LANCASTER — Community members got a chance to meet and get to know their local deputies Thursday morning at the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station’s Coffee with a Cop event at Crazy Otto’s Diner.
The monthly event is a way for residents to connect with deputies, learn about the department’s work in Lancaster neighborhoods, and ask questions in a stress-free environment.
With hot cups of coffee and platefuls of breakfast on hand, deputies introduced themselves to the people who turned out for the event.
“You live in a very unique community where the majority of the deputies that work here live here,” Lancaster Sheriff’s Lt. Joseph Fender.
Fender, a graduate of Quartz Hill High School, has worked in different stations throughout Los Angeles County throughout his 19-year career. He said most of the deputies who work in the other stations do not live in the communities they serve.
“The overwhelming majority of deputies at (Lancaster and Palmdale) stations live here,” Fender said. “So take advantage of that because these deputies here are not just the ones that protect you and keep you safe enforcing laws; they’re your neighbors. They’re the ones you see at the mall, they’re the ones you run into at the movie theaters, and they really do appreciate your support.”
Second-grader Elias Marley, seven, turned out for the event with his mother Jamie Marley and siblings. He wore a sheriff’s six-point star on his shirt and a scanner on his belt.
“We came out here to support our law enforcement and also so he could meet a few deputies,” Marley said.
Elias agreed. He said he was excited to meet the deputies.
“I couldn’t sleep last night that’s how excited I was,” Elias said.
Deputy Yeni Deciga, who handles community relations for the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station, provided an update on some of the new laws that went into effect this year. For example, persons younger than 18 years old who are found not wearing a helmet on a bicycle, scooter, skateboard, or skates will receive a “fix-it” ticket.
A citation is considered non-punitive and correctable if the minor has completed a bicycle safety course and has a helmet that meets safety standards that is presented within 120 days to the issuing law enforcement agency, Deciga said.
Bicycle helmets are no longer required for riders of motorized scooters who are 18 years or older. Motorized scooters may operate with a Class IV bikeway as well as a Class II bikeway and on highways with speed limits up to 25 miles per hour. Local jurisdictions may pass ordinances to allow motorized scooters on highways with speed limits up to 35 miles per hour. It is still illegal to operate a motorized scooter on a sidewalk.
“I don’t know about you, but if I’m riding the scooter … I’m going to be wearing a helmet,” Deciga said.
Another new law that Deciga highlighted has to do with motorists with multiple DUIs and first-time offenders involved in injury crashes. Those motorists will be required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles. The amount of time the device will remain in the vehicle depends on the numbers of DUIs and whether a first DUI results in an injury.
Deciga also highlighted changes in the law regarding criminal court cases. For example, an accomplice to a killing can no longer be charged with a felony murder. Children younger than 16 years old will no longer be tried in adult courts. The minimum age at which children can be tried in court for a crime is 12 years old. Court would remain an option for children charged with violent crimes such as murder or rape.
The Patient’s Right to Know Act, which doesn’t go into effect until July 1, will mandate that physicians who are disciplined by their regulatory board for sexual misconduct with patients, drug abuse that can harm a patient, criminal conviction involving harm to patients, and inappropriate prescribing resulting in patient harm and have been given probation must notify patients prior to their visit.
The monthly Coffee with a Cop events are important because it gives deputies a chance to interact one-on-one with the community in a comfortable setting, Deciga said.
“Just conversation, answering their concerns and just simple questions,” Deciga said.
Lancaster Sheriff’s Station spokeswoman Ali Villalobos shared information about the new ShakeAlertLA app developed by the city of Los Angeles in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, AT&T, and the Annenberg Foundation to alert residents of seismic activity. The app sends alerts to users within Los Angeles County that an earthquake of greater than magnitude 5.0 or level IV intensity has been detected and that they may soon feel shaking. The app is available for Android and Apple devices and available in both English and Spanish.
The Sheriff’s Department does not endorse or promote any apps, but Villalobos said they wanted to share information with the public about the ShakeAlertLA app.
“It can give you anywhere from two seconds to 10 seconds; the maximum time that it will give you is about 56 seconds,” Villalobos said.
The closer you are to the epicenter, the less time you will have, and the further away you are from the epicenter, the more time you will have as a warning.
“It does promote it for when you’re on the road where eight seconds or maybe three seconds gives you enough time to maybe not go into a tunnel, or maybe pull your car over,” Villalobos said.
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