The landscape for law enforcement is changing.
As La Habra Police Chief Jerry Price stood before the men and women he leads, along with dozens from the city, he painted a vivid picture of what law enforcement officers face in their jobs today.
A state law passed by voters in 2014, called Proposition 47, downgraded some crimes from felonies to misdemeanors and also did away with filing felony charges for offenders who habitually commit certain misdemeanor crimes.
The legislation, Price said, has posed a major challenge for public safety.
“It removed an officer’s authority to make felony arrests for targeted crimes, thus … making it more difficult to be effective in dealing with crimes that tend to lead to more serious and violent crime,” he said.
On top of that, Price said, Prop 47 prompted the release of more than 13,000 inmates in 2015.
“Prison over-crowding was no longer a problem for the state, however it was now the problem of counties and local law enforcement,” Price said, “We, as an organization, must evolve in developing crime fighting strategies when we see crime vary in methodology.
“Just as the laws change, sometimes in our favor and sometimes against us, we must deal with the outcome, regardless of the cause.”
La Habra PD has put a more concerted effort into community outreach and studying crime trends to stay proactive on the crime front. The department also will continue to find inventive ways to police the community and keep residents safe, Price said.
But of all the things that will continue to change, as the profession and the criminals it seeks to put behind bars morphs over time, there are some things that stay the same.
The core values that many officers hold seems to remain a constant — a passion to find and arrest criminals, keep the community safe, help others in need, and save a life without hesitation.
These are the kinds of things La Habra PD on Thursday, May 19, celebrated at its annual Police Awards and Commendations Ceremony at the La Habra Community Center.
This kind of service is what the community takes notice of, Price said during the ceremony, listing several incidences in which residents sent letters or called to thank the police department.
“Just one of the many ways we can judge the quality of service we provide to our residents and visitors on a daily basis is evidenced by the comments I receive from those we protect and serve,” he said.
Highlighted below are some of the accomplishments of the department in 2015 and early 2016 that warranted a resident’s thanks and the department’s recognition:
The Osornio Award: Officer Jason Sanchez
This award is given annually to the officer who arrests the most drunken drivers in honor of La Habra Officer Michael Anthony Osornio, who was killed by a drunken driver in 1994 while on duty.
Sanchez, one of the department’s school resource officers, arrested 35 intoxicated drivers in 2015.
Chief’s Citation: Sgt. Brian Miller, Det. Edward Torres, Det. David Diaz, Det. Shawn Miller, Det. Kim Razey, Officer Tim Shea, Reserve Officer Rob Sims, Sr. Code Compliance Inspector Urbanie Quintero and Code Compliance Inspector Cynthia Barajas.
The group was honored for their investigative work in March and May of 2015, which resulted in the shutdown of five illegal massage businesses in the city.
Chief’s Citation: Officer Muris Lucarevic
Lucarevic was honored for helping a homeless man reunite with his family in Boston. The officer not only made the arrangements, he donated two sets of clothing, a jacket and a new pair of shoes for the man before sending him on his flight.
Chief’s Citation: Sgt. Brian Miller, Cpl. Nick Baclit, Det. Edward Torres, Det. David Diaz, Det. Shawn Miller, Det. Noah Daniels, Det. Kim Razey and Reserve Officer Rob Sims.
The group conducted an extensive narcotics investigation and served search warrants at three locations that led to the confiscation of 11 assault rifles, 25 handguns and 12 illegal 30-round assault rifle magazines.
Investigators also seized about 40 pounds of marijuana and about $44,000. Three suspects were arrested on various felony narcotics-related charges and misdemeanor child endangerment.
20 Years of Service: Lt. Dan Henderson, Cpl. Victor Rubalcava and Reserve Officer Joshua Goldmark
25 Years of Service: Sgt. Jose Quirarte
30 Years of Service: Crime Analyst/Information Specialist Paul Hower
Citizen Citation: Rolando Rodriguez and Ashley Dubay
After a bicyclist abruptly fell from his bicycle into the street the night of Sept. 6, Rodriguez and Dubay, who were driving down the road, pulled over and stopped to help.
Their efforts activated the emergency response and helped police quickly respond to the emergency.
Lifesaving Medal: Sgt. David Crivelli, Cpl. Victor Rubalcava, Officer Travis Nelson and Officer Herb Johnson
Crivelli was first on scene after a bicyclist abruptly fell off his bike into the roadway at about 7 p.m. on Sept. 6.
He found the cyclist was not breathing and had no pulse. Crivelli started CPR until Rubalcava arrived with the Automatic External Defibrillator (AED).
After performing CPR for about four minutes, police deployed the AED device. They then continued CPR.
When Nelson and Johnson arrived, they aided in the lifesaving efforts and the man started breathing on his own.
Paramedics arrived and the man was taken to a local hospital, where he received further treatment.
Lifesaving Medal: Officer Kevin Love, Officer Justin Cassidy and Officer Justin Braasch
Officers were dispatched to a home in response to a call about a man possibly not breathing at about 5:50 a.m. on Dec. 21.
When they arrived, they started CPR compressions and set up the AED. The officers delivered one shock to the man, and then continued CPR.
Paramedics arrived and he was taken to the hospital for further treatment.