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Community Outreach is a fundamental part of the Department of Justice’s comprehensive approach to fighting crime and protecting and defending the rights and interests of the residents of the Central District. In a District as diverse and multi-faceted as the Central District, community outreach takes many different forms, ranging from Department of Justice driven programs and grants, to public efforts such as community meetings and events, listening tours, training and education, both formal and informal.
In all of these efforts, the United States Attorney’s goal is to listen, to learn, and to educate, in order to better achieve the overall mission of the office and the Department of Justice.
The person responsible for facilitating and coordinating community outreach for the Central District is Tracy Webb, Director of External Affairs. Ms. Webb can be reached with inquiries by email at email@example.com
or by mail addressed to:
Director of External Affairs
United States Attorney’s Office - Central District of California (Los Angeles)
312 North Spring Street - 1200 United States Courthouse
Los Angeles, CA 90012
The 2nd Annual California Opioid Policy Summit was held in San Diego, California, hosted by the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of California. Acting US Attorney Sandra R. Brown moderated a panel titled “Law Enforcement: Effective Use of Cutting Edge Analytics and Innovative Partnerships to Investigate Drug Diversion and Bad Actors.” The panelists included AUSA Benjamin Barron as well as San Diego Deputy AUSA Mark Conover, and US Attorney Phil Talbert, from the Eastern District of California, who presented on tools and strategies in targeting corrupt pharmacies engaged in opioid diversion and related health care fraud. The panel further addressed a range of other topics, including trends in the illicit sale of synthetic opioids and the DOJ’s recent creation of the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit.
Five AUSAs, along with many law enforcement partners, were honored in Washington D.C. with the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Furthering the Interests of U.S. National Security for being part of the federal team that responded to the San Bernardino terrorist attack. Many AUSAs and staff in this office contributed significantly to the response.
The AUSAs receiving the Attorney General’s Award from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein were: Patrick R. Fitzgerald, Chief of the National Security Division; Christopher D. Grigg, Chief of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section; Deirdre Z. Eliot of the Santa Ana Branch Office; Melanie A. Hanson, of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section and Jay H. Robinson of the Riverside Branch Office. Congratulations to all!
AUSAs and staff participated in the DEA’s 14th Prescription Take-Back Day – an opportunity to turn in unused or expired prescription medications for safe disposal. Law enforcement agencies and businesses around the district got involved at collection sites throughout the region.
This event collected a record number of unused and potentially dangerous prescription drugs. In total, with the help of over 4,200 local and tribal law enforcement partners, a record-setting 912,305 pounds – that translates to 456 TONS of expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs were collected from over 5,300 collection sites around the nation.
According to the DEA, the initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Helping people to dispose of potentially harmful prescription drugs is just one way the USAO and the DEA are working to reduce the addiction and overdose deaths plaguing this country due to opioid medications.
IRS-CI held its Inaugural Awards ceremony to honor many AUSAs and staff who have contributed by outstanding assistance and support to the investigation and prosecution of IRS Criminal Investigation cases this past year and in recognition of the integrity, commitment, and outstanding service provided to IRS Criminal Investigation and the people of the United States of America
Special Agent in Charge R. Damon Rowe presented the awards to AUSA Monica Tait, AUSA Ranee Katzenstein, AUSA Robert Conte, AUSA Poonam Kumar, AUSA Charles Parker, AUSA Jennifer Weinhold, AUSA Damaris Diaz, AUSA Lindsey Dotson, AUSA Charles Pell, AUSA Ruth Pinkel, AUSA Benjamin Barron, AUSA James Hughes, AUSA Christopher Kendall, AUSA Valerie Makarewicz, AUSA Matthew O’Brien, AUSA Ryan Weinstein, DEA Diversion Investigator Kevin Buntrock, AUSA Chris Brunwin, AUSA Carol Chen, AUSA Vicki Chou, Paralegal Isa Ascencio, Paralegal Gemma Flores, Paralegal Judee Guzman, AUSA Steven Welk, Senior Paralegal Tina Keleshyan, AUSA Will Rollins, AUSA Ann Wolf, AUSA Vibhav Mattal, AUSA Joseph McNally, AUSA Paul Rochmes, AUSA Cassie Palmer, AUSA Kristen Williams, and AUSA Cathy Ostiller. Congratulations to all the worthy recipients from the Central District of California.
Since 2013, USAO staff have assisted with home renovation projects for low-income and/or disabled individuals through Rebuilding Together. Rebuilding Together is part of the 2017 Make a Difference Day. AUSAs and staff, including Kim Meyer, Ashwin Janakiram, Jehan Pernas, and Andrea Caston spent a day helping paint the exterior of a mobile home for a Long Beach resident.
As part of the office’s participation in Red Ribbon Week this year, AUSA Ben Barron spoke to elementary school students at St Andrew Elementary School about the dangers of drug use. The theme of this year’s events was “Your Future is Key so Stay Drug Free.” Since its beginning in 1985, the Red Ribbon campaign has touched the lives of millions of people around the world. In response to the murder of DEA Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, parents and youth in communities across the country began wearing Red Ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the killing and destruction cause by drugs in America.
Today, the Red Ribbon serves as a catalyst to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities.
AUSA Monica Tait and Victim Witness Assistant Amybeth Lake attended a Senior Fraud Forum along with experts on how to prevent senior fraud. The event was co-sponsored by our office along with the District Attorney, the U.S. Postal Inspector, LAPD, the Federal Trade Commission and community organizations. In addition to the presentations on how seniors can protect themselves from fraud the day held exhibits on fraud prevention. At the event, Amybeth Lake was presented with a Certificate of Recognition from the City of Los Angeles for her work with victims of fraud.
The Office collaborated with the FBI, the Los Angeles City Attorney, ICAN, LAPD and other community and law enforcement organizations to host the 9th Annual Cyber Crime Prevention Symposium. The event presents a wide variety of cyber related topics to middle and high school students, parents and educators including Internet safety, child exploitation, cyber bullying, the implications of digital communication on teen health, digital reputation, navigating peer pressure, social media, sexting, and sextortion, among other topics.
This year’s Symposium featured a youth panel presentation on social media, a SnapChat geotag and a special surprise appearance during the lunch break by the celebrity stars of the Disney television show Bizaardvark. Participants from the Office include Cyber Task Force Co-Chairs AUSA Lisa Feldman and Tracy Webb along with Task Force member AUSA Jennie Wang and presenters AUSAs Anil Antony and David Kowal from the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes section.
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the office sponsored a lunchtime event featuring a distinguished panel of bench officers who shared their experience and insight on a variety of issues including a discussion of the Mendez, et al v. Westminster School District of Orange County case that that challenged racial segregation in the school system in Orange County. The panel featured Former Ambassador Carlos Moreno, and former office alums Judge Peter A. Hernandez and Judge Yvette M. Palazuelos. AUSAs Reema El-Amamy and Elisa Fernandez, who also served as moderator of the interesting panel, planned the well-attended event.
AUSAs and office staff participated in National Coffee with a Cop day this year. Created by Hawthorne Police Department in 2011, Coffee with a Cop is an opportunity for police officers and residents to enjoy a cup of coffee, learn about each other, form bonds and build vital community relationships that help weave the fabric of a better community. AUSAs attended events in Vernon, LAUSD School Police in West LA, Inglewood and Rancho Santa Margarita.
The Office participated again this year in the Operation School Bell outreach program with the Los Angeles Unified School District. Acting U. S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown along with ASUAs Justin Rhoades, Chief of the Violent and Organized Crime Section, Executive Assistant United States Attorney Tracy Wilkison, Law Enforcement Coordinator David Cons and Director of External Affairs Tracy Webb spent the morning at the YES Academy in South Los Angeles with officers from LAPD 77th Division distributing new shoes, backpacks, school supplies and school uniforms to the elementary school children.
In commemoration of LGBTQ Heritage Month, the office sponsored an interesting and compelling discussion of recent legal developments and the many challenges facing LGBTQ youth. We had the pleasure of hosting M. Currey Cook from Lambda Legal and LAPD Assistant Chief Bea Girmala for this lunchtime event, moderated by AUSA Susan DeWitt.
For the second year in a row, USAO AUSAs and staff attended the annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Night at Dodger Stadium. This is the Dodgers opportunity to salute local, state and federal law enforcement personnel. Acting United States Attorney Sandra Brown was honored on the field along with LAPD Chief Beck, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnel, CHP Chief Chris O’Quinn and others, including Duke the LASD explosives canine officer.
The 16th Annual USAO Law Enforcement Awards ceremony was held at LAPD Deaton Hall honoring the dedicated work of 280 of our law enforcement partners. Agents and law enforcement officers representing 26 federal agencies and 17 state and local departments were honored in this year’s ceremony.
LAPD Color Guard began the ceremony this year followed by a patriotic presentation by the LAPD Pipe and Drum Corps. Acting USA Sandra Brown and Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala gave welcoming remarks. Our congratulations to all the awardees.
This month the Office recognized Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and hosted a panel discussion on “The L.A. Riots: 25 Years Later.” To commemorate the significant impact that the riots had on the AAPI community, the office hosted a panel discussion moderated by AUSA Puneet Kakkar. The distinguished panel included Professor Edward Chang from UC Riverside, who studied the impact of the riots on the AAPI community and Angela Oh, an attorney and activist who served as the spokesperson for the Korean American community during the L.A. riots and subsequently served as Special Counsel to the California Assembly Special Committee on the L.A. riots.
The discussion explored the impact that the riots and their aftermath had on the growing AAPI community and examined the role that history plays in shaping the AAPI community’s role in Los Angeles today. The well-attended event included delicious Chinese refreshments.
Many thanks go to AUSAs Diana Kwok and Puneet Kakkar for exemplary planning and perfect execution of the event.
AUSAs Reema El-Amamy, Ben Barron, Chris Kendall, Jamie Lang, Aron Ketchel, Alexander Schwab, Ryan White, and Joe Axelrad participated this year in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office Project LEAD. Project LEAD is a law-related education program established by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in partnership with the Constitutional Rights Foundation. Prosecutors volunteer to teach 5th graders that the choices they make today can affect their lives forever.
Since its inception in 1993, Project LEAD has touched the lives of tens of thousands of students in public schools throughout Los Angeles County. It also has been replicated in several other states and foreign countries. Project LEAD teaches students about our government, the criminal justice system, techniques for resolving conflict and resisting peer pressure. The lessons promote tolerance and respect for diversity, the role of education in achieving economic stability, the financial benefits of staying in school and acquaints students with basic household budgeting. The program concludes with students performing a mock trial, this year in Judge Gutierrez’s court, putting into practice what they have learned about the criminal justice system. This year the mock trial focused on gun possession and the AUSAs said the students did a remarkable job. The program ended with a pizza party and an opportunity for the kids to meet and ask questions of Acting USA Brown and a DEA agent.
May 14-20 this year marked 2017 National Police Week. In acknowledgement of Police Week, Acting USA Sandra Brown, along with LEC David Cons and Director of External Affairs Tracy Webb, traveled to Ventura and Santa Barbara counties to participate in local ceremonies commemorating those who serve to make our communities safer, especially those who have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. They attended the Ventura County Peace Officers Memorial event and the Santa Barbara Police Department Ceremonial Badge Pinning ceremony as well as meeting with the Ventura and Santa Barbara County Sheriffs and the Santa Barbara District Attorney.
The Office commemorated Denim Day this year in the Central District. For the past 18 years, the Denim Day campaign has been one of the national hallmarks of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Each April, our office along with community members, businesses, students and government officials makes a social statement by wearing jeans as a visible sign of support for the victims of sexual violence.
Historically, a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court originally triggered the campaign where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. Enraged by the verdict, within a matter of hours the women in the Italian Parliament launched into immediate action and protested by wearing jeans to work. This call to action motivated and emboldened the California Senate and Assembly and Denim Day was born.
Over the years, Denim Day has helped raise awareness about the misconceptions surrounding sexual assault, as well as methods for preventing violence and resources available to victims. Last year, well over a million people across the United States participated in Denim Day. This year the USAO for the Central District did its part.
This year the Office turned out in force to supported the LA County Bar Association’s Dialogues on Freedom program. Dialogues on Freedom engages high school students in lively debates on freedom, civil liberties and the American system of government in commemoration of Law Day in our country. United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy founded Dialogues on Freedom in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The program partners judges with lawyers to facilitate discussions in High Schools throughout Los Angeles regarding broad topics relating to constitutional rights and privacy/civil rights issues. There are no right or wrong answers, the goal is to get students thinking about these important issues and engaging in critical analysis. The facilitators use situation-based scenarios that are relevant to the students’ daily lives at home and school to challenge them to examine and discuss their perspectives on the balance of personal freedom versus security from crime. They explore American civil values and traditions, and help students understand how the values and concepts of freedom, law, and justice make each of them individually "American." This year, over a dozen AUSAs participated in schools around the district including Jennifer Chou, Cathy Ostiller, Elisa Fernandez, Monica Tait, Veronica Alegria, Amanda Bettinelli, Jonathan Galatzan, Geoff Wilson, Karen Ruckert, Catherine Ahn, Susan DeWitt and Tim Laske.
As part of our ongoing community outreach in cyber safety, AUSA Lisa Feldman and Director of External Affairs Tracy Webb conducted a series of cyber-crime presentations at two elementary schools in Compton. Coordinated by AUSA Susan Dewitt as part of the Violence Reduction Network (VRN) in Compton, Lisa and Tracy provided a dynamic presentation on digital reputation, Internet predators, cyber safety and digital citizenship to 4th through 7th graders.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals celebrated Law Day 2017 in the Central District of California. Acting United States Attorney Sandra R. Brown, along with AUSAs Susan DeWitt and Amanda Bettinelli, attended the event that included high school students from around the district and focused on the topic of “Not to be Forgotten - Legal Lessons of the Japanese Internment.”
The event featured opening remarks by the Honorable Sandra R. Klein, a former Assistant United States Attorney in the Central Distict, nd a panel discussion moderated by the Honorable Jon R. Takasugi of the Los Angeles Superior Court. The panel featured the Honorable A. Wallace Tashima of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Patricia Kinaga, managing partner at LTL Attorneys; and Gary Miyatake, a photographer who shared photos he had taken while interned at Manzanar.
After the informative panel discussion, participants engaged in lively and interesting discussions with the students on a wide variety of topics. Discussion topics included conversations about what judges and attorneys do within the justice system, the meaning of the phrase “Equal Justice for All” engraved on the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington D.C., and how the three branches of our U.S. government work.
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week was commemorated this year with various events around the region. Sponsored by the Office for Victims of Crime, the week is designed to raise awareness about victims of crime, victimization in the United States, specific types of crime and crime trends.
As part of this recognition, Acting United States Attorney Sandra Brown, along with AUSA and Chief of the National Security Division Patrick Fitzgerald, Law Enforcement Coordinator David Cons and Victim Witness Specialist Allison Stafford attended the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Memorial event. Held at the San Bernardino County Government Center Rotunda, the day focused on victims of crime and served as a time to celebrate our nation’s progress in serving those victims.
Fighting for victims is important every day of the year, but this week offered an opportunity to raise awareness in support of victims’ rights and to show victims that we care about their losses and that we realize their pain is something that lasts an eternity. It also reminds us all why we seek justice for victims of crime.
The week was further commemorated in Los Angeles with the “Recognition Walk – Helping Victims Become Survivors” sponsored by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office – Bureau of Victim Services. Law Enforcement Coordinator David Cons, Victim Specialist Allison Stafford and Director of External Affairs Tracy Webb attending the event on behalf of the Office.
The Anti-Defamation League awarded its 2017 Helene and Joseph Sherwood Prize for Combating Hate to the law enforcement team on the international terrorism investigation and prosecution in Orange County for United States v. Nader Elhuzayel and Muhanad Badawi. Assistant United States Attorneys Deirdre Eliot, Judith Heinz and Julius Nam along with paralegal Lee Paige were awarded the coveted award at the Above and Beyond Law Enforcement Awards ceremony. The award honors those law enforcement professionals who are so committed to their work that they make a significant difference in their communities and serve as role models for their departments. The team was recognized for their “relentless dedication to containing and minimizing the prevalence and severity of hate motivated behavior…. using innovative approaches to enforce or prosecute hate crime laws.” Congratulations to the team.
On March 2 the Office joined in the nationwide celebration of Read Across America. Law Enforcement Coordinator David Cons and Director of External Affairs Tracy Webb joined law enforcement, prosecutors and community leaders to commemorate the 113th birthday of Dr. Seuss. David and Tracy read Dr. Seuss books to the children of Wadsworth Elementary School.
On Thursday, February 16, the Federal Bar Association’s Inland Empire chapter recognized AUSA Joseph Widman as the outgoing president of the chapter. Congratulations to Joe on a job well-done.
The Office celebrated African American History Month with a lunchtime discussion on Journeys to the Court. The panel discussion was moderated by United States Magistrate Judge Karen L. Stevenson. The inspiring panel featured:
- Hon. Terry J. Hatter, Jr., United States District Judge for the Central District of California since 1979, who served as Chief Judge from 1998-2001 and who, prior to his appointment to the federal bench, served in a variety of roles, including, but not limited to, as an Assistant Public Defender, an Assistant United States Attorney, a law professor, and a Superior Court Judge;
- Hon. Consuelo B. Marshall, United States District Judge for the Central District of California since 1980, who served as Chief Judge from 2001-2005, and who, prior to her appointment to the federal bench, served as a Deputy City Attorney, Municipal Court Judge, and a Superior Court Judge;
- Justice Lamar W. Baker of the California Court of Appeal, who served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Central District of California from 2005-10 and who, prior to his appointment to the bench, held various positions with the Department of Justice, including as a legal advisor to President Obama, as well as Special Assistant and Associate Counsel to President Obama at the White House; and
- Kiry K. Gray, who has served the Federal Court with distinction for more than 30 years, and, in 2015, became the first African-American woman to be named clerk of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
On Friday, January 27, the Office celebrated 50 years as the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California with a reception in the atrium lobby of the new United States Courthouse. Over 400 judges, law enforcement guests, Office alumni, and current Office members attended.
KNBC News anchor Colleen Williams served as the master of ceremonies for the event which honored former United States Attorneys (most of whom were in attendance), AUSA Steve Wolfe for his 32 years of service, and Elaine Wong for her 45 years of service to the United States. Steve and Elaine each received a certificate and letter signed by all of the former United States Attorneys in attendance. The TSA chorus performed, and a video retrospective of the past 50 years of the United States Attorney’s office was shown.
8th Annual Cyber Crime Prevention Symposium
The United States Attorney’s Office co-hosted the eighth annual Cyber Crime Prevention Symposium for middle and high school students, teachers, administrators, and parents in November. This unique Symposium provides training and age appropriate workshops conducted by law enforcement and community experts on cyber safety, including child exploitation, cyber bullying, sexting, sextortion, malware and digital reputation. This year’s Symposium featured an exciting video welcome featuring US Attorney Decker along with FBI Assistant Director in Charge Deidre Fike, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer; District Attorney Jackie Lacey.; ICAN Executive Director Deanne Tilton Durfee, José Horacio Gómez, the Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell and Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. In addition, Task Force partner Disney Television surprised the students with two stars from current Disney shows to share their stories on cyber safety and citizenship.
Law Enforcement Awards
For the 15th year in a row, the office was honored to host the Law Enforcement Awards ceremony for the Central District in October. This is our annual opportunity to say thank you and pay tribute to the many men and women of law enforcement who are dedicated and work tirelessly on behalf of the United States of America. This year the ceremony honored 301 recipients and the ceremony featured opening songs by the Transportation Safety Administration chorus in honor of their service and the tremendous loss of TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez killed by the LAX shooter in 2013.
Cyber Security Summit
As part of Cyber Security Awareness Month in October, the office held a Cyber Security Summit in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the University of Southern California, the Lares Institute, and the National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance. Top officials from utilities/critical infrastructure, local government, banking, the motion picture industry, the software industry, universities and law enforcement were in attendance at the Summit. The Summit offered information on new and developing cyber threats, preventing cyber-attacks, and recognizing and remediating attacks when they occur. Attendees also participated in “table top” exercises in which participants analyze a cyber-attack, reflected on preparedness, and discussed the benefits of sharing data with law enforcement.
The Summit featured expert speakers on cyber intrusions and included an FBI briefing on the current threats to inform them of the most recent types of cyber-attacks and defenses to those types of attacks.
The perspective of the business community was represented by executives from Ernst & Young, Target Corporation, IBM and Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Hispanic Heritage Month
In late October, the Office commemorated National Hispanic Heritage Month. The Office hosted an all-star panel from the legal profession – United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez, Antonia Hernández, CEO of the California Community Foundation, Irma Rodríguez Moisa, Senior Partner at Atkinson, Anderson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, and Office alum Rod Castro-Silva, Senior Assistant County Counsel at the LA County Counsel.
USA Decker made the introductions, and Executive AUSA Wes Hsu moderated an interesting and informative panel discussion. The panelists each shared their experiences in the legal profession and encouraged audience members to contribute to their community. A large audience enjoyed Porto’s snacks at the lunch hour event.
Community Policing Week
As part of the Department of Justice’s commitment to building stronger relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve, the Office participated in over 14 events in support of community policing efforts around the country.
Community policing is a public safety philosophy based on partnership and cooperation between law enforcement and the communities that they are sworn to protect. At the center of community policing is the idea that all members of the community, both officer and civilian, have a stake in the safety of their neighborhoods where they live and work.
In keeping with President Obama’s designation of the week of Oct. 2-8, 2016, as National Community Policing Week, the U.S. Attorney and many Assistant United States’ Attorneys participated in a wide variety of events in communities around the region. From community fairs and “coffee with a cop” events, to read alongs and training presentations, this week was an opportunity for members of the office to be out in the community around the district, building relationships and continuing to open dialogues.
National Community Policing Week builds on President Obama’s efforts to engage with law enforcement and other members of the community to implement key recommendations from the 21st Century Policing Task Force report.
Heroin and Opioid Awareness Campaign
As part of the Department of Justice program addressing the issue of Heroin and Opioid abuse, the office launched an awareness campaign to coordinating educational outreach efforts at colleges throughout the Central District. The programs will educate college students on prescription drug abuse, including explaining what opiate prescription drugs are, the dangers they pose, the particular dangers posed by drug counterfeiting, and what to do in the event of a potential overdose.
The FBI video “Chasing the Dragon” will be incorporated into the presentations to help illustrate the real life issues presented. The presentation will be supplemented with a panel presentation by a medical doctor, FBI and/or DEA Special Agents and a local law enforcement officer.
Mass Casualty Training
In September, the office hosted a day-long training to bring together first responders and experts to provide their insights on last year’s terrorist attack in San Bernardino and important lessons learned that can be applied to other large-scale incidents. With a focus on the San Bernardino terror attacks of December 2, 2015 as the primary case study, the training featured presentations on the incident response and discussions on better serving the victim population after a large-scale event. The event examined the lessons learned from the coordinated response by first responders, the variety of issues that the victims will face, the need for victim-support teams, and how the victim-support teams can be most effective in their unique roles.
National Night Out
National Night Out in August is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. National Night Out has the goal of enhancing the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community and provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances. This year, USA Decker and the External Affairs team spent the evening with the Pasadena Police Department. During the evening, Chief Sanchez hosted a tour of various Pasadena neighborhood events all designed to bolster the partnerships and good will between law enforcement and the community they serve.
Summer Night Lights
2016 marked the 5th year that the USAO-CAC staff participated in the City of Los Angeles Summer Night Lights (SNL) Program. SNL is a program sponsored by the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction & Youth Development (GRYD) as part of the City of Los Angeles continued violence reduction efforts. The program is implemented across 32 Recreation & Parks sites in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley and provides a safe space for local youth and their families by providing free meals, arts and crafts activities, and organized sports for all to enjoy during the summer months. This year USAOCAC Staff volunteered at the Highland Park Recreation Center in Northeast Los Angeles and the Jim Gilliam Recreation Center in South Los Angeles. The USAOCAC volunteers assisted with nightly program activities including serving up Ice Cream sundaes for the community to enjoy.
LGBT Pride Month event
The Central District of California Federal Family sponsored an event during the summer celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month with a brown bag lunch featuring Chief Judge Virginia A. Phillips. After an introduction by USA Decker, Judge Phillips spoke to the capacity crowd about her groundbreaking decision in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States et al., in which she held the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy to be unconstitutional.
Attorney General Visit to Los Angeles
In June, the Office planned and coordinated United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s last leg of her National Community Policing Tour. Specifically, her visit highlighted the recommendations set forth in the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing report – addressing the third pillar - Technology & Social Media. The two-day trip highlighted the advances and contributions by local law enforcement partners to this endeavor.
One of the hallmarks of Attorney General Lynch’s tour to Los Angeles was the implementation of a “Virtual Ride Along” (VRA) hosted in partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). The VRA allowed community members to utilize social media outlets Twitter and Facebook to witness in real time the Attorney General’s tour and interact with her via those social media platforms. The visit included touring the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) Real Time Analysis & Critical Response Division (RACR) and viewing first-hand how the use of technology further provides situational awareness and deployment of law enforcement resources. The use of technology and social media is also being utilized to further strengthen community relations and provide real time updates to the community on varying issues. Over the course of two days, Attorney General Lynch met with local law enforcement partners, community members and local area youth to discuss police - community relations and efforts implemented to maintain and strengthen the ties between community and law enforcement. The tour concluded with a Facebook Live Event at the Los Angeles home of Facebook in Playa Vista hosted by Attorney General Lynch and actor Michael B. Jordan that further emphasized the use of various policing strategies and innovative resolutions to build mutual respect and coordination between law enforcement and members of the community.
Asian Pacific Heritage Month
Asian Pacific Heritage Month was celebrated in the Office on June 15th with a well-attended panel discussion on issues facing the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community sponsored by the USAO-CAC Diversity Committee. After an introduction by USA Eileen Decker, Executive AUSA Wes Hsu moderated an interesting panel discussion.
The panel featured Commander Blake Chow from LAPD, Manjusha Kulkarni, the immediate past Executive Director of the South Asian Network, Stewart Kwoh, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and Carol Lin from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The panel provided fascinating background on issues facing the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community from the law enforcement and community perspectives, and one of the many highlights of the discussion was Carol Lin making the point that AUSA’s are the “super heroes” for our community.
Law Day 2016
The Office participated in Law Day 2016, a commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona. AUSA Lawrence S. Middleton, Chief of the Criminal Division, was joined by Federal Public Defender Hilary Potashner to discuss the current impacts of Miranda on federal criminal cases. The event also featured remarks from Loyola Law School Professor and Office alum Laurie Levenson and Captain Carroll Cooley who investigated and arrested Ernesto Miranda.
National Rebuilding Day
Office staff Anne Gannon, Ashwin Janakirm, Monica Morales-Guzman, Shaton McDaniel and organizer Erik Silber participated in National Rebuilding Day by helping to paint a mobile home in Orange County for owners that could not accomplish it themselves. The sacrifice of these AUSAs and staff members’ personal time for this charitable cause is a testament to their amazing character and true dedication to public service.
The office participated in Denim Day this year in support of victims of sexual assault. Since 1999, the Denim Day campaign has been one of the national hallmarks of Sexual Assault Awareness Month each April. It has helped raise awareness about the misconceptions surrounding sexual assault, as well as methods for preventing violence and resources available to victims. Denim Day was originally established 1999 when an Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because the victim wore tight jeans. The court concluded that the victim must have helped her attacker remove her jeans, from which they inferred consent. Within hours, the women of the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans to work, and later that year the first Denim Day event was organized. On Denim Day, those who wear denim stand united in support of survivors of sexual violence and wear jeans to underscore that this type of violence is unacceptable and should never be tolerated.
National Victim's Rights Week
The Office commemorated National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a time to honor crime victims, the surviving families of homicide victims, and those who work directly to assist victims of crime. This year, the theme for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week was "Serving Victims. Building Trust. Restoring Hope.” The theme underscored the importance of early intervention and victim services in establishing trust with victims, which in turn begins to restore their hope for healing and recovery. In honor of crime victims, the Office participated in a special memorial at the San Bernardino County Government Center Rotunda organized by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office. The memorial featured the Redlands East Valley Choir. The singers performed in honor of the county’s fallen victims. During the memorial, the District Attorney’s Office presented the Award for Exemplary Service to Victims of Crime to Rose Madsen of Family and Friends of Murder Victims. A bagpipe tribute was held beside the bronze “Officer Down” statue in honor of San Bernardino County’s fallen officers.
Baker to Vegas
The United States Attorney’s Office ran in the Baker to Vegas Law Enforcement Relay Race and “mugged” (finishing in the top half of our division). Despite suffering an early injury to a runner, the office team finished ahead of teams from the FBI, LAPD, and LASD! Congratulations to Geoff Wilson, Nathan Nguyen, Terrence Mann, Brandon Fox, Collin Duffy, David Harris, Joe Widman, Stacey Fernandez, Billy Essayli, Steve Cazares, Rebecca Evans, Isa Ascencio, Vicki Chou, Vib Mittal, Garrett Coyle, Mark Solte, Puneet Kakkar, Luis Alarcon, Jamie Lang, Jonathan Galatzan, Beth Stratton, Chris Park, George Cardona, Aliah Cadena, Shaton McDaniel, Dominic Wells, Nellie Yu, Greg Scally, and Chris Ferrer for running, supporting the team, or both!
Anti-Defamation League Helene & Joseph Sherwood Prize for Combatting Hate
The Anti-Defamation League awarded its coveted Helene & Joseph Sherwood Prize for Combating Hate to the law enforcement entities who responded to the San Bernardino terrorist attack. The United States Attorney’s Office was one of the entities recognized with the award. More than 100 Assistant United States Attorneys and staff contributed to the response to San Bernardino.
Assistant United States Attorney Sworn in as President of the Federal Bar Association's Inland Empire Chapter
On February 25, 2016, Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Widman, Chief of the Riverside Branch Office, was sworn in as the President of the Federal Bar Association's Inland Empire chapter. Congratulations to AUSA Widman, and best wishes for a productive and successful year.
African American Heritage Month
In partnership with the Federal Public Defender’s Office, the office held a special event to commemorate African American Heritage month in January. The lunchtime event was standing room only and featured inspirational words from the Honorable Otis D. Wright II, the Honorable Karen L. Stevens and former United States Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. Each offered their perspectives on how diversity in the legal profession affected their careers.
On October 24, 2015, several members of the US Attorney's Office converged in Long Beach to participate in Make a Difference Day 2015. This remarkable group volunteered for Rebuilding Together Long Beach and, along with HOPE (Home Ownership for Personal Empowerment), the Surfrider Foundation and Long Beach Water Department, planted drought-tolerant and ocean-friendly landscaping at low-income housing in Long Beach.
On September 25, 2015, volunteers from the U.S. Attorney’s Office participated in the Annual YMCA Stair Climb in Los Angeles. These intrepid athletes climbed 1,664 steps (75 stories) to support subsidized program participation for children, teens, families, and seniors in some of the most under-resourced neighborhoods in the City of Los Angeles.