December 2016: Message from Chief of Police

Martinez Chief of Police Manjit Sappal. (COURTESY / On File)
Martinez Chief of Police Manjit Sappal. (COURTESY / On File)

Martinez Police Chief

As we enter into the winter season we are keenly aware that auto burglaries, auto thefts, and even residential burglaries increase. We get more people visiting shopping centers and consequently, burglars use this to their advantage by breaking into cars. Some of the auto burglaries we have seen involve people leaving valuables in plain view in their cars. We had two auto burglaries this month in which a purse was left visible in one car and a laptop in another. We want to make sure we make it difficult for thieves to get your property, so please do not leave valuables in your car and make sure you lock your doors!

Speaking of residential burglaries, I was reviewing a crime bulletin in a neighboring city and the police department drew an interesting conclusion. They found that many of the homes that were broken into were entered through a rear glass door that was shattered. None of the homes had locks on their side gates that led to the backyard. I think that there is a valuable lesson in their conclusion – lock your side gates. If a burglar has to hop a fence, they may be more inclined to victimize another house as they spend more time being exposed to public view and they are limited in what they can steal as they may have to climb the fence to make their escape.

I was also reading an article recently in which a media station sent a survey to burglars that were incarcerated, asking about how they broke into homes and what they focused on during the theft. There is valuable information, from a crime prevention standpoint, in the article as well as a video on the news story with an interview of a former burglar. You can view for more information.

I wanted to share that we recently hired two new employees: Stacy McPherson and Lorraine Hargrave. Stacy was hired as a Police Assistant to work in our Evidence and Property function, and Lorraine was hired as a Records Clerk. We welcome them both to the Martinez Police Department!

Our department honored Detective Miles Williamson for his selection as Officer of the Year for 2016! Officer Williamson was hired by MPD in 2009 and he earned a BA in Psychology from California State University East Bay. He is currently a detective and has worked in patrol, serves on our regional SWAT Team, works as a Firearms Instructor, and serves in the capacity of a Field Training Officer. He is highly skilled, enthusiastic, motivated, and has garnered several letters of appreciation from the community for his service. He is well deserving of being selected as the Officer of the Year!

On another positive note, I recently received several letters of appreciation from cub scouts thanking Officer Vasquez for spending time with them. It is always nice to hear positive comments from our younger community and we appreciate the time they took to send something so thoughtful.

As for highlight of police activity:

On Nov. 7, 2016, at 1033 hours, Martinez Police Dispatch received a call of an injury accident at the intersection of Court Street and Main Street. The reporting party advised the suspect fled the area in a light blue vehicle. Upon MPD arrival, several Contra Costa County Sheriff Deputies were already on scene and rendering first aid to three injured subjects. In speaking with witnesses, it was determined that the suspect appeared to have intentionally struck three pedestrians in the crosswalk and then fled the area. All three subjects were transported to local hospitals with moderate injuries.

The investigation later revealed that one of the victims left a family court hearing at the Family Law Center, 751 Pine St., just prior to the incident. He was accompanied by two friends and as they were crossing the street, the victim’s estranged wife accelerated her vehicle toward them in the crosswalk. The driver struck all three pedestrians, stopped the vehicle, and reversed, striking one of the other victims a second time before fleeing the scene.

Approximately 20 minutes later, the Benicia Police Department received a report of a female that appeared to have jumped from the Benicia Bridge. Martinez PD, Benicia PD, CHP and the United States Coast Guard responded to the area where they located a deceased female under the bridge. A vehicle matching the description of the suspect vehicle in the hit and run was located on the bridge in the area where the female jumped. It was later learned that the woman who jumped from the bridge was also the driver of the vehicle that struck the pedestrians.

• Officers responded to the 900 block of Mellus Street for the report of a male subject refusing to leave. The location is a group home for women and visitors are not allowed. The male subject was trying to see his girlfriend and he became verbally abusive with the facility manager. Officers Poertner and Tozier arrived and contacted the suspect, who would not leave upon request and became verbally abusive. In the process of being detained, the suspect lunged toward officers and was taken to the ground where he suffered minor facial abrasions. Sergeant Ferrer responded and deployed the WRAP restraint device; the suspect was arrested without further incident. Further investigation revealed that the suspect arrived to the location in a stolen Honda. The suspect was treated and released from Contra Costa Regional Medical Center prior to being booked into Martinez Detention Facility for charges of possession of stolen property, trespassing, making criminal threats, resisting a peace officer, probation violation, possession of drug paraphernalia, and being under the influence of narcotics.

• Residents on Brookside Drive called about a male going door-to-door asking for help. We also received calls that the male was running around yelling for help and yelled that people shot at him. Officers arrived and located the individual on the roof of 3400 Brookside Drive (a vacant home under remodel). The subject was talked down from the roof and we found that no one chased or shot at him. It was determined that he had a mental disorder and was hallucinating. He was placed on a mental health hold and transported to county hospital by AMR (American Medical Response) for treatment. This was a great job by officers on scene in talking this individual down from the roof and deescalating the situation!

• Officer Montano responded to a report of a subject who brandished a firearm at another subject while both parties were in separate vehicles. This incident occurred near the intersection of Howe Road and Vista Drive. The victim in this incident was able to provide a license plate and units working the Auto Theft Task force were able to locate and safely conduct a traffic stop on the suspect vehicle. Once the alleged suspect was detained, Officer Montano obtained a statement from the alleged suspect that he did not have a gun, but recalled being cut off by the reporting party. Once Officer Montano obtained and compared statements from all parties, the victim became uncooperative and decided not to press charges or provide any further information. No firearm was located in the alleged suspect’s vehicle.

• Officer Carney was dispatched to the 900 block of Roanoke Drive to make contact with the victim of a vehicle theft. A 2008 Ford F350 was stolen, but later recovered on McEwen Road. All the tools were missing from inside the vehicle. The tools were, however, recovered later in another vehicle that Officer Leong was involved in a pursuit with. The suspect fled, resulting in a pursuit, but the suspect was able to dump the vehicle and escape prior to capture. While there are no suspect leads at this time, the good news was that the tools were recovered and returned to the victim – this does not happen often and it was great work on the part of Officer Leong!

• Officer Carney was dispatched to the 600 block of Brackman Lane for an incident that occurred on 11/11/16. At about 4:45 p.m., a white male in his 50’s approached two juvenile boys and offered them candy. The boys refused and the suspect asked the boys to come to him. The juveniles then fled to their home. The suspect was associated with a silver Jaguar, but no plate was obtained. A police report was authored on this suspicious circumstance. The kids in this case were smart not to take the candy, to run home, and to report this to the police. • Officer Russell responded to the 1000 block of Arnold Drive for an auto burglary. While en route, dispatch advised that there were two other victims. An unknown suspect smashed a window of a vehicle and removed property. • Officer Leong was dispatched to the Senior Center for a possible strong armed robbery (a robbery in which force is used to take property rather than using a weapon). A male walked into the Senior Center and told them that he had just been released from the hospital and wanted to know if he could have a cup of coffee. They told him ‘no’ and the suspect started grabbing food. The victim attempted to stop the suspect; the suspect pushed her and fled with the food. The victim was not injured. Officer Leong contacted the hospital and was able to identify the suspect. The witnesses were able to identify the suspect from a photo line-up. MPD units were unable to locate the suspect, but the investigation is on-going.

• Officer Baillie was dispatched to the area of Warren and Pine for two suspicious people; one was carrying a television. He contacted the subjects at Bush and Boynton. Officer Baillie obtained consent to search both subjects and found they were in possession of other people’s mail. Both were arrested for the theft.

• Officer Tozier initiated an enforcement stop on Shell Avenue and Martinez Avenue. He arrested a subject who was in possession of 1.5 grams of methamphetamine and .02 grams of heroin. The subject was released from MPD.

• Sergeant Busciglio contacted two suspects seated in a vehicle on Oak Manor Plaza. Neither lived in the area and one was on probation. A search was conducted and 2.0 grams of suspected methamphetamine was located in the vehicle. An owner’s manual and vehicle registration belonging to a different car and person (out of Danville) was located in the vehicle and may have been stolen. One of the subject’s was cite-released at the scene for the possession of methamphetamine and the possible stolen property is under investigation.

• Sergeant Gaul located a stolen utility trailer in the 2700 block of Waterfront. The trailer was reported stolen to Walnut Creek PD on 11/15/2016. There are no suspects. Sergeant Gaul and Officer Vasquez also towed three other vehicles which were not reported stolen, however, they were missing all wheels and engine components.

• Officer Lekse responded to county hospital for a stolen ambulance. The caller reported that the ambulance was taken within the last 30 minutes. The ambulance was located unoccupied in Vallejo by using GPS.

• Officers responded to the report of shots fired in the area of Pacheco Blvd. and Peach Street. (Sheriff’s jurisdiction). MPD units along with Deputies responded to the area and they located bullet casings in the street along with bullet impacts into a residence. MPD units assisted Deputies with scene security and a check of the residence. No one was injured and the residents stated they arrived home just after the shots were fired.

• Officer Lekse observed a subject walking in the 1100 block of Susana St. He was aware the subject was wanted for a $2,500.00 misdemeanor warrant for drug possession. Incident to arrest, he located 1.0 gram of methamphetamine and .5 grams of heroin. The warrant was not cite releasable and he was booked into MDF.

• Officers were dispatched to the 600 block of Main Street for a possible dead body. Officers contacted the subject and found he was not dead, but extremely intoxicated. He was booked into MDF by Officer Poertner.

• Officers were dispatched to Cinco de Mayo for a subject possibly under the influence of drugs who was yelling and disrupting customers. The subject would not speak. He was identified by MDF staff and booked into MDF for drug intoxication.

• Officer Breinig was contacted by a citizen who reported a person was in the plaza in front of City Hall. The subject was contacted and determined to be unable to care for his safety due to his level of intoxication. He was booked into MDF.

• Sergeant Busciglio stopped a subject who had a warrant for his arrest. The subject was booked into MDF.

• Officer Russell responded to Amtrak for a suicidal passenger. Officer Russell placed him on a 72 hr. mental health evaluation hold and he was transported to Contra Costa Regional Medical Center via ambulance.

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  1. Kristin Henderson

    People who make half the money and benefits what a police person makes and does not use a baton, taser, gun, hand cuffs, and is expected to manage large groups of unruly people under much more legal pressures than highly immune cops, do their jobs every day without having a column to brag about it and do alot more good. They are called school teachers and librarians.

    And the rest of the world who do their jobs well the same could be said. Quit taking advantage of the bad things that happen in this world to promote yourself and just do the job for which you are paid. Sickening to see your picture at all those political events. Sickening. Read the US Constitution before you step near another legislative realm, such as near the liberal Governor of California.

  2. Full disclosure here: The Chief’s message is published first in the City of Martinez’ monthly newsletter. We contacted the Chief and asked for his permission to publish the message in the Tribune, because we felt it would be of interest to our readers. He in no way sought out the publicity, and we appreciate being able to publish his monthly messages. We’ve had positive feedback about it. – Erin Clark, Publisher

  3. Kristin Henderson

    I apologize then for that. Thank you for the clarification. I will have more articulation about the Chief of Police and political agendas in a future letter to the editor. For now, I apologize.

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