Pasadena Police Department partner up for a safe New Year's celebration

By Cindy Arora

It’s the final huddle before the big game.

Meetings are held, maps are shared, and thousands of ‘No Parking’ signs will soon be posted strategically throughout the city of Pasadena.

After months of planning, emails, phone calls and creating excel spread sheets, the Pasadena Police Department is prepped and ready for the blitz of people who will soon make their way into the city streets.

But they couldn’t do any of it without the teams of law enforcement officers who all band together to make America’s New Year’s Parade – a safe one.

Members of the Pasadena Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol, Homeland Security and Counter Terrorism, Pasadena Fire Department, and Supervisors gather for a security meeting for the 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl game, at the Altadena Country Club, Wednesday, December 19, 2018. Photo by James Carbone.

The Partnerships

It’s a late morning at the Altadena Country Club, and hundreds of state and federal supervisors have made the trip to meet with the Pasadena Police Department to go over the final logistics for New Year’s Day.

Everyone’s here.

Homeland Security, the California Highway Patrol, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s, representatives from Pasadena’s TART team and the Tournament of Roses.
Break out groups have been created and leaders from all of the different law enforcement teams have taken a shift: New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, the Rose Bowl game and Post Parade duties.

It’s in these meetings law enforcement supervisors can openly talk about the worst case scenarios that could happen and how they should respond. This can mean knowing who to call for backup, having the phone number of your New Year’s Day partner’s and knowing the signals from plainclothes law enforcement officers who have seen something suspicious while out on the field.

“This is where it gets real for us,” Police Chief John Perez said to the crowd of about 200 state and federal law enforcement officials at the meeting. “We can’t do this without everyone in the room. We are all partners in this together. At this point, it’s all about problem solving. Know your task. You don’t want to be confused if you are out there and see something.”

After the meeting the officers break into groups a “night-time pre parade” group and a “day-side parade” group for specifics Photo by James Carbone.

Friends through the Years

For many of the law enforcement officials at the final planning event, being a part of the Rose Parade/Rose Bowl game is an exciting day to cover as a police officer, despite the enormity of the job.

Chief John Benedict, Special Operations Division from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has been a part of the Rose Parade/Rose Bowl duty for the last 38 years. He has seen the security detail change through the years, intensify and ramp up after 9/11.

As of 2018, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department brings in about 1,000 deputies who work in coordination with Pasadena PD and federal agencies. They staff the parade with deputies who are trained in a dozen different expertise, including – traffic, managing crowds, roof top security and those trained in Intel.

“The partnerships that we have with local municipalities, the California Highway Patrol, federal agencies – it’s amazing,” Chief Benedict said. “There is so much expertise with everyone here. We all respect each other and everything they bring to the table. It’s such a well-planned and well-coordinated event that everything goes off without a hitch.”

The California Highway Patrol brings in more than 100 officers into Pasadena for the Rose Parade/Rose Bowl. Officers escort a large array of patrons into and out of the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl, they secure the Rose Bowl with deputies trained in long rifles and they bring in their K9 dogs and handlers to sweep for explosives.

Assistant Chief Mark Garrett of the California Highway Patrol says one of the greatest things about being a part of the Rose Parade/Rose Bowl experience is watching the team grow each year.

“Each year we all learn something new from each other. If you listen carefully enough to anyone you meet on this team … you will learn a lot,” said Garrett. “We’ve learned through the years that the best way to get things done is to rely on each other’s expertise. If we follow that … everything goes smoothly. And that’s our main mission, to ensure the safety of the public.”

Newly-named Pasadena Police Chief John Perez, a thirty-three year veteran of the city of Pasadena Police Department attends the security meeting. Photo by James Carbone.