Yesterday evening at about 11PM, the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a bear sighting in Big Pine. Sheriff’s deputies, along with Big Pine Tribal Police and CA Fish and Wildlife responded and located the bear in a field north of Poplar Street. The Fish and Wildlife team was able to successfully relocate the bear. This bear sighting along with the recent bear report in Bishop on June 1st underscore the importance of being “Bear Aware”. It is important to remember that feeding wildlife is detrimental to the animal – once conditioned to human sources of food bears will seek them out creating increased safety concerns for people. For information on bear-proofing your residence, please visit Department of Fish and Wildlife’s “Keep me Wild” webpage at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/bear.html.
This morning First Responders and Command Staff gathered from Inyo County, City of Bishop, fire and law enforcement, local allied agencies, Red Cross, hospitals, local tribes, and state and federal agencies for our quarterly Unified Command meeting. Unified Command brings these stakeholders together each quarter to discuss disaster management, and to share essential status updates within the respective organization/agency. Some of the presentations today included earthquake preparedness by USGS, firework safety proved by the Bishop Fire Chief, a fire season update provided by CalFIRE, and the Inyo/Mono Health Officer, Dr. Rick Johnson, provided a briefing.
USGS has a super informative publication called “Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country”. The link for their webpage to download this pamphlet is: http://www.earthquakecountry.info/roots/index.html. This link also has a Spanish-language earthquake handbook available and a guide for business owners.
An overarching message that was shared both from the Fire Chief as well as CalFIRE is that fire season is a massive concern, with the drought exacerbating the already dry conditions. Everyone plays a role in fire safety. A great public resource, offered by California Wildfire Coordination Group (CWCG), is the new fire prevention website complete with an online campfire permit section. Remember, “One less spark is one less fire.” Check it out at: http://www.preventwildfireca.org/.
With the 4th of July approaching, please stay tuned for more information on fireworks safety – but in the meantime remember that “Safe and Sane” fireworks are the only fireworks that are legal in the State of California – and may only be used on your own private property, or with the permission of the private property owner.
Stay safe and stay informed!
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month; as part of that effort April 23rd has been set aside as Denim Day. The Denim Day campaign began in 1999 as part of an international protest of an Italian Supreme Court decision to overturn a rape conviction because the victim was wearing jeans. The Court infamously stated that, “It is common knowledge… that jeans cannot even be partly removed without the effective help of the person wearing them… and it is impossible if the victim is struggling with all her might.” This judgment became an international symbol of myth based injustice for sexual assault victims, and prompted world-wide outcry.
Denim Day is an outward example of how a community can help change people’s perceptions about violence against women, men, and children. Please consider joining local non-profit organizations, government organizations, and others in wearing denim on April 23, 2014.
Recently the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office was asked to assist a local business in a review and assessment of their security system. The business was recently renovated, and along with that they wanted to make sure they were doing everything they could to maintain (or enhance) security measures. After careful consideration of the layout and review of the current security system, which included video surveillance, the business was given constructive feedback. Note to all businesses: never hesitate to contact local law enforcement to review your current security measures. We are here to help!
It’s with great pride that I announce the promotions of Eric Pritchard to Lieutenant, and Donny Carter to Sergeant. Eric began his career as a Correctional Officer with Inyo County in 1999 and in 2000 was hired as a Deputy Sheriff, where he promoted through the ranks. Eric will serve as the Jail/Administrative Services Commander. Donny began his career with Inyo County in 2006 as a Deputy Sheriff and promoted through the ranks from there. Donny will serve as one of two Operations Sergeants for the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office. Congratulations to both!
-Sheriff Bill Lutze
Unified Command is a quarterly meeting, organized by the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, which includes first responders and emergency managers in lnyo and Mono allied agencies, County and City of Bishop department leaders, volunteer organizations (fire departments, amateur radio, Red Cross), local Tribe leaders, Region 6 representatives (from San Bernardino Sheriff’s Office and San Diego Sheriff’s Office), as well as State representation by Cal OES, and Cal FIRE.
Today, recent (local) seismic activity was discussed by USGS, including the cluster of small earthquakes in the Mammoth area during the month of February. The Department of Water and Power discussed current drought conditions. As many of you know the Inyo County Board of Supervisors, acting on Governor Brown’s Proclamation of a State of Emergency regarding California’s drought, approved a Resolution Proclaiming a Local Drought Emergency. Information for Inyo County’s drought impacted businesses and residents (including SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans, and USDA’s Rural Repair and Rehabilitation Loans and Grants) can be found at the Inyo County website: http://www.inyocounty.us/OES/Drought.pdf.
Also on the agenda was a reminder from Cal FIRE of the current fire danger – which has been exacerbated by California’s drought conditions. For tips on fire safety, please check out http://www.calfire.ca.gov/. “One less spark means one less wildfire.”
The meeting closed with a presentation by Bishop Amateur Radio Club (BARC). BARC provides emergency communication “when everything else fails”. The BARC group is also utilized during Inyo County’s disaster drills – we are lucky to have such a dedicated group of volunteers available to assist in disasters and emergencies!
As part of a career outreach program, coordinated with the Inyo County Office of Education which includes college information provided by the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and visits to various County departments, the Inyo County Jail offered tours to local high school students this week. All tours commenced in the booking/intake area of the jail, where some of the inmate and workplace protocols were discussed; and concluded with a tour of the law library and classroom area, where inmates can take their GED or take life skills classes. The ICJ tour is two-fold; students are able to see and hear what the responsibilities are for a career Correctional Officer at the Inyo County Jail, and they are reminded that illegal behavior has very real consequences. The career-related trips also help high school seniors better understand local government, which ultimately helps them to become more informed citizens. This is an excellent program, and the Sheriff’s Office is grateful to provide career information to Inyo County’s young adults.
The Inyo County Sheriff’s Department held their annual ceremonial dress uniform inspection today. The purpose of the inspection is to make sure that all uniformed members have the mandated uniform and equipment, and it also marked the introduction of the Sheriff’s awards recognition program. For the first time in the Department’s history the Sheriff now has a proprietary officer awards and recognition program. The program consists of medals for heroic or exemplary performance; and range from the Sheriff’s Medal of Valor (the highest award), to the Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Service medal. Deputies and officers can also earn ribbons, much like what is worn in the military. These ribbons tell a story about each deputy or correctional officer’s career and accomplishments. Ribbons range from assignments, to longevity and recognition. Group photos were taken in front of the historic Inyo County Courthouse.
It looks like a wintery weekend awaits residents and visitors of the Owens Valley. With that said, I want to make sure that everyone is prepared! Roads and sidewalks can be very icy so please slow down and be careful when you exit your vehicle or go for a walk. Check your stoves and furnace for issues and make sure there are no blockages that can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. DO NOT use heating items or barbeques that are not approved for inside use. Always keep an emergency kit in your vehicle (which includes blankets, food and water, first aid kit, flashlight, emergency flares and necessary medications). For more tips, check out FEMA’s guide to winter storms and extreme cold at http://www.ready.gov/winter-weather.
Stay safe and warm!
Bill Lutze, Sheriff