Page 1 of 2
Posted on February 11 at 1:10 a.m.
Bravo Tyler Hayden!! Excellent coverage of this situation in the face of the pathetic article put forth in the Santa Maria Times. And, to Catherine Harris, "Thank You" as well for bringing justice to Dan Ast. This was a very disturbing situation wherein a young motor officer was allegedly having a sexual relationship with an underage female explorer scout. When the situation was brought to the attention of the police department it was night time and the primary parties were at a DUI checkpoint. SMPD administrators wanted to question the girl and sent word to the checkpoint for her to come to the station. The lieutenant involved let all personnel at the scene know that the girl was involved in an "investigation". That led to a series of events wherein the involved officer declared he "was not going to prison". Many police executives who have studied the case believe the decision not to let him leave the checkpoint was sound. A police sergeant, who was also the officer's cousin was sent along with another officer to the scene.Few if any police executives consulted felt that it was "a reasonable expectation" that the motor officer would pull his handgun on his cousin and other officers. With that threat of lethal force before them the officers best friend was forced to shoot and kill him. Shortly thereafter the police chief resigned and a commander and the traffic lieutenant involved left the department. That left only Dan Ast standing there. The City of Santa Maria hired Ralph Martin, a retired Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Commander as the new chief. He was tasked with restoring ethics, integrity and improved police procedure to the SMPD. He then brought in two of his cronies from the LASD who became police commanders.This move left just one SMPD veteran commander in place and sent the message to the rest of the department that their career advancement path was blocked. Then Martin decided to blame this tragic shooting situation on Dan Ast. At the time of his termination Ast was a respected lieutenant with 17 years service. As pointed out by Catherine Harris, Martin's theory was flawed and not supported by the facts in the case. Now, the city manager, the one who brought Martin in as chief will review the findings. Fortunately there are some new and very competent members of the City Council who hopefully will decide to end this fiasco.Dan Ast should be reinstated with back pay. He surely will resign or retire and sue the City for negligent termination. He has been subjected to humiliation and undue stress.
On Santa Maria Police Skewered for Firing Whistle-Blower
Posted on June 19 at 8:04 a.m.
I agree John. This is the most divisive and incompetent president in U.S. history. The results of a recent Wall Street Journal poll, assisted by one Obama media outlet shows his approval rating on foreign policy at 35%. His supporters must criticize the usual targets from the past. The VA scandal, the Bergdahl disgrace, Benghazi lies, and the IRS scandal remain. It amazes me that the BHO folks would insult the intelligence of the American people by claiming "my dog ate my hard drive" in a pathetic attempt to keep the truth of Lois Lerner's misdeeds from the people. Some very conservative right wing theorists suspect the alleged Benghazi suspect now in custody is cruising around on a US ship while BHO operatives try to get him to say that the attack was video inspired. Yet, Trey and his committee await. I would imagine this president uses a lot of antacid every day. One foreign affairs expert the liberals do not like rated BHO as the greatest threat to our national security. That is most likely the case. Any bets on whether this president makes it to the end of his term without being impeached???
On Another Day, Another Dog
Posted on June 4 at 2:55 p.m.
Hmmm... I worked with Dan Ast's father at the SBSO. Additionally I had minimal contact with Dan before I retired. Fortunately the precedent in cops being wrongfully terminated is that the arbitrator dismisses the charges and orders the employee reinstated with back pay. The City of Santa Maria has a history of failing to comply with the arbitrator and forcing the employee to sue them. So here we have the case of a cocky little motor cop who dishonored the badge by carrying on an illicit sexual relationship with a female explorer scout. My understanding of what really happened that night was that things unfolded quickly and Lt.Rico Flores called the DUI checkpoint troops together and told them the explorer scout was being summoned to the station and that "something was up". All he was supposed to do was send the girl in. That set off a series of texts back and forth between the motor cop and the girl and he was threatening suicide, declaring that "he was not going to prison".The department could not keep up with these communications yet they sent two sergeants out to meet with the motor cop. One was a highly respected negotiator who also was the motor cop's cousin. What happened next no one expected. After the shooting a number of use of force experts were contacted and they too stated they never would have expected the motor cop to pull out his pistol and fire on his fellow officers. Critics have suggested it was a bad plan yet they fail to realize that most cops are armed or have a gun at hand all the time. The SMPD had fallen into a dysfunctional funk at that time. A number of folks believe Dan Ast was wrongfully terminated by an over zealous former LASO commander hired as the new police chief. He wanted to send a message to the Hispanic Community that he meant business. Isn't it interesting that Ast's boss, former commander Craig Ritz reportedly negotiated some type of a deal with the city. Assuming Dan Ast did not formulate this plan, worst case scenario would set the maximum penalty at suspension without pay for a period of time, not termination. I expect Dan Ast to be exonerated and awarded back pay. He will however find it very difficult to return to the SMPD
On Santa Maria Police: Inept or Corrupt?
Posted on June 1 at 5:41 a.m.
I wondered how many days would pass before the Sandra Brown supporters would dare to blame the I.V. tragedy on Sheriff Brown. Sandra Brown is an inexperienced first line supervisor...a sergeant with no experience as a lieutenant, commander of chief. She is simply a line level critic...as in she would have prevented the spontaneous actions of out of town chumps who caused the Deltopia incident. Nonsense! And now her folks are claiming she would have prevented the I.V. tragedy. I doubt she will claim that herself because the deputies will be disgusted. This writer obviously knows nothing about a 5150 W.I. evaluation process and is nothing more than a mean spirited Monday morning quarterback. Tuesday is election day and Sandra Brown will be soundly defeated. The complexities of the Office of Sheriff are way beyond a sergeants level. The SBSO deputies displayed valor and courage in handling the I.V. incident.Yet, in Sandra's last desperate minutes she is having her supporters use this tragedy in an effort to fool voters. Although Bill Brown is too honorable, many of us would like to see him transfer her to Ventucopa on Wednesday morning.
On Accountability for Sheriff's Office
Posted on May 29 at 8:54 a.m.
Fortunately the United States Supreme Court does agree with this writer. California already has some of the most repressive gun laws in the country. Colorado and New York are right behind. These laws, nor even banning guns entirely will never have an effect of violent crime. On the contrary, pro gun states are enacting laws that form a "militia" and every gun owner who can pass a background check can apply to join. With a "well regulated" militia in place the federal government will never be able to abridge gun owners rights. There is a commonality in the psychological profiles of all the mass murder shooting suspects. The government needs to address that. Although the SBSO is not releasing the "horrific" details of how the three young men were killed in the IV shooters apartment, they were not shot. There are a number of emotional reactions posted above...on both sides. Yet, the reality is that gun ownership and membership in the NRA is growing and growing. Two of the legislators who crafted the anti gun legislation in Colorado were recalled from office. More and more Americans want to own guns and are buying them. Look some place else for answers...
On Solitary, Poor, Nasty, Brutish and Short
Posted on May 29 at 8:33 a.m.
Thanks for the memories Barney. I must admit I was puzzled reading comments from folks who said they lived in I.V. and attended UCSB around 1970.They remembered it being so peaceful. Good Grief!! Do not they remember William Kunstler riling up thousands of students who marched into I.V., burned SBSO patrol cars and burned the Bank of America? What followed were subsequent efforts to burn temporary BofA buildings, a young man laying dead in the street and significant property damage. It took the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department SEB Unit to come to town and put an end to the series of civil unrest. It was an ugly time. The reality is that I.V. will never become a city. Unless the university were to work out a deal to annex it will continue to be a huge drain on county tax funds. I guess the university would have to increase tuition or find some other creative funding source to expand it's public safety services. I bet Janet Napolitano can handle this situation...
On Isla Vista: The Unwanted Child
Posted on May 27 at 12:35 a.m.
The NRA is growing in membership each year. That is because more and more Americans want to own a firearm for personal protection. Many politicians are afraid to vote for more gun regulation for fear of losing their seats. California already has some of the most repressive gun laws in the country. Those laws do nothing to prevent crime. In states like Idaho citizens may soon have the opportunity to become members of the state militia. They must pass the same federal background check one goes through to buy a handgun. Yet..they will then be members of a "well regulated militia". This is simply a step to protect law abiding citizens from folks like Michael Bloomberg, Warren Buffet, Meryl Streep, Diane Feinstein and Andrew Cuomo. The NRA is simply an organization of law abiding citizens...few if any commit criminal acts with firearms. The United States Supreme Court has already done an updated evaluation of the 2nd amendment. It is highly unlikely any federal anti gun legislation will be enacted. State laws are a different story. Yet, in Colorado, some of the legislators who initiated new gun legislation there were recalled and booted out of office. That really got the attention of politicians.
On Stand Up to NRA
Posted on May 26 at 9:26 a.m.
I absolutely agree with formersbso. These folks who submit pro Sandra letters are probably nice people. They are simply naïve and have no idea how complex the job of Sheriff is. They talk about her accomplishments as a senior deputy. You have got to be kidding. A two striper?? Now she is one click up. Anyone who knows anything about law enforcement in 2014 knows a sergeant is ill prepared to be Sheriff. Sandra has absolutely no chance of winning this election. Only a few more days to go... Any Sandra supporters who submit comments about this recent I.V. Tragedy should be ashamed of themselves. The voters of this county got to see their Sheriff in action in a very challenging time. There was no doubt he was in charge yet he was very compassionate as well. While Bill Brown was in command of a very complex criminal investigation his challenger was wheeling dead bodies off to the Coroners Office. That is an extreme contrast in duties and responsibilities.
On Vote Sandra Brown for Sheriff
Posted on April 21 at 12:36 p.m.
Bravo Mr. Gilbert. The summary of your letter is the essence of this campaign. Sandra Brown is not qualified to be the Sheriff of Santa Barbara County. The critical element of the next few years for the SBSO is the construction of a north county jail. Citizens should understand two factors: (1) the CA Penal Code mandates the Sheriff to operate a jail...nothing else (2) the State of CA is causing more and more prisoners to remain in the county jail in an effort to save state tax dollars. Bill Brown has made great strides in accomplishing this task. It requires executive level experience far beyond his challenger. It would seem to me that the requirement to at least have a POST Management certificate should be required to run for Sheriff.
On Qualities of a Sheriff
Posted on May 15 at 7:22 p.m.
To Priceless...I have read your comments and realize you share a line level assessment of the Sheriff's Department along with the two candidates being discussed. To ask what other experience a successful sheriff needs other than being in law enforcement is laughable. I have no time to discuss this matter with someone such as yourself. The bottom line is that Bill Brown will easily win re election. That's politics. Bill is very popular with his constituents. Today a big step was taken toward a north county jail. Anyone who does not realize that jail is necessary knows nothing about custody obligations now and in the future. If you or others think the DSA endorsement, or any other cop endorsements is necessary to win...think again. And by the way, what motivated Jim Thomas to run for Sheriff was that John Carpenter had him removed from the Command College. Jim eventually graduated as have perhaps four other members of the department past/present. I certainly am not a dinosaur. I helped Bill oust Jim Anderson and I will help him win re election. This is the science of politics Priceless. I realized that commenting in the Independent would provoke folks like you. Sooo...Adios...I am back on the campaign trail.
On UCSB Police Officer Running for Sheriff