MEETING Shirley Lashmett opened. Dave Schapiro thanked God for our meeting. He prayed for God’s presence to bring us peace, His guidance in helping us properly serve our community, and His blessing on our military and first responders in keeping us safe. Craig Boardman led the pledge.
ANNOUNCEMENTS Gary TeWinkle welcomed his guest, Steve Baker. Dr. Bob Wood said Steve Babyak won this week’s football book for the second time. Mike Gertner announced George Lesley and Mitch Mitchell chose the most winners for the football pool. George picked closest to the tiebreaker and won $26 for first place, Mitch won $5 for second. Leo Fracalosy finished last with six correct. Chuck Seven encouraged us to join him in selling leftover flags from last year’s Field of Honor. Ken DuFour is responsible for flag inventory. Chuck already bought flags as Christmas gifts and is selling them to his bridge club members and others. Leo has committed to selling thirty flags at his businesses. Chuck requested a finance committee person and Cynthia Strasmann stepped up. She also offered to host a Christmas flag wrapping get together with wine.
PROGRAM Cynthia introduced Sergeant Brian Gunsolley from the Orange County (OC) Sheriff’s Department to discuss crime prevention and more. Being informed of crime in your area is critical to avoid being victimized. OC Sheriff has useful tools at OCGov.com, including “Crimemapping” and a blotter with the location and description of crime reports. Safety can also be assessed by being alert for unsafe indicators. A pervasiveness of trash and unkempt properties are a sign residents have little investment in the area. Bars on doors and windows signify an unsafe area.The presence of gangs is an
obvious threat. OCturf (e.g., Latino) and ideology (e.g., white supremacist) gangs paint graffiti on
walls to mark their territories.
Rival gangs sometimes cross out these symbols signifying a turf war. Gang members hang out at entry and exit points of an area to control the streets and sell drugs. They use hand signals and other methods to relay information to each other including whether police are spotted. There are ways to spot criminals. Parolees like pit bulls as pets. High-ranking gang members have tattoos with “13” or “X3” to show allegiance to the Mexican mafia. Grafitti also displays these symbols meaning an area gang is committed to this mafia. “Made” gang members can have tattoos of a black hand. It’s difficult for law enforcement to keep up with all of the gang symbols.
OC Sheriff has a homeless outreach team that works closely with healthcare agencies. Some people are homeless because they cannot afford housing, and many have mental health problems. Sheriff deputies frequently interact with the homeless to document their identities, understand their issues, offer them services, and to track how long they have been homeless in areas. OC Sheriff’s efforts have helped control homelessness.
Brian mentioned a rising problem with squatters (i.e., people who occupy a property without ownership or lease rights). Once they occupy a property for a while, it is not simple to remove them. A civil process, eviction, must be pursued to do so. It can be particular-ly difficult for foreclosed homes as bank management often has little interest in squat-ters until it wants to sell the property. Likewise, if you host a family member of friend at your home for more than thirty days, and the guest pays for a bill or meal, a formal evic-tion might be required to remove them.
Brian said there is an uptick of burglary tourism, where residents of another country visit to burglarize homes. South American theft rings are common. They sell their loot before returning to their countries or take it there with them. The rings surveil residents at their homes to establish a pattern of coming and going and strike when they know the res-idents should be gone. They are experienced criminals and travel with heavy duty tools.
Brian described three characteristics of a victim: (1) vulnerability (physical or emo-tional); (2) accessibility; and (3) desirability (financial or physical). An example of a physically vulnerable person is a child or woman walking alone, especially if distracted by a phone or otherwise; an emotionally vulnerable person, someone whose loved one recently died. A criminal has accessibility when the victim allows him to get close. De-sirability is in the criminal’s eyes, perhaps if he perceives the victim has money or attrac-tive physical characteristics. Brian suggested steps to reduce vulnerability, accessibility, and desirability.
Brian concluded with a brief discussion of “active shooters,” defined as the killing of more than four persons. Perpetrators can at-tack with deadly weapons other than guns like knives, scissors, or vehicles, and there-fore the term is changing to “active assail-ant.” A Department of Justice study revealed most mass shootings occur at workplaces, followed by retail outlets, restaurants, out-doors, K-12 schools, places of worship, colleges, and government facilities. If confront-ed by an assailant and distant enough from him, the best option is to run and remove yourself from the location. If there is insuffi-cient time to escape, the next best choice is to hide, perhaps in a closet. If you have no time to flee, your only option is to fight. If many potential victims challenge him, it might be possible to overwhelm the assailant.
Shirley selected two, $25 raffle win-ners, Gail Demmer and Chuck. She con-cluded with her thought of the day. “Every box of raisins is a tragic tale of grapes that could have been wine.”