By Mary O’KEEFE
At a Neighborhood Watch meeting in Sparr Heights last week Glendale Police Officers Abe Chung and James Colvin answered questions from residents about local crime. Neighbors were able to share their concerns including confronting homeless people in their area.
A resident said that she had witnessed a homeless person in her neighborhood and was going to approach him but realized that may be dangerous.
Chung said it was wise that she kept her distance. “You don’t know what they are capable of,” Chung said.
Colvin said that he is leading a new division of a mental health evaluation team. He will ride with a mental health clinician from the Los Angeles County Dept. of Mental Health. Together they will respond to calls concerning people who threaten to harm themselves or others and may have a mental health issue.
“We will respond to crisis situations,” he said.
Colvin added in the past patrol officers would respond to these types of calls and determine the person needed to be held on a 5150, a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code that authorizes an officer to involuntarily confine a person suspected of having a mental disorder that makes him/her a danger to him- or herself. At times these responses could keep an officer off patrol for hours. The new team will be able to streamline those calls.
“We are going to do field calls and case management,” he said. “Instead of just putting someone on a three-day hold and say, ‘Okay, we are done,’ we are going to do follow up.”
Many of the calls police respond to concerning a mental health issue involve the same person. By continuing with follow-up meetings Colvin and the clinician will hopefully reduce those emergency calls. Burbank, Los Angeles and Pasadena police departments, as well as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept., have already adopted this type of program.
Colvin will not be able to respond to all mental health calls and said that GPD officers are trained and capable of evaluating people for a mental health hold; however, having a trained clinician on patrol will provide additional perspective to the evaluation.
Residents also got a chance to talk to the officers about the trends in the area, and many were concerned about vehicle burglaries, and a recent report of a man who had apparently been in the Crescenta Valley area “hitting” on underage girls. Police arrested him on March 26 after a 17-year-old victim said she witnessed him masturbating in his vehicle parked in the area of Buena Vista Avenue and Sunview Drive.
Two residents also shared they had a chronic issue with a man who continued to enter and steal items from their garages. They had contacted the police but were not happy with the response, or lack of response. Chung took the information and said he would follow up on the issue, which is the purpose of the Neighborhood Watch meeting. Neighbors not only hear of crime trends in the area but they also get to know each other and share information, and get to speak directly to a police officer about areas of concern.