LANCASTER – The eye in the sky, officer mental health, and focus neighborhoods were three of various topics discussed at the “Coffee with a Captain” meeting Thursday morning (Feb. 14).
Normally called “Coffee with a Deputy,” the monthly meetings provide a comfortable atmosphere for residents to meet with deputies from the Lancaster Station to address safety issues in their neighborhoods.
Thursday morning’s meeting at Lemon Leaf Café on The BLVD was dubbed “Coffee with the Captain,” as it featured the new head of the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station – Captain Pat Nelson. A handful of residents came out to the meeting, which was more of an informal chat over breakfast.
Residents spoke about Christopher Dorner’s downward spiral and wondered if there were mechanisms in place to prevent a similar mental breakdown at the Sheriff’s Department.
“There are outlets in our department for that,” Nelson said.
He said the Sheriff’s Department had an Employee Support Services Unit with doctors and mental health professionals equipped to provide intervention and counseling, if necessary.
Nelson also addressed a popular topic in past monthly meetings – the Law Enforcement Aerial Platform System (LEAPS).
He said there was a misconception that LEAPS was created by the Sheriff’s Department, when the surveillance plane actually belonged to the city of Lancaster.
“The city was willing to try innovative enforcement efforts and LEAPS was one of those efforts,” Nelson said. He said he did not know exactly how much LEAPS cost, because it wasn’t a cost associated with the Sheriff’s Department. But LEAPS was significantly cheaper than the Sheriff’s helicopter, Nelson said.
“As we continue to define its capabilities, it really has blossomed into a great tool,” Nelson said. “Our issue is just having it up in the air at the right place at the right time, and sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw.”
Nelson was also asked if there was a “focus neighborhood” in Lancaster, similar to Palmdale’s “focus neighborhood.” After researching the city’s Part 1 crimes, the Lancaster Station had identified the area surrounding Avenue I and 10th Street West as the city’s “focus neighborhood,” Nelson said, adding that the area has about 600 homes.
Within the next few weeks, personnel from the Lancaster Station would be going door-to-door in the “focus neighborhood” urging residents to complete a community policing survey aimed at identifying the top safety concerns of the area, Nelson said.
“Then we tailor a response to fit those concerns,” he added.
“Coffee with a Deputy” meetings are held on the second Thursday of each month. The meetings rotate to different spots each month in order to highlight different local businesses.
For more information on the “Coffee with a Deputy” program, contact Deputy Miguel Ruiz or Sgt. Theresa Dawson at 661-948-8466.