Business Academy Addresses Homelessness and Active Shooters

Citrus Heights, CA (MPG)  |  By Patrick Larenas
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POP Officer James Garing demonstrates protective gear used in dangerous situations. Picture courtesy of Citrus Heights Police Department

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From left to right: POP Officer James Garing, Tony Morgan, Navigator of HART, and CSO Larissa Wasilevsky. Photo by Patrick Larenas

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - Recently, on June 20, and June 27, the Citrus Heights Police Department hosted its first Business Academy for people interested in learning what they can do in case a crime occurs while at work. Because crime and homelessness are two concerns in the community, the police department has been fostering new partnerships with citizens and businesses.

“The Business Academy is a natural development from the Citrus Heights Police Department’s Citizens Academy which has been held since 2008. We realized that like citizens, business owners and managers have little knowledge on dealing with crime,” said Community Service Officer and Program Coordinator for the Business Academy, Larissa Wasilevsky.

Problem-Oriented Policing (POP) officer James Garing stated that the curriculum of the academy reflects the department’s own approach to preventing and addressing crime: “We have a three focus emphasis on education, enforcement and engineering.”

As Citrus Heights grows and develops economically, the issues of homelessness and crime tend to affect the economic sectors of the city. “There is no instant solution,” said Wasilevsky, “because this is not an instant problem.” Due to over a decade of recession, people have “lost their homes, their jobs and careers, and are subsequently in economic distress,” added POP officer Garing.

Tony Morgan, Navigator of Homeless Assistance Resource Team, explained how HART and the police department work together to deal with the homeless crisis and crime in business situations. “We want to give the homeless an option,” she said, “so there is a lot of relationship building involved. It takes time because many come from broken marriages, having lost custody of their children and end up in substance abuse…. But when you team up with someone, things are easier.”

POP officer Garing focused on the current concern that “about 42 percent of all Active Shooter situations occur in commercial settings—with education following at 30 percent.” National headlines have brought awareness that these “incidents have been on the rise over the past two decades from about 1 case in 2000 to 30 cases in 2017”. Since 30 cases is not a big number, “It makes it difficult to prepare for because you never think it’s going to happen to you,” said Garing.

Garing analyzed a long series of suspicious Pre-Attack Behaviors to look out for and adviced: “Many of us are distracted concentrated on texting on our cell phones and other things which leaves us with little situational awareness.” “Enforcement is reactive. It will take time for the police to arrive, so be prepared,” he finalized.

POP Officer James Garing demonstrates protective gear used in dangerous situations. Picture courtesy of Citrus Heights Police DepartmentFrom left to right: POP Officer James Garing, Tony Morgan, Navigator of HART, and CSO Larissa Wasilevsky. Photo by Patrick LarenasA K-9 demonstration was part of the instruction at the Business Academy. Courtesy of Citrus Heights Police Department Tony Morgan, Navigator of Homeless Assistance Resource Team, explained how HART and the police department work together to deal with the homeless crisis. Photo by Patrick Larenas