Sep 19 2017

Recreation employee Terrance May was arrested and charged with Embezzlement and Grand Theft.

Between July 15 and August 28, 2017, the crime of Embezzlement was committed within the City of Piedmont.

Piedmont Recreation Department staff discovered unusual transactions and promptly notified the Piedmont Police Department of their observations. The Police Department immediately initiated an investigation and determined that the suspect, who was an employee of the Piedmont Recreation Center for the past four years, used a point of sale application on his mobile device to take payments from Recreation Center customers and transfer those funds into his own bank account. The total amount of funds taken was $15,830.00.

Extensive investigative follow-up, combined with evidence recovered from bank accounts, led to the arrest of Terrance May.

May was charged by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office with one count of Embezzlement and two counts of Grand Theft.

May is currently out on bail.

Anyone with information and/or inquiries related to this case is asked to please contact Detective Willie Wright at (510) 420-3013.

Sep 18 2017

Suspect: TATIANA TIA, 20 years old, Sacramento resident

Location: 1900 block of Oakland Avenue

Date/Time: September 12, 2017 around 9:30 am

Charges: Identity theft (5 counts); possession of fraudulent driver licenses; possession of stolen property.

SYNOPSIS: Piedmont Police Officers responded to the 1900 block of Oakland Avenue after a concerned citizen reported a suspicious vehicle with Nevada license plates making several passes in the neighborhood. Police responded to the area, but did not locate the vehicle.

Utilizing Piedmont Police Department’s license plate reader system, the suspicious vehicle was identified and found to be a rental car. Officers continued to search the surrounding area and located the vehicle on Hardwick Avenue near Oakland Avenue. The vehicle was occupied by TATIANA TIA. TIA provided several false statements to police. Officers sought and were granted permission to search TIA’s vehicle and purse.

Found inside the purse were several fake California driver licenses, numerous credit cards in the names of five different individuals, and sales receipts from stores in Sacramento, Richmond, Oakland, and San Rafael. TIA was arrested and brought to the Piedmont Police Department.

Suspect later provided a statement to officers admitting to knowingly possessing and using the credit cards to purchase services and goods totaling over $10,000.00 since July of 2017.

With the assistance of investigators from the Sacramento Police Department and San Francisco Police Department, four out of the five identity theft victims have been identified and contacted.

TIA’s first court appearance in Alameda County is September 14, 2017. She has no prior arrests in Alameda County.

Piedmont Police Department – 403 Highland Avenue ▪ Piedmont, CA 94611 ▪ Phone (510) 420-3000 ▪ Fax (510) 420-1121

Sep 9 2017

The recent tragedies of Harvey, Irma, and wildfires remind Piedmonters – it is time to prepare for an emergency!  Piedmont’s close proximity to earthquake faults and potential raging wildfires are ongoing reasons to prepare. 

Click for preparation checklist HERE.

A booklet, GET READY, PIEDMONT! was prepared for all Piedmonters.  The booklet is online HERE.

Piedmont is fortunate to have its own Public Safety Committee appointed by the Piedmont City Council.  The Council charge to the Committee can be read HERE.

Roster of the Public Safety Committee

Council Liaison: Jen Cavenaugh (H) 428-1442

Chief of Police Jeremy Bowers (W) 420-3010
Fire Chief Bud McLaren (W) 420-3030

Andrea Swenson, School Board Appointee

Lori Elefant

Ryan Gilbert

Garrett Keating

Chris Houlder

Gina Scialabba

Lynne Wright

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Additional information below:

Get Ready, Piedmont – Disaster Preparedness Brochure & Checklist

The Piedmont Public Safety Committee has prepared the Get Ready, Piedmont disaster preparedness guide. This document provides comprehensive information on preparation for and response to, earthquakes, fires, landslides, and other emergencies. The guide is 50 pages in length with checklists and illustrations on things like turning off utilities, food and water storage, first aid materials, seismic measures etc. This document is available by clicking here as well as on the Public Safety Committee and Fire Department pages of the site. Printed copies are available at the Fire Department.

Also available is the four page checklist which provides a ready reference on steps to take in the event of an earthquake or wildfire as well as general guidance on disaster preparedness and crime prevention. Printed copies are available at the Fire Department.

http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/committees/public_safety.shtml

Sep 3 2017

Preparedness Priorities Debated

On Friday, August 25 the Urban Shield Task Force met in Oakland to discuss the future of Alameda County’s Urban Shield training program.  The controversy focuses on whether terrorism is the most important crisis for Bay Area preparation.  The funding program’s terrorism nexus requires that 25 percent of all grant funds go for “terrorism prevention activities.” Yet Alameda county’s Emergency Operation Plan lists terrorism preparedness as the eighth-most important disaster scenario, according to critics of Urban Shield.

Piedmont residents Melissa Gjerde, Lauren Mayfield, Rohaina Hassan and Jordan Bailey opposed the program on other grounds, stating “Urban Shield programs that promote/train for a militarized police force are fundamentally racist and Islamophobic.”

Also objecting were members of the Stop Urban Shield coalition who prefer investing in disaster prevention, which they consider more important than the Urban Shield.

The Urban Shield Task Force )voted down a motion to avoid funding requiring terrorism preparedness, which some called crucial for BART. Also rejected was the proposal to urge the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to lobby Congress to remove the “nexus to terrorism” requirement.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted to create a task force to study and report back on Urban Shield on January 10, 2017.  The task force is composed of more than a dozen appointees.

Read about Bay Area Urban Shield here.

Read more about EMS Urban Shield here.

Read ABC 7 news report here.

Aug 19 2017

Piedmonters are alerted to be aware of caregiver activities.

PRESS RELEASE

On June 5, 2017, the crime of Elder Fraud was committed within the City of Piedmont. The suspect, who was the victim’s caregiver for the past five months, persuaded the victim to write three checks to her in the total amount of $4,530.00. This was done against the victim’s will.
Extensive investigative follow-up, combined with evidence recovered from the victim’s bank account, led to the arrest of Dorgima Bambushew.

She was charged by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office with three counts of Elder Fraud and one count of Burglary.

Bambushew is currently in custody awaiting further prosecution.

Anyone with information and/or inquiries related to this case is asked to please contact Detective Willie Wright at (510) 420-3013.

Jul 22 2017

Piedmont’s First Annual National Night Out Tuesday, August 1st 

Throughout the United States neighbors have been gathering annually to familiarize themselves with one another and to learn how to be responsive to neighborhood safety concerns.

Piedmont’s new police chief, Jeremy Bowers, has initiated a Piedmont celebration of “National Night Out,” (NNO) which has been recognized throughout the USA as a way to engage neighbors in protecting their homes, themselves, and neighbors.

Tuesday, August 1st , marks the City of Piedmont’s inaugural participation in National Night Out.

For a bit of background, “National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.

Millions of neighbors take part in National Night Out across thousands of communities from all fifty states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide on the first Tuesday in August. Neighborhoods host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and much, much more.” Read for further information > (https://natw.org/about)

In Piedmont’s initial year, there are four NNO neighborhood events which will occur on Tuesday, August 1st.  They are:

100 Block of York Avenue …….6 – 8 p.m.

300 Block of St. James Avenue…..5 – 7 p.m.

200 Block of Greenbank Avenue 6 – 8 p.m.

100 Block of Crest Road time TBA

Members of the Piedmont Police Department will be visiting each of the above locations throughout the evening.

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If you would like further details or want to participate, contact Captain Chris Monahan at 510-420-3012.

Jul 10 2017

Going out of town?  Give the Piedmont Police Department a phone call at 420-3000 before you leave your home.

The Police Department will make routine checks of your home when you are away to determine if there is any suspicious activity.  If you have an alarm system, the police will also have prior knowledge of how to get in touch with you concerning problems. 

Home checks are one of the outstanding services offered in Piedmont.  Take advantage of the opportunity to further secure your home by giving the Police Department a call prior to going away on vacation.

 

Jun 4 2017

The staff reports for the meeting are:

06/05/17 – Approval of a Modification to a Conditional Use Permit for Sarah Baldwin, DMD at 1375 Grand Avenue, Suite 101

06/05/17 – Introduction and 1st Reading of Ord. 732 N.S. Making a Technical Correction to Section 8.1 of the City Code to Clarify that the 2016 California Fire Code is in Effect

06/05/17 – Authorize the City Administrator to Sign a Letter of Support Authorizing Participation in the 2017 East Bay SunShares Program

06/05/17 – PUBLIC HEARING Regarding the Proposed Budget and Fee Proposals for FY 17-18 and the Levy of the Municipal Services Tax and Sewer Tax

a. Presentation of Report from the Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee

b. Report on the FY 17-18 Budget Proposal

06/05/17 – Introduction and 1st Reading of Ordinance 733 N.S. Amending Chapter 17 of the City Code Related to the Grand Avenue Sub Area of Zone D

06/05/17 – Report from the Chief of Police Regarding Diversity Education and Outreach as well as Collaboration with PUSD and Other Stakeholders (Oral Report)

06/05/17 – Consideration of the Award of Contract for the Linda Avenue Crosswalk Improvement Project to Bay Construction in the Amount of $328,672.80 and approval of an Overall Construction Budget of $406,515

06/05/17 – Consideration of the Operational Analysis for the Aquatics Center Master Plan Conceptual Design

The agenda for the City Council – Monday, June 5, 2017   < meeting.

May 22 2017

City Council Meeting: Monday May 15, 2017

by Lane Manalo-LeClair, Piedmont High School Senior – 

    This past Monday I attended a City Council meeting at the Piedmont City Hall. It was a quiet, chilly evening; I kept my jacket on as I took a seat in the back of the small room. The Piedmont City Council meets on the first and third Mondays of the month, in the City Council Chambers located at 120 Vista Avenue.

    At 7:30 p.m., the members of the Council filed into the Chambers, smiling and laughing with each other. The mayor, Jeff Wieler sat in the middle behind the curved wooden table, with a gavel resting by his right hand. Sitting left of him was Robert McBain, Vice Mayor, and Council member Tim Rood. On the right of Wieler was Teddy Gray King, and her fellow Councilwoman Jennifer Cavenaugh. After a brief joke by Jeff Wieler regarding the Chinese takeout they had just consumed, all rose, faced the flag and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. As part of the first generation not to say the pledge of allegiance in school, I mouthed the words and tried to speak along, to no avail.

    The first item on the agenda was to pass a consent calendar. This calendar had previously been discussed in the last meeting, but needed a vote. Teddy G. King moved to approve the calendar, and the Council followed suit, voting unanimously to approve the calendar.

    This was my first taste of local government. I was introduced to the idea that one Council member must move on an issue, and another must second, before a vote can take place. All votes that night were unanimous, but I assume a simple majority is all that is required by the Council.

    Next was a public forum, in which citizens get the opportunity to speak up about issues regarding the city to the Council. At this point, Sarah Pearson, the School Board Vice President gave a speech about the recent anti-semitic and racist behavior occurring within the District. She said that the School Board is all for a respectful and welcoming environment, and that they have “commitment to a learning environment that is safe and secure.”  Mayor Wieler thanked her and expressed his support for the School Board and their efforts in this non-isolated issue.

   The next item on the agenda was called the “Presentation of Proclamation Regarding Elder Abuse Awareness Month”. In this presentation Mayor Wieler spoke amiably, thanking the DA’s office for their continued efforts to prevent elder abuse, and prosecute perpetrators of elder abuse. He also recognized June as Elder Abuse Awareness Month. Making his way around the table, Mayor Wieler personally handed over the certificate to the Deputy District Attorney in the Elder Protections Unit. She accepted the award and spoke to the Council and audience, affirming that “elder abuse and neglect still exists” despite efforts to eliminate it. She encouraged the Council to create more community awareness of the issue.

    It was pointed out to the Council and audience that Adult Protective Services, the District Attorney’s Office, and the police department are all places an individual can go in order to report elder abuse. Signs of abuse include dirty clothes, undernourishment, home in disarray, or a change in home appearance, as well as bedsores. At the end of her speech, the Deputy District Attorney encouraged the Council and the audience to wear a purple ribbon in order to spread awareness about elder abuse. To this, Mayor Wieler immediately pinned his own purple ribbon onto the lapel of his suit jacket. Following the attorney, Police Chief Bowers spoke seconding that the police are available to deal with elder abuse cases.

    Second, East Bay Mud District Director Marguerite Young Spoke about the water situation in the surrounding watershed and EBMUD work going on in the area. She reported that the East Bay watershed is 167% of normal; water should not be a problem this year. She mentioned that EBMUD is working to replace pipes in the Bay Area with the average pipe being seventy five years old. The rate at which they will replace them is forty miles per year, or as Councilwoman Cavenaugh pointed out, 400 years to replace all pipes.

    Lastly, Young spoke about a topic close to Piedmont, the Piedmont reservoir. There are plans underway to replace the currently inoperable reservoir with two water storage tanks, which would be completed by the end of 2018.

    Immediately following the presentation, was discussion about the Sewer Rehabilitation Project. This act proposed apportioning $3,467,994 dollars for the fifth installment of seven, to replace Piedmont’s sewage pipes. When completed 80% of the city’s sewage pipes would be replaced. The group D’Arcy & Harty Construction had the lowest bid, but the Council wanted to counter with a higher amount in order to complete the project. In addition, the Council would vote to set aside more money for the surveillance and inspection of the sites. After an associate from D’Arcy & Hardy Construction spoke briefly (in a notably strong Irish accent), the Director of Public Works Chester Nakahara spoke in greater detail about the financing, construction, and community involvement in the project. After deliberations and questions ended, Robert McBain motioned to approve the project, with Tim Rood seconding. The Council unanimously said aye to the project.

    Last, and perhaps the most heated topic, was the new cameras to be installed at the intersection of Grand and Oakland avenues.  For the last few years Piedmont has been home to automatic license plate readers, or ALPRs. This past spring, a new police video camera was used to monitor the new Hampton Park, but it proved to be an inadequate test of the technology. The Council was deliberating setting aside $10,000 from the Citizens Option for Police Services Fund to install a new surveillance camera at the aforementioned site. It would be a fixed camera that recorded over itself every 90 days. If there was a suspect picked up by the ALPRs or a pursuit of a vehicle, the police and the dispatcher could, in theory, access the camera to see where the suspect was going.

    The funding is to test this device’s usefulness to the police, and work out any quirks. Chief of police, Jeremy Bowers spoke in detail about the planned project, citing its potential use to police officers. He also acknowledged the concern for privacy and 4th Amendment rights, promising to look into blurring out faces of passers by in tape used by police.

    After Bowers spoke, there were many questions from the Council. Vice Mayor Robert McBain asked whether there was any evidence that these cameras deterred crime, in addition to their ability to help solve crime. Many members of the audience spoke on this issue. One citizen endorsed Chief Bowers and cited the recent attempt to abduct a child near Havens Elementary School as a potential scenario in which this technology would be useful. Linda Schaefer agreed, saying that Piedmont needed to “up the game.”

    Morty Glick told the Council that people do not feel safe at night in Piedmont, and talked about some families’ attempts to hire private security. He said, “Piedmont, it’s scary these days.”  Susy Struble took the podium for the whole time allotted to her, saying to the Council, “I am confused by the rush. There is no crisis. As Chief Bowers has pointed out publicly, crime is down in Piedmont, and yes, the research on the efficacy of public surveillance is inconclusive.”  Struble argued strongly for the need for a community conversation before any action taken by the Council. Despite Struble’s efforts and a slight hesitation by Councilwoman King, a half-hour later, the motion was passed unanimously.

    I interviewed Susy Struble about the meeting. When asked why she came to the meeting Struble responded by saying, “ [I came] to work to ensure the Piedmont community would have oversight and insight into public surveillance and to stop the pilot surveillance program until the community was given the opportunity to discuss and approve any surveillance policy or implementation.” After the decision by the Council, Struble said she learned that, “The the Piedmont City Council and Police Chief have no interest in genuinely engaging the community on public surveillance.” Promising to engage the public more, Councilwoman King conceded the vote, perhaps angering Susy Struble.

The swing of the gavel signaled the end to the meeting, and people began to file out of the room and mingle outside in the cool May evening. As I walked back to my car I reflected on my first experience in local government. I realized that local government is a cornerstone of democracy in the United States, dating back to the townships in colonial America. I was glad to spend one night as a part of this rich tradition.

Interview with Susy Struble

-Why did you go to the City Council meeting?

To work to ensure the Piedmont community would have oversight and insight into public surveillance and to stop the pilot surveillance program until the community was given the opportunity to discuss and approve any surveillance policy or implementation.

-What issues brought you there?

Public surveillance and the need for community oversight of public surveillance program.

-What did you learn from the meeting?

The Piedmont City Council and Police Chief have no interest in genuinely engaging the community on public surveillance

-What next step will you take to get your concern about the cameras addressed?

I already have community support and links to the EFF, ACLU, and the Oakland Privacy Group. I will continue to build community support, watch what related state laws are in development (e.g. SB 21), and start a public campaign

-Is there anything else you would like to add?

I’m happy to send you my statement if that would help

Statement by Struble: 

I remain deeply concerned for many reasons, topmost of which is the absence of genuine public engagement. Piedmont citizens should have a say in how they and their families, their children, their daily activities, are watched, if at all.

The implementation of broader public surveillance – which the pilot project represents and indicates is the plan – is significantly different from the somewhat more limited implementation of license plate readers. As I recall, many residents raised deep reservations about that program, but it was made palatable to the community by the City’s assurances that no personally identifying photos were being taken. That is not the case here, and the fact that these proposals and the policy were put forth without public engagement is really a betrayal of trust.

Public surveillance cameras cannot be considered in a vacuum – because they don’t operate in a vacuum. There are multiple, complex contexts in which this policy and related proposals must be considered. There will be more surveillance tools available and more opportunity for data to be combined, shared, stolen, and misused – and to be used for evidence-based public policy reasons. But we need to have this community conversation — and have it often, because this is a constantly changing area. This is also why we need a surveillance policy that is independent of the technology platform. There are myriad surveillance technologies available, as Chief Bowers indicated, more than just surveillance cameras, and the community deserves a say in how they are used.

I don’t believe Chief Bowers has presented a case for why public surveillance is the solution that’s better than alternatives available to us.

I am confused by the rush. There is no crisis. As Chief Bowers has pointed out publicly, crime is down in Piedmont, and yes, the research on the efficacy of public surveillance is inconclusive.

 Some examples: A recent review from a Commissioner of Alberta, Canada found the consensus amongst empirical studies to be that video surveillance has little effect on violent crime, and only a small positive effect on property crime. This positive effect on property crime, moreover, was substantially less than the effect of improved lighting.Also unclear is the effect of the extent to which criminal activity was simply displaced to non-surveilled areas. Finally, given the cost of deploying, maintaining, and operating such systems, no data exists to demonstrate that video surveillance is a more effective use of public resources than traditional law enforcement. Even the Oakland police department has stated “there is no conclusive way to establish that the presence of video surveillance cameras resulted in the prevention or reduction of crime.”

The City should embark upon an adequately long process of community education and engagement *before* any implementation of a public surveillance program, pilot or not – and note a “pilot” is still a working surveillance system. I say adequate time because the community needs ample time, particularly working parents with multiple obligations. Public surveillance poses complex legal, technical, and social issues that require a good amount of education and even more robust discussion. There are areas where state and federal law are silent, inconclusive, vague, and/or pose areas of possible conflict. For example: is the community prepared to hand over any and all data to the federal government? Under all circumstances? That’s a pretty interesting question at any time, but perhaps especially now.

I very respectfully encourage the City Council to educate itself on these issues. They aren’t as simple, as hopefully some of Jen’s [Cavenaugh] questions around public records requests brought to light. Oakland’s City Council did a great amount of self-education before it took any action and worked very closely with the community – so did Berkeley, so did BART, so did Providence RI, and the list goes on. I respectfully suggest that Piedmont follow suit.

 Public surveillance might be something the Piedmont community supports, perhaps across the board, or perhaps only in some cases under certain criteria — or perhaps not at all — but we deserve a say in whatever happens.

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors.
May 22 2017

 Heated School Board Meeting Airs Personnel Dispute and Hate Incidents –

    The Piedmont School Board met at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 10th, in the City Council Chambers. Though the agenda of the meeting was to go over logistical policy for Piedmont schools, such as reviewing tax allocations from the H1 Bond Measure or evaluating math classes for the Common Core curriculum, the first hour of the meeting was dedicated to heated commentary from the community about the Athletic Director, Victor Acuna, and the current hate incident controversy at the high school.

    Concerned community members argued both on Acuna’s behalf and against him. Some of the controversy surrounding the new Athletic Director is attributed to the non-renewal of the former coach of the Piedmont High School Boy’s Basketball team of over two decades, Coach Lavdiotis.

    Since Lavdiotis’ contract was not renewed, some community and regional individuals sparked disagreement with Victor Acuna’s dismissal of an upstanding community member and beloved coach.  One speaker in particular, Alicia Kalamas, Piedmont resident, brought up Acuna’s personal life, pointing to custody litigation and his previous position at a high school in Arizona. However, other community members supported Victor Acuna, saying that his decision was justified, and that Coach Lavdiotis may not be the best coach for the Piedmont High School Boy’s Basketball team any longer.

    Board trustee Andrea Swenson expressed her frustrations with the Acuna controversy, stating that she is tired of the character assassination of the Athletic Director, which she feels is perpetuated by The Piedmont Post; she received a standing ovation for her comments in support of Acuna.

    Other non-agendized items that community members spoke about were the hate controversies at the high school. Earlier that week, members of the Piedmont High School community and the Piedmont community at large learned of anti-semitic, racist, and homophobic incidents at the school through a student-held assembly.

    Multiple community members spoke about the hate incidents. Police Chief Bowers spoke about his role in addressing the hate incidents. He stated that since none of the eight victims have come to the Police Department about the hate incidents, they cannot be classified as hate crimes. Still, he asserted, the community must come together and protect the victims during this time, and that he sympathizes with the victims of the incident. Other community members also discussed the anti-semitic incidents in front of the Board, conveying their concerns as parents and asking for accountability and answers.

    When I addressed the Board about the hate incidents, I also mentioned the issue of accountability and transparency. I spoke about my experience as a student watching the high school’s assembly and the lack of details or clarity that the assembly provided. I walked the Board through what specifically was going through my mind as I attended the assembly, and how I had to ask around afterwards for details on the incidents, confused and unaware. Concluding my speech, I requested the School Board to explain what exactly was happening with the anti-semitic incidents so that the students knew about what horrible things were going on within our student body. As a student, I was and still am confused about the discriminatory incidents at the high school due to a lack of a clear explanation from the administration. I believe that the administration should have a transparent conversation with the members of the community in order to resolve things, as opposed to keeping the incident under wraps.

    After comments from the audience, the Board continued with the agenda, which involved recognizing Hilary Cooper for Volunteer of the Year, which included working to pass Measure A parcel tax and reviewing two possible math courses for Piedmont High School, Integrated Math 3 and Honors Math Analysis.

     I spoke to Michael Brady, Director of Alternative/Adult Education, who expressed his support for the math courses. Mr. Brady, who was there to give a presentation to the Board on the H1 bond program, told me that it was a relief to hear about the courses.

    “It was very nice to see closure on the math instruction,” Mr. Brady told me, “because it is the culmination of literally years of work.”

    Mr. Brady also expressed his support of the community members and their concerns.

    “People can speak about non-agendized items because it’s a part of the democratic process. People can speak to the items not on the agenda and have the ability and freedom to do that.”

    The School Board meets every second and fourth Wednesday of the month. Though they have an agenda, any member of the community can become involved in deliberations by expressing their concerns to the Board at the beginning of every meeting and when agendized items are considered.

by Victoria Hou, Piedmont High School Senior –

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.