By Mary O’KEEFE
The Glendale Police Dept. was joined by members of the U.S. Marshal Fugitive Task Force, State Parole, Probation and Gang units as well as the Special Enforcement Detail in a Probation Compliance Operation recently held in the far north Glendale area.
The probation compliance checks were conducted at 14 separate locations where those involved had burglary or narcotic related offenses.
“We have had a lot of residential and vehicle burglaries in the area,” said Lt. Scott Bickle.
Crescenta Valley Weekly was invited to ride along as the officers conducted the checks on May 31.
Prior to the operation, the agents/officers were briefed on what to expect and given information on all the locations. Most of those involved knew the area and those on probation well. The officers were all experienced, having done the compliance checks many times at many different locations, yet all took precautions as if it were their first operation.
“Be careful,” a U.S. Marshal said. “Things go wrong when you least expect it, so be safe.”
The first check on the ride along was to a local location where a convicted sex offender was living. He had registered, as is required by law, and cooperated as the officers went into the residence.
The man, now 26 years old, was convicted when he was 20. He had met a girl online.
“I thought she was older,” he said.
The then 20-year-old had sex with the young girl and her stepfather found out. He called law enforcement.
And now for the rest of his life he must register every time he moves.
“There are so many things I can’t do,” he said. “I have tried to get a job but I can’t have access to a computer.”
Because using the Internet was the way he communicated with the young girl, part of his probation restricts computer use.
He added that he was incarcerated with sex offenders that run the gambit of offenses from rape of young children to those that have repeated the offense again and again.
When asked what advice he had for young men, or women, who surf the web for companionship, he said, “Never forget that the one decision you make can change the rest of your life. Your decisions do matter.”
Nothing was found at the first home and the officers moved onto the next location where the man, who was living with his mother, was not home. Officers entered the home, with the parent’s permission, and went through the man’s computer.
Before each home is visited, another review of the location and individual is conducted. Each time the probation is described and then, in almost every case, a long list of arrests throughout the person’s career is read. And almost always there is some arrest for illegal drugs.
Sgt. Spencer, Glendale Police Dept., said this type of task force allows law enforcement officers from several different agencies to work together. “This task force is tremendous,” said Spencer.
He gave an example of a shooting that happened in the Los Angeles Police Dept.’s area. The suspect had run into the Glendale area. It is sometimes difficult for GPD to gather the personnel power to conduct a search.
“I have the task force to call,” he added. “This is all they do.”
Another of the stops was at the home of a well-known man in the area now on probation. He was on felony probation for weapons, with a long history of arrests for fighting and for illegal drugs.
The task force’s experience was clearly seen when they approached the door. A family member opened one door, while leaving the screen door closed. The man refused to open the door and, within what seemed like a matter of seconds, one officer had a bar up to the door to pry it open and another had a gun drawn. All were backing each other up. The homeowner opened the door, officers took the man who had been defiant to the side and the situation was handled.
Sgt. Spencer spoke calmly and quietly to the family as they yelled their opposition to the police and the parolee. That man had been staying in the back of the home, however the family was kicking him out. He was homeless and looking for a place to live. His life’s belongings were piled along the side of his family’s home.
The situation was soon under control. The man on probation was sitting in a chair in the back of the home and officers were calmly talking to him.
It was found that he had been in a fight a couple of nights earlier with who he described as friends. At one point he was pushed down as fists continued to punch at him. At some point he had been stabbed.
He had gone to Rosemont Middle School and started at Crescenta Valley High School when he began using methamphetamine.
“I started [using] when I was at CVHS,” he said.
He is now 28 years old and has been in and out of jail on various charges. He still uses methamphetamine.
“It sucks. I am a transient now,” he said.
As he packed up his clothes and a family member prepared to drive him to a friend’s home where he hopes to live, at least for a while, he said he still has hope.
“I feel like there is always hope, but [methamphetamine] does have a hold on my life,” he said.
The probation compliance ended at another home of another man who had been in and out of jail. He was now living with his mother, who was in her 80s. She told officers she was tired of them coming to her door, and tired of the stress.
Illegal drug use and families stressed to the maximum were common themes for the day.
During the operation, a parolee in the 4400 block of Ocean View Boulevard was arrested. Evidence of sales of marijuana with scales and ledgers were found at a parolee’s home in the 3300 block of Honolulu Avenue, but the parolee was not home. A search at a home in the 1900 block of Calafia Street found two syringes with what appeared to be heroin in them. The parolee was not home.
The task force officers all knew those who they were checking on. They had watched them from early in their criminal career and knew their history.