By Julie BUTCHER
“As your chief of police, I’d much rather prevent one than deal with one,” Glendale Police Chief Carl Povilaitis told the council in response to recent tragic mass shootings in Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton in the past weeks, focusing on both preparedness and prevention.
When we say, “See something, say something,” we mean it, he said. The chief then ticked off statistics and potential signals or signs of trouble. Seventy-nine percent of shooters have caused someone around them to notice something wrong. That means that looking back, the chief noted, nearly 80% of people knew something was wrong. Nearly half of the shooters have a criminal history, mental health issues, and/or problems with the use or abuse of illicit substances; almost half are experiencing financial instability; that same number, approximately 46%, are typically motivated by some kind of personal grievance.
“Our partnerships, especially with the community, are essential. If you see something, say something,” Povilaitis continued, “because somebody saw the indicators; it may not be easy, but it’s important to make that call or to start reaching out because early intervention does matter.”
California is advantaged by a recent law that allows for a “gun violence restraining order,” a tool the chief explained enables relatives or law enforcement to initiate a court proceeding to remove guns from a household or to prevent an individual from purchasing weapons and ammunition.
“The City of Glendale has a full-time mental health professional assigned to the police department,” he said of the City’s extensive readiness, training and preparedness in handling an active shooter scenario. Detailing relationships with public and private partners, he outlined joint active-shooter trainings coordinated with Pasadena, Burbank, the LA County Sheriffs, the FBI, and through “Mutual Aid Area C.” Twenty-two of Glendale’s police officers are EMT-certified; every officer on the force has been trained in tactical medicine beyond basic first aid.
“If you can get out, run,” Povilaitis spoke clearly and bluntly about what people should do in response to a mass shooting. “If you cannot get out, then hide. Barricade the doors. Make yourself quiet. Turn off your cellphone. Most of the people who are active shooters are looking for easy targets. You don’t want to be the person they hear or see.”
Fire Chief Silvio Lanzas then updated the council on the department’s progress in brush clearance and weed abatement inspections, reporting that 9,190 properties have been checked in the city’s highest fire danger zones. An impressive 82% had been cleared before the first inspection, he reported.
“This is what we do with the $15 brush clearance fee,” Mayor Ara Najarian responded, “to keep the entire community safe.”
During the council’s review of technical changes to waste and recycling regulations, and in response to public comments offered by Glendale resident David Eisenberg, Councilmember Paula Devine called for a study on eliminating single-use plastics, particularly in local restaurants.
Working to prevent an estimated 22 veteran suicides every day, representatives from the local organization Wellness Works announced a three-day 24-hour event to “stand watch.” Kicking off at 2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 13 and closing on Sunday, Sept. 15 at 2 p.m. in Verdugo Park, 1621 Cañada Blvd., Not on Our Watch volunteers and participating organizations will stand watch around the clock to call attention to the issue of veteran suicide. Information for potential volunteers and sponsors is available at https://www.wellnessworks4veterans.org/join-the-watch.
Sharing a brief shout-out to the organizers of this year’s National Night Out, celebrated across Glendale on Tuesday, Aug. 6, Mayor Najarian said that he knows how much work it takes to pull off events in 30 neighborhoods but also how important the message is.
“We are a city made up of communities and neighborhoods,” he said. Pulling together and getting to know our neighbors, he added, “makes it a safer, healthier, and more desirable city.”