There aren’t many things you can count on locally but I can think of at least 2 things you can count on every week. Camp Coonerty still polluting San Lorenzo Park and the Weekly Dump keeping Santa Cruz “vibrantly honest” every Friday. This week, ICE sweeps through Watsonville, Mr. Mills’ neighborhoods, another Santa Cruz Probation success story, bring in the dog, possible Machete sighting in Watsonville, knife pulled at local church, and it would be ok on any other day, mint condition for a fight, Cowells Beach bathroom drama, weekly overdose at Camp Coonerty, wrong way car chase down Ocean, Aptos drunk crashes on Fair, Nevada couple arrested for local burglary, free showers for the homeless in Aptos, West Cliff protest march, and more!
ICE Arrests Watsonville Man
Tuesday morning around 4AM, a Watsonville man was arrested and detained by ICE on Calabasas Road near Watsonville. The 30 year old male was detained and taken to a federal hold in San Francisco on suspicion of living in the U.S. illegally. The detained man has lived in the U.S. for about 12 years, although he may have previously been deported in 2005. The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office was not involved but was notified around 3:45AM on Tuesday that ICE would be working in the unincorporated county. So ICE gave the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s department 15 minutes notice they’d be here. Nice! That’s what I call keeping local law enforcement in the dark. Maybe there’s less chance they’ll muck up the arrest, or tip someone off. Really, we have nobody to blame for our obliviousness here but ourselves. We can never seem to get out of our own way when it comes to law enforcement locally.
ICE would not release information about the case, but they did confirm there was only one ICE case Tuesday in Santa Cruz County. News of the man’s arrest triggered immediate fear mongering by local progressive activists about the possibility that ICE was near Amesti Elementary School. Watsonville City Councilman Felipe Hernandez searched that area but found no signs of ICE agents or vehicles.
I’d hardly call ONE SINGLE arrest a “sweep” by ICE. But that won’t stop some local progressives from spreading unfounded fear through a vulnerable section of the local community, all to further a particular political agenda. ICE had plenty of opportunity to “sweep” up more than one person if that’s really what they wanted to do here. The fact that ICE showed up, unannounced, and had the community in the dark (literally and figuratively) is on people like the city manager, the city council, and the Board of Supervisors. This is what you get for declaring yourselves a “Sanctuary” to pander for votes based on fear.
Mr. Mills’ Neighborhoods
“Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor?”
Starting March 1st, the Santa Cruz Police Department will begin a new neighborhood policing structure with five areas (“neighborhoods”) led by lieutenants and officers who will specialize in crime by that area, according to Police Chief Andy Mills. In this new re-structured organization of SCPD, the five areas were designated based on crime data, community understandings of crime and strategies by police officers.
The 5 new areas are:
- Upper Westside
- Lower Westside
- Upper Eastside
- Lower Eastside
How boring and unoriginal. I hope the city didn’t hire a special consultant to come up with those names. Each policing district lieutenant will take on the position of neighborhood safety manager, which is a job similar to that of the police chief of the neighborhood, Mills said. Patrol officers, detectives, a school-resource officer and a gang officer will not be reassigned. There are 94 sworn-officer positions at the police department; about 40 are patrol officers. Overall, 13 police officers, five community-service officers, five lieutenants and three sergeants were reassigned. The restructuring will not be an increased expense. Mills has been working on the new policing model since his first day as chief July 31, 2017.
So Mills just finished 6 months on the job and what do we have to show for his overarching knowledge of reform needed for Santa Cruz? We have a dubious internal re-structuring of the department and we have Camp Coonerty and it’s illegal occupation of a public park, while the Chief looks the other way and does nothing about it. Let’s hope the 2nd six months is more impressive than the first 6 months here!
Another Santa Cruz County Probation Success Story
Last Thursday around 5PM, investigators with the Santa Cruz County Special Investigations Unit searched a motel room in the 500 block of Riverside Avenue and seized several guns and a credit card making machine from a 26 year old male who had two active warrants for his arrest and was on active probation (ACTIVE PROBATION!). During a search of the room, deputies also detained a 53 year old male and another female inside the motel room. Deputies found a .22 caliber bolt action rifle with a scope, a .308 caliber AR10 semi-automatic rifle, and a machine to manufacture fraudulent credit cards. The AR10 Rifle had a scope, laser sight, and a bipod attached to the weapon, according to a report by the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office.
The 53 year old male was arrested for felony of possession of a firearm, ammunition, and a large capacity magazine. His bail was set at $25,000. The 26 year old male was arrested for possession of credit card manufacturing equipment, as well as a probation hold (“Probation Hold”. Is that an oxymoron?). He is being held without bail until his next court appearance. Finally, someone stays in county jail for a change! For a little while anyways.
Bring in the Dog
I love K9s. They don’t give a crap about local politics and they just follow commands and do what they’re told. They put their lives on the line to protect their humans. They’re an essential part of having an effective public safety plan. Last Saturday around 7:30PM, SCPD tried to make a traffic stop on a Toyota Camry for an unsafe lane change violation and no license plates but the driver failed to stop. After speeding and leading them on a short chase, the driver pulled into an apartment complex on Blaine Street, where he abandoned the car and fled on foot. Officers searched the vehicle and found it was registered to a 25 year old man from Watsonville who had a felony warrant for assault with a deadly weapon. An SCPD K9 Unit was sent to the area to search for the suspect, where he was eventually located hiding behind a closed business on the 1300 block of Ocean Street.
Man With Machete Taken Down in Watsonville
I heard a report last Saturday night about a Hispanic man in his fifties with a machete, and he apparently wasn’t using it to whack artichokes. This all happened on the 700 block of San Andreas Road, where he reportedly attacked another man. The Santa Cruz Sheriff’s office responded with multiple units and arrested the man.
Knife Pulled on Man at Local Church
Thursday morning around 10:30AM, a report came in that someone on the Star of the Sea Church property tried to steal someone else’s stuff and one of the men pulled a knife on the other one. An employee of the church witnessed the confrontation and reported it to SCPD. The suspect was described as a middle aged, White male possibly carrying a 12 pack of beer and a leather briefcase. SCPD searched for the suspect near Broadway and Sumner, where he was later arrested for brandishing a deadly weapon and for battery (for spitting on the victim). The suspect apparently pulled a knife on at least 2 people, a man cutting the grass who might have been a city employee, as well as the church employee. Pulling a knife on 2 people at a church? There’s some serious bad karma coming his way.
And It Would Be Ok On Any Other Day
This is one of those “Only in Santa Cruz” stories. Friday morning around 9AM, Santa Cruz parents dropping their kids off at school were alarmed to find a homeless man squatting in the parking lot of Branciforte Small Schools on Benito Avenue. Apparently, the guy was evicted from his storage unit across the street for violating the facility’s rules (let me guess, he was living out of the unit?), so he dumped everything he had in the unit into a corner near the entrance to the school parking lot. He reportedly claimed he’s legally allowed to camp in the lot because it’s a “public” school. No, he apparently wasn’t 5150, he was just that dumb. He set up beach umbrellas, a kitchen, and a bed. After much prodding by concerned parents and outraged community members, SCPD finally showed up and wrote the man a ticket for trespassing. School district officials ordered him to remove his stuff by noon or it would be taken to the dump. The man eventually showed up with a U-Haul Friday afternoon and began packing up his stuff.
But wait. The story gets better! Apparently, he stole the U-Haul he came back with to pick up his stuff. SCPD returned to the school in time to catch him loading his stuff into the stolen U-Haul. Talk about bad luck and having a bad day. Better call The Police! Because it would be ok on any other day!
It Was a Mint Condition For a Fight
Saturday night I heard a report about a small brawl at the Pacific Cookie Company on Pacific Avenue. Apparently two males got into some sort of nasty confrontation and started swinging furniture at each other. What is this? Denny’s? SCPD quickly responded (it was the cookie company!) and the two parties were separated. Neither wanted to press charges so it was business as usual with no repercussions, other than another downtown business dealing with the usual shitshow of bad behavior tolerated by the city.
This is What Happens When the System Constantly Fails You
There was a bit of drama that took place down at Cowells Beach bathrooms on Wednesday morning, after reports came in that a woman was trapped inside the bathroom screaming her head off. This story by itself isn’t really that out of the ordinary, but it gets way better. When SCPD arrived, they did find that a woman had been trapped inside the bathroom by someone who apparently used a piece of rope or cable to somehow lock her in, and SCPD started looking for a person in a pickup truck who might have done it. Then, thanks to an eyewitness account, I got the REAL story here. According to the witness, a transient woman on a bike who was either mentally ill or on drugs (or both) was apparently going through the Cowell’s parking lot screaming at people and using “the n-word”. The unstable woman then pounded on the window of a parked car with a woman in the driver’s seat (who she claimed was an “intelligence agent”) and told her to turn off her car because the fumes were toxic to her. Then she started to scream at another guy, who screamed back. This went back and forth until the woman entered the bathroom. While she was still screaming at him inside the bathroom, he went to his truck got a piece of rope or cable and tied the handle of the door to a parking meter and split. SCPD eventually let her out and looked for the truck. No idea if they ever found him.
Weekly Overdose in Camp Coonerty
Last Saturday night around 6PM, I heard a report about what I’ll just call the “weekly overdose” at Camp Coonerty. Apparently, the location given was a campsite number in San Lorenzo Park. Do they get their mail delivered there too now? SCPD responded, fire and medics responded, lots of valuable city services were wasted responding to the festering drug camp in our public park. Reports came in that someone, possibly a Ranger, gave the victim Narcan to revive them and save them from possibly dying. This comes right after the city spent thousands of dollars cleaning up after these slobs. Enable much? Do they just put out baskets of free needles courtesy of the county now in Camp Coonerty? Nothing would surprise me anymore here.
Car Chase Goes Wrong Way Down Ocean Street
Saturday afternoon around 2:45PM, a driver led SCPD on a chase downtown that began with a driver going the wrong way down Ocean street after leaving a Jack in the Box. SCPD lost the car in the beach flats area. At least 5 units fanned out in the beach flats and they finally caught the guy along Riverside near the 200 block of Leibrant. The car, whose windshield was shattered, needed to be towed.
Aptos Drunk Crashes Lexus on Fair Avenue
Wednesday night, a 20 year old drunk male from Aptos was arrested by SCPD for driving under the influence and hit and run after he struck multiple vehicles on the Westside of Santa Cruz before finally crashing his Lexus into a front yard and becoming stuck in the landscaping of a local residence. No injuries were reported.
Nevada Couple Arrested For Santa Cruz Burglary
A man and woman from Nevada were arrested last Thursday at a Monterey hotel after a tip identified their Chevy Silverado from images taken from a security camera surveillance video. The video was from a Pleasure Point home burglary which took place on Jan. 21st along 25th Avenue, according to Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office. The couple were arrested and charged with felony first-degree burglary, according to jail records. Witnesses reported seeing the man and woman trying to steal packages at various Santa Cruz County locations recently. At the hotel, authorities recovered an Xbox game console, controllers and other electronics stolen around 2AM on January 21st from an unoccupied home on 25th Avenue. The intruders broke in the back door of the home and stole approximately $3,000 in electronics. The couple were at Santa Cruz County Jail last week. Bail was set at $25,000 for each.
Free Showers for the Homeless in Aptos
A group called the Mid County Homeless Coalition will dedicate a public shower available for use by homeless people on Saturday in the parking lot of the Resurrection Catholic Community at 7600 Soquel Drive. Weekly Saturday showers will begin following the dedication. Saturday morning showers offered by the Episcopal Church of St. John since September will transition to Saturday afternoon showers in April. The community is invited to tour a trailer that houses a two-stall shower. Good for Aptos! Maybe the next county homeless shelter should be opened there as well (instead of in the city).
West Cliff March Protests Offshore Oil Drilling Potential
Saturday morning, more than a thousand people were estimated to have marched along West Cliff Drive to Cowell Beach to protest offshore oil drilling in California. A recent proposal by the current White House administration may open up new areas to oil companies for offshore oil and gas leasing. The recently released draft five-year program for oil and gas development proposes six new lease sales off northern, central and southern California. People gathered at Lighthouse Point and marched to Cowell Beach, where speakers including John Laird, Mark Stone and Jimmy Panetta addressed the crowd. The rally was organized by Save Our Shores, Oceana and Patagonia.
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