Police Take Aim at Armed New Year's Revelers

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Responsible Y2K : One Thread

Police Take Aim at Armed New Year's Revelers

By HOLLY J. WOLCOTT, Special to The Times

A bullet fired into the air falls at a rate of 300 to 700 feet per second. At 200 feet per second, a bullet can penetrate a human skull. Those facts of physics have caused Ventura police to compile a flier warning residents not to get too crazy on New Year's Eve. "We're calling it the 'what goes up must come down' plan," said Sgt. Randy Janes. In fact, the project is more sophisticated than that, having been modeled after a Los Angeles Police Department program that started a decade ago after a person was killed and a police officer injured by New Year's Eve gunfire. There have been no such fatalities in Ventura, but several years ago a man fired off a celebratory round from a shotgun and the bullet came down through the roof of his mobile home and landed in the living room. "There is concern this year that because it's the [new] millennium there will be a greater tendency by people to discharge firearms," Janes said. In past years, officers have responded to an average of a dozen calls of fired shots at the stroke of midnight, but Janes estimated the number could double or triple this holiday. A fact sheet on Operation Gunfire Suppression will be given to students, Neighborhood Watch leaders and business owners. Public service announcements in English and Spanish will be in newspapers and aired on radio. Janes hopes the fliers will deter people from pulling out their pistols. If an armed reveler is caught in the act, he or she will be arrested and prosecutors can file the case as a felony, making prison time possible. * * * Christmas is still 12 days away, but a couple of Grinches already showed up and stole some of it. Two armed men robbed a Christmas tree lot at Victoria Avenue and Gonzales Road last week, ripping off tip money from employees and emptying a cash register before fleeing on foot. The heist was one of half a dozen armed robberies that have occurred in the last 10 days at businesses in the county. Arrests have been made in two of the cases, and the rest remain unsolved, authorities said. "Unfortunately, at this time of year these types of crimes go up," said Eric Nishimoto, a spokesman for the Ventura County Sheriff's Department. "The holidays just attract more criminal activity because there are more crowds and more money out there." Nishimoto warned people to be aware of their surroundings while shopping and not to carry a lot of cash. If confronted, though, it's always best to hand over your money and property, he said. "Don't resist enough where it would endanger your life because it's better to be a live witness than a dead victim," he said. * * * Oxnard police are taking a hard line on security alarms that go off on New Year's Eve. If an alarm sounds between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. that night and the alarm company hasn't notified the city that its system is Y2K ready, the cops might not immediately respond. "We will assume that the alarm has rung because of Y2K complications, and as such, our response to the alarm will be at a lower priority . . . if we can respond to it at all," said Sgt. Tom Chronister. Chronister said the tough approach is necessary because nearly 99% of alarm calls received by the department in 1998 were false. "Currently, all alarm calls receive top-priority dispatching. We hope to maintain this high priority for all alarm calls, but with the threat of police requests exceeding our means at year's end--and the chance of handling innumerable false alarms because of Y2K noncompliance--we are left with few options," he said. As of last week, only eight of 61 alarm companies that do business in Oxnard had notified city officials of Y2K compliance. "If I were an alarm owner I'd be calling my alarm company and going, 'Yo,' " Chronister said. Because there are more than 5,000 alarms at businesses and homes in town, it could be a loud holiday in Oxnard.

-- Mild Mannered Reporter (clark@super.duper), December 13, 1999

Moderation questions? read the FAQ