Saturday, July 28, 2007

Riding with San Bernardino's Operation Safe Streets! (Press Enterprise July 21, 2007).

BS Ranch Perspective

Operation Safe Streets is a great Idea that seems to be a great movement that is working for San Bernardino, I am glad that the mayor Morris has taken such an Interest in the Crime in San Bernardino, and the long Life and exsistence with the Airport, and his attempt to try new things with the Police Department, and also trying to get businesses such as DHL Delivery, UPS, and FEDex, to come in and use the San Bernardino International Airport as a Hub for their Business and Package Delivery to the Inland Empire and the Moreno Valley..Etc Etc...

Morris has been by far the most progressive mayor that San Bernardino has had in a long time.

BS Ranch

Riding with San Bernardino's Operation Safe Streets

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01:24 AM PDT on Saturday, July 21, 2007
The Press-Enterprise

Survey: Do you think the ATF's presence will cut down on gun crime?

SAN BERNARDINO - Typical city nights, with their steady stream of reports to take, don't often allow Ryan Wicks to slowly roll his patrol car behind one of the Eastside's most notorious apartment complexes in search of misdoing.

But this wasn't a normal night for the San Bernardino police officer.

As one of 10 chosen for the department's Operation Safe Streets launch, he has been freed from speeding from call to call whenever his radio crackles.

Story continues below
Paul Alvarez / The Press-Enterprise
San Bernardino police Officer Ryan Wicks searches a vehicle during a traffic stop as part of Operation Safe Streets, a project that adds extra patrols in at-risk neighborhoods.

"If anyone's hanging out in a parked car right now, when it's 105 degrees," said Wicks, as he crept down the back alley in the graffiti-lined Guthrie projects, "they've got to be doing something."

Wicks will be there thanks to the operation in which San Bernardino officers work with the California Highway Patrol and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agents to reduce crime in neighborhoods chosen by statistical mapping.

Those include the Guthries and Waterman Gardens on the eastside, a corridor of old motels on 5th and G streets downtown, and the Westside's California Gardens, Little Zion Manor and Delmann Heights.

"Being there just expands the knowledge of the local officers working with us, and expands the knowledge of our officers working with them," said the CHP's San Bernardino commander, Capt. James Szabo. "It really forms some great networks."

San Bernardino Police Chief Michael Billdt agreed. He also emphasized that Operation Safe Streets officers will have a freedom most on normal patrols don't.

"They're completely proactive," Billdt said. "They're free from taking report calls, and they're in the most at-risk areas."

Operation Safe Streets was launched in 1994, but was suspended for several years until 2006, when it was brought back as the city's homicide rate increased.

The program will run for at least the next 90 days, Billdt said, and will involve the participating federal agency's Violent Crime Impact Team that arrived earlier this month to reduce the proliferation of illegal firearms in town.

For example, if an Operation Safe Streets officer finds weapons, federal agents on the street can immediately respond and begin ballistic checks that could link them to crimes.

"We've just got to get out there and develop leads," Wicks said of working with federal agents. "The more we're out there, the more people we're going to talk to, the more information we're going to get, and the more that's going to lead to."

On this night, Wicks was focusing on the Guthries, where a homicide had occurred three days earlier.

It is something Wicks said he couldn't usually do on normal patrols. Frequently, he'll notice suspicious men on the street as he's racing by with sirens blazing.

"They know if they see two of us zoom by with our lights on, that we're not paying attention to them," Wicks said. "So the second we pass, someone's getting robbed."

On Wednesday, however, Wicks wouldn't be called to any emergencies. That allowed him to hone-in on an East Date Street apartment complex he had been to many, many times.

About a week earlier, Wicks was the first to respond to a homicide there, in which police say a man knocked on his brother's door and promptly shot him three times in the head in front of his family.

On Thursday, after the first night of Operation Safe Streets, police went to the same complex and arrested an 18-year-old gang member suspected of killing a man earlier this month by blindly firing into a crowd at a nearby party.

So the idling Honda, parked oddly far from the curb, caught Wicks' attention.

The shirtless driver, upon noticing Wicks' unmarked patrol car, seemed to make a sudden U-turn.

He wasn't wearing his seatbelt, providing the probable cause for a stop.

"The possibilities are endless," Wicks later said of what was going through his mind at the time. "He could be the getaway driver for a shooting, with his homies inside just over there. He's definitely in position for a quick getaway."

It turns out the driver, 21-year-old Cory Doucet, was simply taking a minute to cool off after leaving work at a nearby pizzeria.

He was driving his mother's car, and explained to Wicks that he was working on taking care of his suspended license.

Doucet wasn't on parole, had no warrants, and had no weapons or drugs in his car. Wicks gave him a fix-it ticket for the license and failing to wear a seat belt.

"I could have easily have taken the car for 30 days, but he was getting off work, and not to be preferential, but there's a lot of people who don't even do that," Wicks said. "I'd hate to impound his car, have him miss work, lose his job, not be able to pay for it and resort to a life of crime to get it back."

The traffic stop was the most excitement Wicks had all shift. But he was sure to note, as the first night of Operation Safe Streets forged on, that the summer is young.

Reach Paul LaRocco at 909-806-3064 or

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