Emergency services and law enforcement personnel are getting a workout this year in California, between droughts, wildfires and heavy flooding. However, through cross-departmental training, preparedness exercises and more, the Orange County area is up for the task.
Through a tour with ASIS International, Security magazine got an inside look at many of the partnership opportunities in Orange County and the surrounding area.
Law Enforcement Training Builds Multi-District Partnerships
At the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Law Enforcement and Public Pistol Range (colloquially known as the Katella Range) in Orange, California, police officers can use the range to get their monthly firearm certification, train in some of the on-site classrooms, or be put through simulations to test their reactions, recreate incidents and prepare for incidents.
On the indoor range, Jerry Lee, the civilian weapons instructor (and 25-year Marine Corps veteran) can devise simulations of different situations – either copying a real event or creating a new one – to test officers’ reactions. He has a plethora of stage props at his disposal, including movable walls, dummies, plants, televisions and more, and he can even drive cars onto the range to enhance the scenario. From the command room outside the range, Lee can change the lighting and add sound effects, fog or even rain (gleefully demonstrating to Security how to simulate a thunderstorm on a group of unsuspecting trainees).
“This put trainees in a different mindset,” he says. “We’re trying to break down tunnel vision” by introducing many different factors for officers to consider. After a session, the trainee debriefs his or her actions to discuss pitfalls, choices and get feedback.
The range also has a “Laser Village,” which is a small, mockup main street (complete with a bank, a bar, and mailboxes) where officers can train outdoors. These exercises use Simunition (non-lethal ammunition, similar to pellets), and actors are placed throughout the Village to create a more spontaneous, evolving scenario.
“These scenarios are hands-on, and they’re about stress inoculation,” says Sgt. Dean Weckerle. “The more you stress someone (in a situation) when no one will get killed, the better they’ll react in a real situation.”
Orange has a relatively small in-house police force, but due to the contracts with the training center, there is the ability to pull in 2,000 officers with the same training qualifications through the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. This, Lee says, is a link that lets agencies communicate, gain access to canine units and bomb or drug-detecting dogs, and a helicopter or tactical vehicles.
Disaster Management on Loma Ridge
Located on a ridge overlooking Orange, Santa Ana and Irvine, California, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Emergency Operations Center and Sheriff Department Communications Department run on interoperability. For fires, earthquakes and riots, the response starts here.
According to Jack Hoag, Senior Program Coordinator, “As soon as the community needs our help or (an event) impacts one or more of our jurisdictions… we jump in to help.” The EOC can be active within an hour, and the facility holds enough resources to support a team of 250-300 people for more than three days.
The EOC runs hotlines for emergency information or reporting for the public, providing updated information on school closings, taking reports of downed trees, and filtering that information through to the appropriate department.
Every employee of the county is automatically emergency center personnel, and they take two classes per month to train in particular roles. Brightly colored binders fill the Informational Center, full of reminders of everything personnel filling a role would need to know. Personnel typically stay within their field, so law enforcement officers would fill law enforcement information roles, likewise with education or medical personnel.
Security, Safety, Tourism
Richard Groscost, Security and Safety Manager for the Anaheim Convention Center in the Anaheim Resort district, is a full-time liaison. He works closely with clients, talent, law enforcement and more.
“I’m a security guy; I’m a safety guy; now I’m a tourism guy,” says Groscost. “But it’s not that I’m the only one that’s security-minded,” he adds. Event managers, ushers and other staff know to bring incidents or suspicions to his attention.
Through a Department of Homeland Security grant, the Anaheim Convention Center is adding an emergency operations center, a single control room, and is transitioning all surveillance cameras (over 300 of them) to IP. Throughout the resort, there are monthly meetings with the district’s police force, which provides the benefits of social media monitoring to enterprises in the area. The meetings help business leaders in the area, as well as local and federal law enforcement, to share valuable information.
Addressing Lesser Crime to Clean Up Hollywood
At the Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles – a major tourist attraction and shopping center that includes the Dolby Theater and neighbors the Jimmy Kimmel theater – crowd control and broken window crime are the common concerns. For security firm Andrews International and the local Business Improvement District (BID), improving these quality-of-life crimes was a top priority.
The security team for the district and the Center can make citizen’s arrests, build rapport with store owners and regulars in the neighborhood, and fulfil its mission of “community assisted problem-solving.” For example, for a public intoxication incident during the BID team’s hours (6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.), the Hollywood & Highland security team could pick up the offender, issue a citation, write up the paperwork and deliver him or her to the police station. The police get the credit for the arrest, but the paperwork and the deliver are done through the BID. Working with the BID security team is now a part of Hollywood LAPD training.
BID officers are also getting more involved with the community, participating in outreach groups and connecting homeless people with resources and help.
When Andrews International first got the contract for BID security, there were 2,500 arrests in the first year. In just the second year, the number of arrests had dropped to 1,707.
Are you attending ASIS International’s Annual Seminars and Exhibits in Anaheim, California, this September? What are you looking forward to seeing? Let us know in the comments, and plan on visiting Security magazine at booth #3143.