Laguna Beach Cops Are Tops
Our LBPD rocks and they literally put out fires.
Today, Super Bowl Sunday, on my usual daily dawn Victoria Beach run, I observed the remnants of an open fire from the night before, between the public stairs and the Dumond Dr. ramp.
A middle-aged father, with his 5 year-old son, were stoking a new, adjacent bonfire and roasting marshmallos over it. I approached him and politely asked him to put it out and remove the remains of his other one from the night before.
He angrily refused, even though I pointed out that with little sand due to high tide and surf, visitors would have to walk through the coals. He maintained that he was on HIS property, above mean high tide. He also told me to buzz off and perform an obscene, physically impossible (for me anyway) act upon my lower extremities.
I implored him, said that it was not contained within concrete barriers, and there was no water hose bib within 50 feet if it got out of control. Embers could torch the neighborhood and in such dry conditions, with the offshore wind died down, who knows where it would stop?
I explained potential eco-system damage, no way to tell where that wood had been and contaminants it contained---this is one of Tex Haines (and my) pet peeves.
I ran home and after speaking with a 911 operator, I walked down and our finest (LBPD) were already there. Wow, now that’s quick concerted response! Not wanting to further agitate the father, I stayed over at the ramp, caught Corporal Jason Farris (I think Watch Commander in the SUV) on his way out while the other officer tried to educate the father.
The other officer, Corporal Paul Bixby apparently had parked his squad car at the top of the stair access and walked down. Our LBPD has pledged to follow up with our fire department, get more clarification about these open beach, non-contained bonfires.
Over a decade ago, I saw LB Police Employees’ Association President Larry Bammer get carried out on a stretcher after being shot in a daylight store robbery next to Laguna Beach BMW. I wrote my own column that was published in the Sunday Op-Ed section of the LA Times about our department’s (and especially his) exemplary bravery titled "It CAN happen here," meaning violent crime can happen in even sleepy little towns.
Meanwhile, here's the LA Times beat reporter's version: http://articles.latimes.com/2002/oct/24/local/me-ocshot24
Athough I thank Larry every time I see him, he remains the same modest guy to whom I dedicated that column. To me, this humility is typical of street enforcement officers, the ones that get so much flak by some pariahs during LB City Council meetings.
So highest kudos to our department and the man at the helm, Chief Paul Workman. He sets the bar, sets the policy for public interface. And to me, it’s more apparent than ever why Corporal Farris and Capt. Jason Kravetz have been on point for community relations---Chief has the right personnel in the right place.
For those who don’t know it, these beach zones are in a grey area: Above mean high tide, technically it’s this man’s property, but his rights are not inviolate, this doesn’t 100% shelter owners, allow blanket irresponsibility. Public nuisance laws say that you can’t use or alter it to the diminishment of your neighbors.
Maybe we need to refine our beach ordinances to only allow such fires in concrete-lined bunkers within fenced off property, and that a working fire dousing, pressurized water device must be within 25 feet.
We should daily remind ourselves that our police, our firemen and our lifeguards serve and protect us under a wide gamut of high pressure situations, many dangerous and life-threatening not to just the public but to themselves. Many are risky and require quick, flexible choice decisions; some are quite confrontational as we’re constantly reminded.
Although not a mass murder in progress, not the crime of the century, I was quite pleased today to see that my City takes all citizen reports seriously and responds without peer.
Capt. Kravetz once said that his personal motto is "Proudly Serving Our Community." Well, to both of you Jasons, today I'm proud to have you two plus your brother and sister officers on our force: Right back at you!