Historic Moment for CHPD

By Elise Spleiss  |  2018-10-04

(L-R) Commander Alex Turcotte,  Commander Jason Russo, Citrus Heights Police Chief Ron Lawrence, Assistant Police Chief Gina Anderson,  and Support Services Manager Sandy Maraviov. Photo by Janet M. Schaefer, Sergeant, Office of the Chief

Department Emphasizes Teamwork

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - September 27, 2018 was a landmark day for the Citrus Heights Police Department (CHDP).  Police Chief Ron Lawrence had the honor of administering the oath of office to former commander Gina Anderson, making her the first assistant police chief in the 12-year history of the department. In his words, “This is a new era for the CHPD, a historical moment.”

Two more firsts in the history of the CHPD were created by newly promoted commanders, Jason Russo and Alex Turcotte. “They hold the distinction of being the only members in the history of the CHPD to ascend through the ranks (police officer, sergeant, lieutenant), to the executive level of commander,” said Lawrence.

The city council chambers were filled with blue uniforms, supportive officers from surrounding police jurisdictions, family members and other well-wishers from the community honored to be part of this event.

Anderson has been acting in her new position since July 8, 2018.  The two commanders’ positions were left vacant by the retirement of Commander Daman Christensen on July 6 and Anderson’s promotion.

Anderson, Russo, Turcotte and Christensen were each hired in 2006 by then police chief Christopher Boyd (now city manager) as part of the new Citrus Heights Police Department. Each has contributed to the building of an award-winning police department.

All three newly promoted staff members come with years of education, experience and important contributions to the positions they have held since their careers began.

In an interview, Russo said he will be running the Investigative Services Division which also encompasses youth and family services and the new Mesa Verde High School Pathway public safety program. He will work towards enhancing the department and the community, helping to solve crimes, and working to make the community a safer place to live. He also remains as president of the Police Activities League.

Turcotte will be head of Patrol Services. He said, “As my predecessors before me, the focus is to drive down crime, calm traffic and improve the quality of life in Citrus Heights.”  He is working with two new lieutenants, Kris Frey and Chad Morris. They will be surveying staff to see how make improvements and provide even better service to the community.

In an address to the city council, Anderson spoke on behalf of her fellow honorees, acknowledging the support needed by family members who are the cornerstone of those in the business of public safety. The importance of teamwork was the common theme. She thanked Assistant City Manager Rhonda Rivera and Community Services Director Rhonda Sherman for their skill and professionalism and vowed to continue their partnership in working with city council and the city manager.

In 2019 Chief Lawrence will become president of the California Police Chiefs Association. His new position will free up Anderson’s time to lead public safety dialogue within communities throughout the state. 

Anderson recognized the great personal sacrifices city founders and community leaders went through to incorporate and to bring a police department to Citrus Heights. She vowed to employ the executive team and community partnerships to keep the memory of this sacrifice alive in the department.

Finally, she emphasized the importance of developing programs focusing on the youth in community to deter crime now and in the future.

Also present at the event to support the new executive team was Tom Chaplin who began his career in Citrus Heights as a lieutenant in 2006. He was the first lieutenant to promote to a commander in 2010. In 2013 Chaplin left Citrus Heights to be chief of police for Walnut Creek. This is just one of dozens of testaments to the quality of officers developed at the CHDP.  Officers move on, taking the experience and leadership learned here to other law enforcements agencies.


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CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - After an inspiring promotion ceremony swearing in three new members of the executive police staff, Mayor Steve Miller called the September 27 Citrus Heights City Council meeting back to order to discuss the rest of the evening’s agenda.

Mesa Verde High School Principal Colin Bross delivered an impassioned presentation describing the school’s efforts to increase enrollment and address the negative perceptions of the school that are inhibiting its growth. Principal Bross explained that some people in the community have misconceptions about the school, mistakenly believing that the school is unsafe and doesn’t offer enough academic options.

Although the school is experiencing decreased enrollment, they have been actively working to increase the attendance rate of the enrolled students and have seen a positive improvement. Principal Bross described the school’s three-year business academy program, the strong athletic programs, the highly qualified teaching staff, and their partnership with Citrus Heights Police Department. They are working to increase academic rigor and to achieve equitable access to advanced placement courses. They have increased the number of advanced placement courses in addition to increasing the number of students of color and of low socio-economic status who are enrolled in AP courses.

The developer of Stock Ranch wants to build an 8,700 square-foot commercial building that will front Auburn Blvd. In a compromise between the city and the applicant, the design plan has been revised to allow that 50% of the frontage will be transparent (window, glass doors) and active with outdoor seating areas.

Council Member Jeff Slowey said, “It is good to see this project is moving forward after many years.” He acknowledged that the area has a lot of open land and hopes the developments will be an asset to the city. Mayor Miller stated that he is impressed with the landscaping plans. No public comments were made, and the council unanimously adopted the resolution.

The council then heard public testimony regarding the allocation of the annual Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds that are used to develop urban communities by providing decent housing and expanding economic opportunities. For 2019, the estimated CDBG entitlement award is $600,000; of that total, $110,000 will be used to meet public service requests. Representatives from the following public service groups spoke to the council about their requests for funds: Campus Life Connection, which offers after school programs; Meal on Wheels, a senior nutrition program; Crossroads Diversified Services, which offers youth employment readiness programs; Sunrise Christian Food Ministry, an emergency food program; Sacramento Self-Help Housing, which offers housing counseling and a renter’s helpline; Terra Nova Counseling, a juvenile diversion and education program; and WEAVE’s violence reduction team.

Council members stated that they are happy to be able to provide funding for 2019 since all the organizations are so worthy and do so much good for area residents. The council moved to continue the final action on the draft plan to the November 8, 2018 meeting.

The council then approved an amendment to the general plan and zoning code concerning commercial subdivisions. The amendment, Policy 9.5, would discourage the creation of any new parcels within existing commercial centers, if such creation might hinder the viability and/or future redevelopment of the center. The policy requires any proposed commercial subdivision to depict their long-term development plans. The amendment is supported by Sunrise MarketPlace and other business groups in the city.

A proposed update to small lot ordinance guidelines was unanimously approved. Some lots in the city are too small to develop into apartment complexes, so a “new use category” is being proposed. The intent of the proposal is to increase housing options in the city and enable the development of difficult parcels.

The update to the small lot ordinance would allow for single-family homes that share guest parking and landscaping in the front common areas but have small individual yard spaces in the back. The proposal includes important design details such as standards for landscaping, the use of decorative paving, and architectural design. In order to upkeep the shared landscaping, an HOA would be required for each small lot community. Vice Mayor Jeannie Bruins said, “If it’s done right, it could be very charming, like cottages with a friendly neighborhood feel.”

The meeting closed with Council Member Bret Daniels requesting an item be added the future agenda: he spoke with great emotion about the recent killing of Mark Stasyuk, a Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputy who was shot in the line of duty while on a routine call in Rancho Cordova. Deputy Stasyuk was an alumnus of San Juan High School in Citrus Heights, so Council Member Daniels requested that the city work together with the school and with other neighborhood groups to ensure that a fitting memorial is created to honor Deputy Stasyuk for his service.

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Applebee’s Partners with Local Law Enforcement

Story by Jennifer Petrella  |  2018-10-04

(L-R) Breanne Rasmussen, Commander Jason Russo, Ashley Wyant, and Lieutenant Kris Frey. Photo courtesy BML Public Relations

Hosts Tip-A-Cop Fundraiser for Special Olympics

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - On Wednesday, September 19, Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar of Citrus Heights opened its doors to members of local law enforcement for a Tip-A-Cop fundraiser. Members of the Citrus Heights Police Department served as ‘celebrity waiters’ at Applebee’s for the fundraising event, with 100% of their tips donated directly to the Special Olympics, an organization providing year-round sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities or closely related developmental disabilities. The event raised over $1,600 for Special Olympics of Northern California.

Tip-A-Cop is an annual fundraising event organized by The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, where law enforcement officers volunteer their time to raise funds for Special Olympics, the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities. Apple American Group, who own and operate the Applebee’s of Citrus Heights, pledges to assist and support those institutions that enhance the quality of life in the communities it serves.

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Superheroes Descend Upon Sacramento

Story and photos by Shaunna Boyd  |  2018-09-28

Wonder Woman poses with three-year-olds Roxy (left) and Isla (right).

DC Wonder Woman Run Series Brings Out the Hero in Everyone

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Sacramento was overrun by superheroes on Saturday, September 22 when the DC Wonder Woman Run Series hosted its inaugural event with a 5K and 10K run through Capitol Mall. Sacramento was the first city in the United States to participate in this race.

The event was produced by SON Events in conjunction with Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment. Sarah Ratzlaff, director of marketing for SON Events, said, “The race has a strong overall theme of women’s empowerment. Wonder Woman embodies strength, bravery, and power. The goal of the event is to show that there’s a Wonder Woman in all of us. That’s why we’re using the hashtag #IAmWonderWoman.”

The festival area was decorated with giant balloons and lined with an array of fluttering Wonder Woman flags. Area streets were blocked off by police cars, flashing their red and blue lights. Approximately 1,300 people participated in the 5K and 10K runs. The first-place finishers were Sandra Khounvichai with a time of 20:26 in the 5K and Stephen Harms with a time of 48:43 in the 10K.

The DC Wonder Woman Run Series is designed to empower the Superhero in everyone, so runners and walkers of all ability levels were encouraged to participate, regardless of their athletic abilities. Many participants had never run or walked in a 5K before this event. After completing the course, each participant was given a Wonder Woman medal. The festivities continued after the race, with a celebration featuring food trucks, a beer tent, face painting, official Wonder Woman merchandise, and a main stage with live musical entertainment.

Race participant Christie Pierce said he was persuaded to join the race just the evening before: “I decided to tag along. I said, ‘Sure, I’ll wear a skirt, I’ll do it.’ But more importantly, I decided to do it because I support strong, independent women.”

Theresa Ivaldi, Karli Cisneros, and Christina Mundy entered the race together. They thought it would be more fun to run together in a group of friends. This was Ivaldi’s first run, and she thought the Wonder Woman run was a fun way to start. Cisneros said, “I love running and love spending time with my friends, so I figured why not combine the two.” Mundy said, “What better way to run a 5K with friends and family than a Wonder Woman run that represents women’s power?” Mundy’s kids, Isabella (10) and Jackson (8), and their friend Sophie Carr (10), all love Wonder Woman. They enjoyed the race and especially loved getting a shiny medal to commemorate their accomplishment of crossing the finish line.

The DC Wonder Woman Run Series will be hosted in Oakland, San Jose, San Diego, and Los Angeles this fall. The Los Angeles run, as the flagship run, will be the largest in the series with 7,000 – 8,000 participants expected. If you would like to participate in one of the upcoming runs, or for more information on the DC Wonder Woman Run Series, please visit the website at www.dcwonderwomanrun.com.

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Sacramento CERT Needs You

Story by Trina L. Drotar; Photos courtesy Sacramento CERT  |  2018-09-28

The Basic CERT course, Level 3, is sanctioned by FEMA and was developed by Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) after the Mexico City and Kobe earthquakes.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Sacramento’s California Emergency Response Team’s (CERT’s) graduation drill took place on Saturday, September 1 from 2 p.m. – 10 p.m. at the Northern California Regional Public Safety Academy in McClellan Park. The community participated and explored their inner actors as volunteer victims with broken arms or legs or other injuries for the day’s free event.

The drills tested the program’s graduates on practical skills including sizing up a building to determine if it is safe to enter; search and rescue; transport; and triage and treatment. They assessed situations simulating burning buildings and locating victims in dense smoke and at night. Graduates radioed transport crews, practiced victim transport before another group assessed injuries, bandaged, and prepared victims for transport to a medical facility said Robert Ross, Chief, Operations, Sacramento CERT, CERT 22.

“Watching, you don’t get to see as much,” he said, adding that the role of victim teaches more to the community who wants to understand what happens during an emergency such as a fire.

Ross explained that most people see only the end result.

“It’s a good way to see them in action and experience it without being in a collapsed building,” he said.

The Basic CERT course, Level 3, is sanctioned by FEMA and was developed by Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) after the Mexico City and Kobe earthquakes. The course, Ross explained, is for everyday citizens with no previous training or particular skills who want to learn how to prepare for a disaster and is offered at no charge.

“Civilians will be on their own for the first 72 hours,” said Ross, and will learn about disaster psychology and how to prepare bags with the necessities to assist in their immediate neighborhoods. Ross said that people don’t often think about bringing items like pet toys when they need to evacuate. Trained civilians can put out small fires and even triage in their neighborhoods if the need arises, but they need to practice, and that’s where the graduation drill comes in.

Graduates learn about fire behavior, which has been especially bad in California this summer, identification of hazardous materials, including those being transported, and terrorism. Upon graduation, CERT trained civilians can assist locally and can transfer their CERT training to other cities or states if they move. Since the Sacramento region is prone to flooding, this would also be covered in local training.

This level is required in order to continue with advanced courses to be certified as a Disaster Service Worker or a First Responder. Additionally, graduates may pursue training to join one of the special teams – Urban Search & Rescue, Animal Response, or Radio Communications.

“During a disaster cell phones won’t work, satellite phones are few and far between,” said Ross. “Ham operators during Hurricane Katrina passed messages. We can talk to Japan if we need to,” he said.

One legally blind team member who used a motorized wheelchair ran the ham radio and was one of the best in Sacramento.

“There are no limitations on who can participate. There are many ways to be involved, with a job for everyone.”

For additional information, visit www.sfdcert.org. Look for them at many local public events. The next academy will be held in spring of 2019.

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Memorial Service for Deputy Mark Stasyuk

Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department and Rancho Cordova Police Department Release  |  2018-09-28

Deputy Mark Stasyuk

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - The memorial service for Deputy Mark Stasyuk is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 29, 2018, at Bayside Church Adventure Campus in Roseville, located at 6401 Stanford Ranch Road in Roseville.  A multi-agency fly-over will take place at the conclusion of the memorial service. All other law enforcement honors will be performed at a private graveside service.

Stasyuk was shot and killed in the line of duty on September 17 after responding to a call in Rancho Cordova. He leaves behind a wife, mother, father and sister.

Source: Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department and Rancho Cordova Police Department

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CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - HOPE (Healthy Outcomes for Personal Enrichment) is a local nonprofit organization that offers affordable counseling services to the community. They rely on fees for services as well as community donations to keep costs low for their clients. HOPE is hosting their second annual Hops for HOPE fundraiser, which will be held at River City Brewing Company on October 4, 2018. The event is from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 per person and include appetizers and two drink tickets. River City Brewing Company (which is located in Milagro Center at 6241 Fair Oaks Boulevard in Carmichael) generously donates wine, beer, and staff for the event.

Community donations are especially important because HOPE’s mission is to offer affordable sessions to those in need. Darlene Davis, executive director of HOPE, explained that there is a group of people who do not qualify for Medi-Cal but also do not have access to affordable counseling through traditional insurance. The goal of HOPE is to serve this segment of the community by offering counseling on a sliding scale depending on what the client is able to pay. Typically, $40 per session is the lowest rate, but HOPE does occasionally offer sessions for $20 to those in the greatest need.  

The experienced licensed therapists of HOPE not only work with clients to improve their well-being, but they also work in a supervisory capacity to train new therapists. To become a licensed therapist, it requires a master’s degree and 3,000 hours of supervised therapy sessions. It is an extremely intensive process, and HOPE is proud to support the next generation of therapists who will serve the community.

One of the reasons HOPE is able to offer such affordable rates is because graduate students who are working toward becoming licensed therapists volunteer as trainees. As part of the training process, HOPE offers clients an eight-week counseling program known as the One-Way Mirror. During this program, trainees conduct counseling sessions in a room with a one-way mirror that allows supervising therapists and other trainees to watch the session in real time. The trainee wears an ear-piece so the supervising therapist can offer immediate feedback and suggestions. Davis explained that it is like having eight therapists at once. The cost is only $25 per session, and clients sign up for this program knowing that they are getting the help they need while also giving the trainee valuable hands-on experience.

The supervising therapists at HOPE work hard to train people with integrity who are eager to serve the community. Davis takes great pride in the work they do and in their dedicated trainees and associates. Davis said, “We all work in our communities, and it’s so important to us that we’re building healthier communities by building healthier families.”

To better serve all those in need, HOPE offers many specialized forms of therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which helps people understand and address harmful thoughts and actions; Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), which offers strategies to accept, destigmatize, and live with mental illness; Active Parenting of Teens (APT), which teaches parents how to talk to their teens and to watch for signs of high-risk behavior; and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which addresses how the brain accesses and reacts to traumatic memories.

Donations to HOPE help pay for standard operating costs as well as to purchase needed equipment for specialized therapeutic techniques. Davis first began operating HOPE as a nonprofit in 2008. She said, “I just wanted to give back to the community and give back to the profession, and it’s grown into what it is today.”

HOPE has offices in mid-town Sacramento, Roseville, and Folsom. For more information, visit their website at www.hope-counselingcenter.org.

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