Karen Harvey, police and fire dispatcher here for 30 years, retires – trained 31 dispatchers

The senior public safety dispatcher in Laguna Beach, Karen Prigge Harvey, is retiring after 33 years in emergency communications, 30 with Laguna Beach.

She will work for another year as a part-time employee after some time off traveling with her family for an annual reunion, which has happened in the same location for the past 30 years.

Harvey, 55, began as a dispatcher with the Cypress PD in 1977 then came to Laguna Beach from 1979-81 before working in Newport Beach until 1983. She came back to Laguna after that and has been here ever since. She has also had part-time stints with the Westminster and Tustin police departments.

“I have worked in five different cities,” she said. “Laguna Beach has had my heart – both residents and my co-workers.”

New Console Photo

25-year-old Karen with the new dispatch console installed in 1981

She was in the dispatch center (Laguna’s dispatchers handle both police and fire calls) during the three notable floods: 1995, 1997-98 and 2010, the 1993 Mystic Hills landslide, countless traffic pursuits, burglaries in process, fires and serious medical emergencies as well as every other call one can think of.

When people dial 9-1-1 with an emergency, dispatchers such as Harvey answer the call and are the first contact they have. Dispatchers are trained to handle certain types of medical emergencies and to instruct callers in fire or safety situations. But it is the innate sense and sensitivity that comes into play when callers are dealing with deep personal difficulties.

Until 2005, it wasn’t uncommon for only one dispatcher to be on duty handling the 9-1-1 callers (often multiple reports are made for fires, traffic crashes, etc.) and getting the responding units on the way. Today two or three dispatchers man the center at all times.

Karen Harvey PhotoWhen asked about the one incident where she feels she made a major difference, Harbey didn’t hesitate in describing a 1986 call when she was on duty by herself. “A caller complained about a reckless driver on Canyon Acres Drive. It was a routine call early in the morning and I sent two units. They didn’t find the vehicle and one radioed that he would be checking out into the canyon.” She explained that this would be a routine response for such calls.

“A few minutes later, one of the units said they were checking a possible match then all I heard was a click of a mic after that.” When calls to the units went unanswered, Harvey dispatched additional officers to assist. “When the first backup arrived, the two officers were wrestling on the ground with a suspect that turned out to be an escaped convict. He had grabbed one officer’s gun and fires shots at them. The backup officer was able to fire a shot that killed the escapee who had the gun and was trying to shoot the officers at close range.”

Harvey’s quick response to the clicking sound may have saved an officer’s life.

Friends, fellow employees and her husband Rex (an IT expert) will celebrate her 33 years in communications at Dave and Buster’s in the Irvine Spectrum Saturday July 16 from 3-8 p.m. Those who would like to attend are asked to RSVP to Laura Ulrich (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) by tomorrow.

Man, 23, struck by DUI driver at Aliso

Police said the victim was “severely injured”

A 23-year-old Los Angeles man was “severely injured” when he was struck from behind as he walked with friends along the shoulder of Coast Hwy on the inland side near Aliso Beach Park at 7:35 last evening. The impact sent the victim airborne onto the northbound lanes.

Lt. Jason Kravetz said another LA man, Michael David Ash, 31, was driving the vehicle that hit the victim. Ash was arrested for felony DUI causing great bodily injury and Kravetz said he had a prior conviction for DUI in 2005. Bail was set for Ash at $100,000.

The victim was in surgery late last night at Mission Trauma Center in Mission Viejo. His name has not been released.

Is Laguna Beach “A magnet” for parolees at large as a parole agent has indicated?

Larry Bammer, president of the Laguna Beach Police Employee’s Association, has often voiced his concerns that the city’s alternative sleeping location (ASL) on Laguna Canyon Road is a “…drain of Police Department resources and city funds.” He stated that again in an email on July 4.

He stressed an added concern in that same email:

“Recently a California Department of Corrections Parole Agent stopped by LBPD and dropped off a packet containing printouts of all the parolees at large in his caseload.

“He felt that ‘Laguna Beach has become a magnet for parolees as a result of the ASL and wanted officers to be on the lookout for them.’

Bammer did not identify the parole agent and didn’t specify the number of the parolees at large (parole violators) that are suspected of being drawn to the ASL.

A check of the Police Beat records of StuNewsLaguna show that nine parole violators have been captured in Laguna Beach since late September 2010. At least six of them were listed as having no fixed address and two were taken into custody at or near the ASL.

Homeless man found dead at Main Beach

Police said an officer on routine patrol discovered the body of Robert Hurd, 59, a homeless man, at 12:39 Monday morning. The man appeared to have died about two hours before his body was found on the grassy area near the Old Lifeguard Tower.

Lt. Jason Kravetz said in a press release that there were no apparent signs of foul play. “The cause of death is unknown pending an autopsy, which will be performed by the OC Coroner’s office later this week.”

Fraud & theft were in the air

Folks return home from vacation - house sitter and $73,000 in jewelry & cash missing

Vacationers returned to their home in the 400 block of Bluebird Canyon Drive on Thursday night and discovered that their house sitter along with jewelry and cash weren’t there. According to Lt. Jason Kravetz, there were no signs of forced entry.

After totaling the value of the jewelry, the residents told police their losses were over $73,000.

“Our detectives are investigating the theft,” added Kravetz. He did not comment as to whether or not they had been in contact with the house sitter.

Four bank accounts targeted – 3 successfully

Police took four reports – two on Thursday and two Friday – of check fraud and/or ID theft and bank fraud. Three of the cases included cash losses.

Mountain View Drive – A Laguna businessman was fortunate that a Decatur, GA bank was diligent when it declined to cash checks drawn on the victim’s business account on two occasions.

Police said the suspect first went to the bank in Georgia and tried to cash a check for $4,900. The same suspect returned another day with a check for $1,250, which the bank also refused to cash.

“The suspect used an ID while trying to cash the checks,” Lt. Jason Kravetz said. “The bank there made a copy of it and the victim has it. He suspects that a former employee is involved.”

The businessman wasn’t immediately certain if the checks were fake or had been stolen, police said.

Temple Hills Drive – 14 fake checks were cashed in the East LA area with the forged signature of a woman in an assisted living residence. Her son, who is in charge of her finances, noticed the discrepancy while reconciling his mother’s latest checking account statement. The total of the 14 checks is $1,100.

Ocean Way – The victim learned that three unauthorized withdrawals had been made from his checking account in March of this year.

Each withdrawal (all made in West LA) was in the amount of $1,000.

There are no suspects at this time.

Ledroit Street – Six debit card transactions were made on two accounts of a Laguna businesswoman in Laguna Beach, Costa Mesa and Newport Beach. The losses were $500.

Police said there was no immediate suspect and that the victim was always in possession of the debit cards.

Each case is assigned to a detective who will follow the paper trails with the goal of building a prosecutable case in each incident.

Crime in the OC is no different than what
we see on television

I’ll admit it – I can’t get enough of the Law and Order shows, Cold Case and the CSI programs. Every night, you can watch hours of such programs on cable and it usually doesn’t matter to me if I’ve seen an episode a year or two before. That said I am able to also say with certainty that many others in Laguna, male and female, young and old, have told me they’re hooked as well.

Long before cable TV, the “whodunit” was always a top selling genre of books, magazines
and movies.

Most readers know that I have been covering the cops, fire and courts relating to Laguna Beach far longer than anyone else doing so in town. Before that, the law was second only to baseball as my passionate hobby.

OC District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ Public Affairs Counsel provides press releases filled with the details about important cases that have been or are being prosecuted by his office. I have always read them but only when they have a direct bearing on Laguna Beach have I written anything.

What always stood out is how the OC has crimes of all types that mirror the whole country – and cable TV. And, many of the crimes are closer to home than I believe most Lagunans realize.

Press releases from the DA’s officer will be printed here without much editing and without comment – just for readers’ knowledge awareness and entertainment with the caveat that the DA’s office isn’t interested in presenting the side of the accused.

Stu Saffer

This week from the OC DA’s office…

OC Weekly falsely accuses DA of “wrist slap” of retired police chief who exposed penis and left nude pictures in park

This case was prosecuted by another agency and the OC Weekly failed to verify the facts or call for clarification

On June 22, 2011, at 3:27 p.m., the OC Weekly published an online story by reporter Matt Coker entitled “[UPDATED with Limp Wrist Slap:] Paul Lawrence Wadley, Retired Police Chief, Left Nude Photos and Exposed His Junk on Park Trails.” This story falsely states that the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) negotiated a plea agreement with a retired police chief, Paul Lawrence Wadley, who was prosecuted by the Anaheim City Attorney’s Office.

The lead of the story reads, “For all of District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ blather about having to protect children from perverts in Orange County parks, he and his local law enforcement pals know how to keep their resulting laws from extending to their own.”

Wadley was prosecuted by the Anaheim City Attorney’s Office and pleaded guilty on June 22, 2011, to misdemeanors for prowling and vehicle tampering, for which he was sentenced to three years of formal probation, 150 hours of community service, and fines. The OCDA was in no way involved in the prosecution of this case.

The OC Weekly erroneously claims that the OCDA gave the defendant a “wrist slap” because he was a Caucasian former member of law enforcement and that the defendant would have received a greater sentence if he had been “young, black and/or undocumented.”

The reporter for this story never contacted the OCDA for a comment or clarification and never provided the opportunity to respond.

“It’s outrageous for the OC Weekly to print this story without ever giving us the chance to comment or clarify. If they had called our Office, they would have known in seconds that this was an Anaheim City Attorney case, not a District Attorney case,” stated OCDA Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder. “Law enforcement should be held accountable for their mistakes, and so should reporters who wrongly report the facts to the public.”

Off-duty OCSD deputy sentenced to prison for DUI/prescription drugs and causing car crash injuring 78-year-old woman

A previous sentencing offer was revoked after he appeared in court drunk

July 1 – An off-duty Orange County Sheriff’s deputy was sentenced today to two years and eight months in state prison for driving while under the influence of prescription drugs and crashing into and injuring a 78-year-old woman. This was the second sentencing hearing for the defendant, who was previously facing a maximum of 16 months in state prison but had the sentencing offer revoked after appearing in court under the influence of alcohol.

Allan James Waters, 38, Laguna Niguel, pleaded guilty to the court April 7, 2011, to one felony count of driving under the influence causing bodily injury, two felony counts of selling a substance in lieu of cocaine, nine felony counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, and a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury to an elder. Based on this plea, Waters, who was out of custody at the time on $100,000 bail, was expected to be sentenced to a maximum of 16 months in state prison.

Waters appeared in court for his scheduled sentencing on June 10. Prior to the sentencing, Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) court bailiffs observed that Waters was displaying objective signs of alcohol intoxication including unsteady balance and emitting an odor of alcohol. As a term of Waters’ previously posted $100,000 bail, he was prohibited from consuming any alcohol. The People subsequently requested an increase in bail and Waters was taken back into custody on $250,000 bail. The court determined that the defendant was not fit to be sentenced at that time and Waters’ sentencing date was continued. No additional charges were filed for this incident, as the level of intoxication did not rise to the legal standard for a criminal filing. Waters has been in custody since then.

At his continued sentencing today, July 1, 2011, the Honorable Frank Fasel withdrew his previous sentencing offer of 16 months in state prison based on the defendant’s conduct at the previous hearing and out of concern for public safety. The court made a new sentencing offer of two years and eight months in state prison and notified Waters that the defendant had the right to change his plea back to “not guilty” based on the change in the sentencing offer. Waters accepted the court’s new offer and was sentenced at the hearing this morning.

Dry-cleaning manager faces trial for raping two women including minor female he met through work

June 29 – A dry-cleaning business manager faces a jury trial today for forcibly raping two women, including a friend and a minor female employee.

Jaime Zamora Ramirez, 42, Costa Mesa, is charged with two felony counts of forcible rape with a sentencing enhancement allegation for forcibly raping multiple victims. He also faces a sentencing enhancement for a prior strike conviction for vehicular manslaughter in 1992. If convicted, Ramirez faces a maximum sentence of 60 years to life in state prison. Opening statements beagn Wednesday, June 29, 2011.

Count #1

In the early morning of Oct. 12, 2008, Ramirez is accused of knocking on the door of Jane Doe #1’s apartment and asking for a beer. The defendant is accused of being friends with the victim. After briefly walking away, Ramirez is accused of returning to Jane Doe #1’s apartment, forcing her onto the bed, and forcibly raping her. This case was investigated by the Anaheim Police Department.

Count #2

In the morning of July 11, 2009, Ramirez, a manager of First Class Cleaners in Fountain Valley, is accused of instructing a co-worker to have a minor employee, Jane Doe #2, help with “special deliveries.” Special deliveries require employees to drop-off and pick-up customer dry-cleaning. He is accused of telling a co-worker to drive Jane Doe #2 to Ramirez’s Costa Mesa home after completing the daily deliveries to pick up some paperwork for the business. Upon Jane Doe #2’s arrival, the defendant is accused of luring her into his home and leading her to a room under the pretense of giving her the paperwork. Once she had entered the room, Ramirez is accused of locking the door and forcibly raping her.

Ramirez is accused of threatening to report Jane Doe #2’s undocumented immigration status if she reported the rape and warning that no one would believe her story. Directly following the attack, Jane Doe #2 told co-workers what happened and then reported the incident to the Costa Mesa Police Department.

Deputy DA Jen Walker of the Sexual Assault Unit is prosecuting this case.

Adult son sentenced to 13 years to life for attempting to murder father by stabbing him in the face and mouth after learning the victim was financially cutting him off

A 44-year-old son was sentenced to 13 years to life in state prison for attempting to murder his father by stabbing him several times in the face and mouth after learning that the victim was cutting him off financially.

Milorad Teodor Olic, Santa Ana, was found guilty by a jury April 7, 2011, of one felony count of attempted murder and one felony count of elder abuse with sentencing enhancements for causing great bodily injury to an elder and personal use of a deadly weapon.

At approximately 2:15 p.m. on Feb. 15, 2010, Olic and his father, 80-year-old John Doe, were driving to look for a new apartment for the defendant. John Doe had been financially supporting the victim for the past 18 years. While in the car, John Doe said that he would no longer financially support the defendant.

After arriving at Olic’s home, the victim parked his car across the street and walked to a nearby shopping center for 40 minutes. When John Doe returned and got back into his car, Olic got into the passenger side of the car and stabbed the victim several times in the face and inside of the mouth. The defendant fled the scene on foot.

John Doe was able to get out the car and get help. The victim was transported to a hospital to be treated for his stab wounds. Later that day, Olic was arrested by Santa Ana police outside of his apartment complex.

Olic represented himself as his own defense attorney during the trial. He argued that his father had stabbed himself to get Olic into trouble.

Deputy DA Barrie Pink of the Family Protection Unit prosecuted this case.

Cops arrest grandmother, her two adult children and grandson for counterfeiting

Police say the adults were in the country illegally and the 63-year-old grandma has a felony record going back to 1976

Money Photo

Photos courtesy LBPD

A 16-year-old boy tried to pass a bogus bill at the Mobil Mart downtown at about 10:45 Wednesday night and an observant clerk immediately questioned the boy who ran from the store and jumped into a 1996 Chevy Camaro. The clerk called 9-1-1 with a description and a partial plate number and Laguna cops made a felony car stop on Coast Hwy at West Street.

Rosa Mojica, 63, Tania Santoya, 33, Roberto Jose Rodriguez, 33, and the 16-year-old boy were taken into custody at the scene. Mojica is the mother of Santoya and Rodriguez and the boy’s grandmother. Police said youth’s parents were not in the car.

A search turned up $5000 in counterfeit small denomination bills stuffed into the pants of Santoya.

Thugs Photo

LBPD booking photos

In a press release Thursday, LBPD Lt. Jason Kravetz said, “All of the money appears to have been made with a high quality printer and produced on a type of news print which makes the currency looked used.  The group is suspected of making the money and traveling to fast food restaurants and mom and pop stores in order to have the 16 year old go inside and pass the counterfeit money.

“The four suspects were arrested and brought to the Police Department for booking.  The United States Secret Service also responded in order to provide assistance.  They notified us that there has been a rash of these bills being passed in Orange and L.A. Counties.”

Kravetz added that Laguna Beach detectives served a search warrant on the suspects’ Santa Ana residence early Thursday morning and seized more fake money and “…items used in the production of counterfeit currency…”

The four were charged with commercial burglary, conspiracy, possession of fraudulent items and counterfeiting. The women also had felony burglary warrants and Mojica’s was a no bail warrant.

According to the press release, the adults will be taken to county jail later Thursday afternoon and the boy will go to juvenile hall.

“Immigration officials have placed a “hold” on the adults due to their illegal status in the United States,” Kravetz said.

Rescue of trapped teen at Aliso Beach was a “slow, delicate procedure” Monday afternoon

Rescue 1

Photos courtesy Laguna Beach Police Dept

Firefighters, paramedics and lifeguards worked for nearly an hour to extricate a teenager after a large rock toppled down and pinned his leg in soft sand

A 15-year-old boy became trapped under a large rock after a sand berm he had been climbing across collapsed pinning his leg on the south end of Aliso Beach yesterday. Police and fire units responded at 12:34 p.m. to assist lifeguards from U.S. Ocean Safety.

“Once our first units arrived on scene and assessed the situation, it became clear that it could become a dangerous situation,” fire department Division Chief Dan Stefano explained. There were concerns about swells that could reach where they were working that could undermine the soft sand even though the high tide wasn’t a concern. “A few swells did come up that hit the workers on the beach.”

Stefano added that concerns about the soft sand and possible swells led him to notify the Orange County Fire Authority. “Aliso is a county beach and we felt it best to call for their Urban Search and Rescue response. They sent a heavy rescue unit and Truck 9, which is a technical rescue unit, to assist. We had three engine companies including our Engine three with cliff rescue gear. Captain Gary Ganger of Engine three was the lead officer along with his crew, Engineer Jeff Priest and Firefighter Tom Burdick. They coordinated the work using air bags and cribbing…[the use of hardwood to brace]. He was extricated in about 50 minutes.”

Firefighters were concerned that the soft sand might loosen allowing other large rocks to fall on the boy. Paramedics stabilized him with IVs and transported him via ambulance to Mission Trauma Center in Mission Viejo.

His injuries weren’t deemed to be serious.

Rescue 2

Forgetful burglar nabbed after a DNA match on water bottle

Several wooden storage bins were ransacked when broken into overnight on Jan 11, 2011 in an underground parking area in the 2000 block of S. Coast Hwy.

Police said at the time that among other things tools valued at $600 had been stolen out of one of the bins.

The culprit forgot to take away a plastic water bottle he had been drinking from as he went about his efforts. Police submitted a DNA sample from the bottle to the California Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

Matching samples in the CA CODIS (the third largest database of its kind in the world) takes time and earlier this month, Laguna detectives learned that a positive match had been made by the database on the Jan 11 case.

John Griffeth Beck, 50, from Capistrano Beach, was arrested after an interview Thursday afternoon and charged with felony burglary.

Vacationing Virginia man charged in rape case

Berkan Muzaffer Kansu, a 23-year-old Dulles, Virginia resident, was arrested Friday afternoon by Laguna Beach detectives and charged with rape. Police said he was visiting here on vacation and staying in a local hotel. Detectives made the arrest in the 100 block of N. Coast Hwy.

Lt. Jason Kravetz said in an emailed statement that Kansu had met a 31-year-old Laguna Hills woman in a Laguna restaurant earlier in the week and went to his hotel where it is alleged by the victim that Kansu had sex with her against her will.

The victim went to a doctor on Thursday and police were notified. An investigation began immediately and Kansu went to Starbucks after police used an undisclosed ruse to get him there. He was contacted and arrested without incident.

After booking here, he was taken to county jail with bail set at $100,000.

Kravetz said the victim was physically unharmed.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

Lynette Brasfield is our Editor.

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Alexis Amaradio, Cameron Gillepsie, Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

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