Tag Archives: Sacramento

Sometimes a wrong calls for consequences and not criminalization

Sunday, June 4, around 8:10pm I entered the booking room of Sacramento County Juvenile Hall with a police officer, a good kid, and a load of emotion.  I was doing a Ride-Along in Del Paso Heights with the Sacramento Police Department.  There would be a roll call with an interesting trivia question and an insightful briefing and interactions to prepare officers to patrol.  Once on the beat, we had a couple relatively minor calls with serious situations to those involved but not too serious in general.  Then we joined a call where four people were already detained at an elementary school following an alarm going off.  When we arrived, four young boys sat on the ground as two officers stood nearby and someone resembling a school janitor sat on a bench out of the way with a large set of keys in hand.  Two of the kids appeared to be about the age of my eleven and a half year old son while  the other two could pass for fifteen or sixteen.  The officers were waiting for CSI to come take fingerprints and attempting to get parent information from the boys.  The kids and officers had already been there for a while when I arrived.  The call came in while I was with two officers who did an excellent job of facilitating an unfortunate and potentially volatile situation with a family who was duped into illegally subleasing and facing an imminent eviction.

 

When we arrived, the kids and officers were calm and one of the officers was joking about the sprint the other had to make to corral the kids who apparently ran upon encountering the police officers.  There was also conversation initiated by the officers seemingly to relieve some of the fear and stress the kids might have been experiencing during this moment.  I stood leaning against a pole looking at the kids and flashing back to similar situations I was involved with from my childhood.  I was appreciating the kids were taking the situation serious while also comfortable enough to interact with each other and the officers.  After standing and listening a bit, I actually sat on the ground with them to be on the same physical level as we talked about them, school, friendships, my kids, sports, and more.  Following attempts to confirm guardian information and make contact, eventually officers came over to take each of the boys for separate one-on-one conversations on what happened.

 

From the discussions with the children, the officers gathered that allegedly the boys went into the Library and one of the children (13 year old) purportedly planned to take an iPad but put it back and all of the boys exited the building without removing property.  According to the officers this was a 459 offense which per Wikipedia is, “Burglary…an unlawful entry into a building or other location for the purposes of committing an offence.”  This was explained as a felony.  As a Ride-Along, the officer I accompanied took the time to explain to me what was going on.  The officers were of the thinking that the child was 14 years old versus 13 years old.  I noted the incorrect age and hoped this would be sufficient to have him released to his guardians as there are cases where being fourteen carries more weight than thirteen.  I pled with the officer to have another discussion with his superiors and personally pledged to serve in whatever capacity necessary to support this child during and after this situation with the hopes he would not go to juvenile hall.  The incident and consequence was escalated and determined that the child had to be taken to juvenile hall.

 

My mind was very focused on the damage that was being done in this situation and the innocence of this child.  When I was sitting on the ground speaking with the kids, this child in particular stood out with his manners and willingness to engage with me and the officers.  Whether it was noting that his butt was hurting from the time sitting on the concrete and asking permission to stand, trying to understand whether I was an officer or not since I came with them, asking one of the officers “how long you been growing your mustache?” or pleading with me to say that he looked older than 11 or 12 because he was 13… The kid was a pleasure to be around without coming off as cocky nor dismissive of the gravity of the situation at hand.  This good kid was about to take his first ride in the back of a police car and to be booked in jail for minors.  When the officer asked the child to come talk to him that last time, it was obvious to me that that kid wouldn’t be seeing the others again that night and I got up and followed.  After being told by the officer he was about to be taken away the child was confused, shaken, tearful, and very afraid.  He spoke of his mom and consequences, he explained that he didn’t take anything, and he wanted it understood that he learned his lesson and nothing like this would ever happen again.  Despite his genuine sorrow and all other factors the officer had to take him.

 

To calm this young nervous soul, I interceded and talked him through the situation at hand and reassured him that everything would be okay as best I could in this awful situation.  The child eventually gathered himself and walked to the police car with me as I hugged him with one arm over his shoulders.  We spoke some as we rode and I was able to get phone numbers for parents and make calls.  At juvenile hall he was booked.  Paperwork filed, shoe laces removed, draw sting taken from pants, assessed by the nurse, clothing and personal property taken, and a full body search.  At one point while the officer filled out paperwork, the young man asked, “will they let me have a fidget spinner in here?”  He was sincere and it was obviously a tool of comfort that he sought to help him through whatever was soon to happen.

 

After leaving juvenile hall and returning to the police car, my words to the officer was “This is wrong.  At a time when cities and law enforcement say they want a better relationship with the Black community, this one incident has done far more harm than good.”  This lead to a very respectful, open and constructive conversation.  That conversation does nothing to help the current situation for that young man who was put in jail for that night.  I do expect it to resonate at least a bit when officer is back on his beat again.  The reality is that the officer did a good job of “policing.”  When it comes to the rules and procedures, I’m guessing it will be found that he and the other officers did everything accordingly.  However, I think a process that would lead to a child to being taken to a correctional facility after he took nothing, caused no obvious material damage, was prepared to apologize, and was honest throughout the process- seems to be criminal in itself.

 

Assuming the allegations are correct, my gut says this incident has taught all the kids that when you make a mistake (illegally entered and considered taking something), realize that you’ve done wrong (stop and put it down), and leave the premises that the full weight of the law will be thrown at you.  So run faster next time because you’re likely not to receive justice.  I can hear others countering me with “the kid broke the law and has to deal with the consequences.”  To me, these consequences create an antagonistic if not hostile response to law enforcement.  I also hear those that say, “they pretty much admitted guilt when they tried to run.”  I respect that view might be the case in many neighborhoods or for many others.  I also understand how that can be perceived that way and I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.  I too was likely to run until I was in my twenties and managed to get somewhat established with work and marriage to where my fear of what I could lose weighed heavier than my fear of what the police might do to me.  Living in an upper class neighborhood today versus my childhood, having a personal relationship with the senior police officers in my city and sitting on the Board for the Police Activities League, I still have to check myself and my instincts to flee for my survival or fight for my children at the thought or possible interaction with police.  Simply saying “they” need to learn not to run is counterproductive if you haven’t explored means the individual (police officer) and agencies (law enforcement) can engage with the community long before interaction occurs with the community.  It’s important to establish relationship and trust that can shift hundreds of years of fleeing for safety in these situations.  And there happens to be plenty of images that suggest maybe a Black man’s odds are better if you’re faster versus what might happen if you’re apprehended.

 

At the end of the night, the officer was encouraging me to come on another day to see how things play out.  He thought this incident may not have been a good example to take away.  I let him know this incident and the others we had (which are worth writing about) are exactly why I did the Ride-Along.  I plan to do more and I plan to encourage and expect the same from others in the community.  I let him know that I don’t like the outcome at all because my ultimate goal is to help bring about a positive relationship between law enforcement and the Black community.  This incident didn’t help that goal in my opinion.  I also let him know that I appreciated his listening to some of my tips throughout the day on going beyond just what’s expected to close  a call and look at means to help the person.  I sincerely appreciated his professionalism in his work.

 

My first priority out of this is supporting the young man along his path to success in life.  He was released Monday morning and is home truly facing the consequences of his actions.  He and I have an informal agreement that he’s going to be a future prosecutor.  I’ll be doing more Ride-Alongs.  I’ll be hosting events to bring together law enforcement with citizens who are wary of law enforcement to establish some respect, rapport, and understanding as we look at the ultimate goal of providing better solutions.  There’s many sides to this.  Please get involved and make difference.  There are lots of emotion, good kids and good police officers whom we need to encounter.20170607_030109_1

Technology is abuzz in Greater Sacramento area

I love living in the Sacramento area.  Schools, cost of living, plenty family-oriented activities, tons of outdoor hobbies and interests, bearable traffic, easy access to airport with direct flights to virtually all major hubs, and a great mix of mature and budding technology companies.  Being a geek at heart, the technology piece has me completely excited to roam around the 50 corridor, Downtown/Midtown, through Roseville/Rocklin, and other locations to see how the technology scene is already here and gaining added momentum and maturity everyday.

From my vantage point, core to this speed and maturity has been the Sacramento Regional Technology Alliance or SARTA (@SARTA_Tech).  Under the leadership of Meg Arnold (@MegAtSarta), SARTA carries itself with a “get in where you fit in” attitude that welcomes and accepts anyone ready to contribute to the growth of high tech ventures in the area however direct or distant the effort might be.  Despite running a million miles an hour the SARTA staff manages to stay connected with and considerate of other non-profits in the area that are pushing technology or business interest.

Of those, my absolute favorite is the Hacker Lab (@SacHackerLab).  They refer to themselves as a “coworker and maker space” but the reality it is an innovation mecca.  For all practical purposes, it’s a big shack (former tattoo shop) in midtown with three big garage doors in back.  However, I think there was some amazing voo-doo in the blood that was splattered on the walls that has this place hopping with really good hee-bee-gee-bees.  If you’re an old school ham radio person, new school app developer, staunchy enterprise hardware tester or developer, PC technician, dabbler in code, lover of code, mechanical engineer type, IT manager, user of IT, oscilloscope loving propeller head, or maybe you just like good people and technology- then you owe it to yourself to make a stop by 1715 I Street.

There are many more connections that SARTA brings to the table and it’s much for the locals to be proud of and for businesses in other states to bear witness to.  The biggest complaint that I hear about Sacramento in terms of technology and innovation is that it isn’t San Francisco and the Silicon Valley.  Well no $#!+.  Sorry, I’m kind of sick of hearing that.  Were you to put the tech scenes of New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, DC, Seattle, Bangalore, Tokyo, you name it 100 – 125 miles outside of Silicon Valley, they too would look smallish in comparison.  The only missing ingredient that I can muster is a private institution of higher learning that delivers a great mix of young technologists and liberal artists.  Downtown is coming around too.

That aside, UC Davis does a phenomenal job of keeping fresh talent rotating through with a knack for research, Sac State has no shortage of graduates ready to dive in both testing and development roles, Cal Poly SLO some how manages to send large numbers of its top talent to the area year after year, and we thank Silicon Valley for being Silicon Valley and sending so much tech genius who’ve decided they want to see green stuff growing from the ground, shorten the drive for skiing, easily access bike trails and rivers, row on Lake Natoma, send their kids to great schools without paying tuition, spend more time working than commuting, amongst many other reasons.  Technology is abuzz in the the Greater Sacramento area, the environment is primed for it, and it’s going no place but up- really fast.

 

Fan Experience at Sacramento Kings New Arena

Long Live The Kings is Here To Stay and a new arena is on the way. With that, I’m done with my rhyming and completely excited about the opportunity for the new Kings ownership to provide an amazing basketball and downtown Sacramento experience to fans and the community. Below, I’ve taken a stab at my first dozen fan-facing ideas that I’d like to be considered for leveraging technology to enhance the fan experience at the new arena. I’d love to hear back on ideas above beyond these or how the Sacramento Kings faithful will rate these. And yes, these are currently listed in my order of preference. These ideas are my own, not tested or vetted with any company or group. Though, I’m keenly aware of a company (one of TIBCO’s largest partners) that can facilitate making this all a reality.

Note the list doesn’t list the need for lots of monitors, wifi, where monitors need to be posted, what needs to be on monitors, etc. which I considered a given but don’t let that stop you from re-emphasizing.  I also have a list of to-dos and to-adds for the app of which the top ones are included below.  But there are clearly more.

My Top Dozen for a Savvy Technology Fan Experience

1. Tickets and parking pass barcode via phone
-make it easy like at an airport and less paper
2. Pre-order and pay for food via smartphone/app before walking to concessions
-include in app with appropriate rules/conditions
3. Location-based awareness of walking arena vendors in app
-where vendors are in arena, what they’re selling available via app, and means to identify interest
4. Game-time candids
-photos/videos of sections and suites throughout the gamethat can be searched online using ticket number
5. Suite attendees/guests listed on arena camera/board
-option for every Suite Holder to include names of companies or people in suite via TicketMaster or App
6. Tweetboards in arena and concession stands
-display tweets occurring during game
7. Enable pledges to Kingscares charity of the game
-encourage charities to drive attendance
8. SoMe of the game
-award to fans with most/highest quality SoMe posts during game / Make @Kings top NBA trender
9. Downloadable videos/photos of arena camera during game
-readily available to capture experience of game
10. Best of the game uploadable photos from the crowd
-monitored post-game and made available for others to see at Kings.com
11. Easy access to post-game downtown locations and events
-in-game videos, app updates, etc. of where to go post-game (sell ads)
12. Team and Game Gear Promotions
-targeted promotions during games and ability for fans to pre-order specific items

Oak Ridge HS are the Champs at HP CodeWars 2013 in Roseville

On a beautiful California day at the very beginning of high school swim season and in the midst of high school basketball playoffs, there was a group of high school students huddled at the HP site in Roseville for a different competition- CodeWars.  Oak Ridge HS exited the competition as the clear team to beat going forward as they took first place in the advanced competition and swept the novice competitiion with first, second, and third place. 

CodeWars began at the HP site in Houston 16 years ago and this year was the first time the competition made its way to California thanks to HP Roseville engineer, Ken Duisenberg and loads of HP volunteers.  CodeWars is a team competition with up to three members per team using their brain power to solve problems and earn points for correctly solving  problems.  The problems have a range of difficulty of which few points are given for the easier variety and many points are given for the extremely difficult ones.  However, the competition is time bound and teams must take a strategy that allows them to maximize points within the time they have.  Thus, attacking a very difficult problem but not successfully solving it could leave a team with no points.  See sample problems here  http://www.hpcodewars.org/index.php?page=samples.

Second place for the advanced competition went to Mira Loma HS and third place went to Mira Costa HS.  Mira Costa HS is in Manhattan Beach, CA.  Yes, a young man and his dad, Phil Anthony, made the long trip to get this opportunity because there is not enough of these types of challenges to engage kids in critical thinking and application of computer concepts.  Equally impressive was a team of eighth graders from Cooley Middle School in Roseville who came to take on the big kids.  And in an age where boys continue to convincingly outnumber girls in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) pursuits, it was great to see Aimee Staats bring two teams from St. Francis HS to compete.  The dedication of the Oak Ridge team was met by their sponsor, Mrs. Stephanie Allen, who sat in the lobby grading her classroom assignments while the students were in the midst of competition.

The lack of programming classes and challenges was a common concern amongst the parents in attendance and CodeWars was an excellent first step that they look forward to next year on the first Saturday in March- March 1, 2014.  Next year it’s expected that the number of schools participating will grow beyond the 16 from this year and HP will be filling their large cafeteria instead of the large conference room in order to hold everyone.  Luckily for some of the students their schools have adopted AP Computer Science though this is the first year for several of the programs.  In speaking with the winners and parents of the advanced competition, it appears that a few dads taking the initiative to pull together kids in their communities to work on robotics is what introduced them to programming and leveraging critical thinking to solve complex problems.

Schools represented included Casa Roble High School, Colfax High School, Cooley Middle School, Cornerstone Christian School, Del Oro High School, El Camino High School, Ghidotti High School, Granite Bay High School, Mira Costa High School, Mira Loma High School, Natomas High School, Oak Ridge High School, Placer High School, Rocklin High School, Roseville High School, and  St. Francis High School.