to figure out a way to manage this population," said Baca recently. State leaders, still wrangling over the budget, shouldn’t drop inmate housing and parolee monitoring responsibilities on local governments without giving them adequate funding.

We repeat our call for the early involvement of local law enforcement and prosecutors statewide in the drafting of inmate-release criteria. There’s no doubt the LAPD, local prosecutors and every law enforcement agency across the state will soon be dealing with these inmates.

Given CDCR’s messy handling of various ill conceived early release programs over the last few years, law enforcement agencies would rather have input in release decisions instead of simply responding to the ensuing crimes.

Devising better release criteria is the least we can do for Californians.

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Hybrid Clean Air Vehicle Decal program ends July 1, 2011

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 06/21/2011 @ 04:40 PM

If you’ve been driving a hybrid vehicle and are lucky enough to have a yellow decal that gives you the privilege of driving in carpool lanes without the required number of occupants, your days are numbered.

Yellow clean air vehicle stickers are valid only until July 1, 2011.

Yellow clean air vehicle stickers are valid only until July 1, 2011.

The yellow “Access OK” stickers will no longer allow use of diamond lanes to the over 85,000 people who have them. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles and a notice on the California Air Resources website, the program will expire July 1st. Drivers of vehicles with a white clean air sticker will still be able to use the high occupancy vehicle lanes, irrespective of the number of occupants until January 1, 2015.

Anyone driving solo in the carpool lane (without a white clean air sticker) after July 1st risks getting a hefty ticket if they are not operating their vehicle with the required number of passengers.

The program was created by the 2004 passage of a state law. The number of stickers was capped at 85,000. At the time, just 85,000 hybrids were being sold annually nationwide. By 2007, the stickers were gone. The driving privilege was supposed to end a year later. Then it was extended.

Solo commuters will still have the ability to drive on the Interstate 15 express lanes in northern San Diego County and the Highway 91 express lanes in eastern Orange County by paying a toll.

The news is not all bad. As a result of more recent legislation, the DMV will soon issue a new generation of clean-air stickers in 2012 for plug-in hybrids and other vehicles currently under development. When the stickers are issued, they will allow 40,000 advanced technology vehicles, which meet even stricter California emission standards, to use carpool lanes.

In the meantime, if you are the owner of hybrid clean air vehicle displaying the yellow Clean Air Vehicle sticker, please heed the warning and do not drive your car in the high occupancy vehicle lane unless the minimum passenger requirements are met.

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What was this judge thinking?

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 06/13/2011 @ 01:36 PM

LAPD Detective Thomas Townsend summed up his frustration and outrage with two questions:

Mike Yepremyan

Mike Yepremyan

"How do you allow a murder suspect out on a no-bail warrant, how do you not honor that?” he asked L.A. Times reporter Robert Faturechi in a story published last week. “Where's the justice there?"

For 18 months Detective Townsend had been investigating the shooting death of 19-year-old Mike Yepremyan outside a North Hollywood department store. The November 2009 killing drew national attention after the L.A. Times published a riveting story, also by Faturechi, of the events leading to the teenager’s death.

After an exhaustive investigation and manhunt, police tracked the prime suspect in the case to an apartment near Puerto Rico’s capital city. They arrested Zareh Manjikian, 23, as he drove to a neighboring beach town. But then, in a shocking and inexplicable turn of events, a judge in Puerto Rico ignored a request by authorities in Los Angeles that Manjikian be held without bail, releasing the murder suspect on a $50,000 bond. He’s been on the run ever since.

Last week, Councilman Paul Krekorian, whose district includes the North Hollywood parking lot where Yepremyan was killed, wisely introduced a resolution calling for a federal investigation. He said the decision by Judge Gloria Maynard to release Manjikian was “so disgusting, so absolutely bizarre and inexplicable that I think it has to be investigated.”

We agree – there can be no valid reason for the judge to release a murder suspect who is a known flight risk. We trust the City Council will vote without delay to get this matter escalated to the federal level for a thorough investigation of the judge’s decision.

The family of Mike Yepremyan and the detectives who have worked tirelessly on this case deserve answers for the judge’s bizarre decision even as the search for Zareh Manjikian continues.

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California corrections mess: The ‘gift’ that keeps on giving

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 06/07/2011 @ 03:36 PM

It seems like a triple witching hour for public safety in California. Instead of fixing the serious problems at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), the state is giving up and dumping the parole supervision crisis on local governments.

This began with the release of supposedly nonviolent prisoners to relieve overcrowding in state prisons. But the state’s cost-saving measure has already proven too expensive for Californians who are losing their lives and livelihoods.

In recent years, lax parole supervision paved the way for parolees to commit heinous crimes without immediate detection. Phillip Garrido, a registered sex offender, raped and kidnapped 11-year-old Jaycee Dugard in 1991 and held her captive for 18 years. John Albert Gardner, another registered sex offender, kidnapped, raped and murdered Chelsea King and Amber Dubois. Charles Samuel murdered 17-year-old Lily Burk in 2009. And last year, 34-year-old Chere Osmanhodzic and five-year-old Aaron Shannon Jr. were murdered by parolees who were not being properly supervised.

Now, the state budget being hammered out in Sacramento will shift the responsibility of housing inmates and monitoring parolees to local governments.

Already, Los Angeles County cities are bracing for an influx of over 11,000 parolees, with the majority likely to land in Los Angeles. And high recidivism rates for California parolees don’t bode well for the city’s residents. 2009 CDCR figures show that 40 percent of felons paroled under California supervision in 2006 were sent back to prison within a year for committing the same offense that led to their initial incarceration. By the two-year mark, this number rose to 52 percent.

Making matters worse is that this comes as we also contend with non-revocable parole, the ill-conceived program that frees parolees of the usual requirement to report to parole agents once they’re back on the streets. Unlike regular parolees, these offenders won’t be sent back to prison for parole violations, which means they’ll have free rein to behave and move about as they please until they commit their next crime.

We’ve been warning against this dangerous trend and calling attention to the consequences for a long time. But as long as the state continues to shirk its responsibilities and neglect the well-documented mess at CDCR, we’ll do our best to keep it in the public’s mind.

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Release of 450 inmates with “a high risk for violence” is inexcusable; new approach is needed

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 05/26/2011 @ 04:01 PM

We have long warned that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) troubling non-revocable parole program for “low risk offenders” would be a disaster. Law enforcement’s input was arrogantly ignored by CDCR, and tragically, we were proven right.

An Inspector General’s report confirmed the existence of fundamental flaws in the program. One startling flaw was in the CDCR’s vaunted computer system. A factor for release eligibility was the inmate’s record behind bars to determine their risk of reoffending once released, but the computer system did not access the prison disciplinary records of the inmates. Another flaw was that although inmates convicted of sex or violent crimes were to be excluded, the database used by CDCR was missing conviction information for nearly half of the state's 16.4 million arrest records.

Flaws in this system resulted in a potentially deadly experience for two LAPD officers. In July 2010, non-revocable parolee Javier Joseph Rueda tried to murder these officers by shooting at them, but they returned fire and killed him.

Now, as we stand on the precipice of a massive flood of inmates released in Los Angeles County and throughout California, CDCR is sure to say they will screen to release only the least violent inmates. They will undoubtedly proclaim that development of a release policy should be left to their “expertise.” But we heard the same false assurances about their “expertise” before and during the fiasco that was the “non-revocable parole” program.

The U.S. Supreme Court order leaves little choice but to release numerous inmates. The question now is: how can we ensure that only the “lowest risk” inmates get released? We believe the answer is to set up a commission of local law enforcement leaders, such as police chiefs, sheriffs and district attorneys from across the state, who would be tasked with crafting new release policies.

The last two years have proven that deciding who to release, and the criteria and systems to be employed, is not something CDCR can handle alone.

Related LAPPL blog postings:

  1. Yet again, tragic and predictable consequences of a broken parole system 01/14/2011
  2. The state’s paroling policies continue to reward criminals and endanger citizens 11/20/2010
  3. Killings of a Riverside police officer and a five-year-old boy raise more questions about the adequacy of parole supervision 11/10/2010

Related LAPPL press releases:

  1. Wanted parolee in Valley killing highlights parole system failures Omar Armando Loera is one of over 13,000 parolees unaccounted for (9/15/2010)
  2. Failed state parole early-release program nearly costs LAPD officers their lives (7/14/10)
  3. Governor "commutes" sentences of 6,000 inmates (1/21/10)
  4. State to release thousands of felons; Prison gates open January 25 (1/15/10)
  5. Los Angeles police officers denounce inmate early releases as dangerous and counterproductive (7/9/09)
  6. LAPPL Statement on Proposed Massive Prisoner Release (5/23/09)
  7. Los Angeles Police Officers call on Governor to Stop Dangerous New Parole Program (5/5/09)

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