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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 Communication & Public Affairs. Ms. Webb can be reached with inquiries by email at email@example.com
or by mail addressed to:
Director of Community & Law Enforcement Outreach
United States Attorney’s Office - Central District of California (Los Angeles)
312 North Spring Street - 1200 United States Courthouse
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Another Baker to Vegas run is in the books and AUSA Kal Shobaki led the team of hard-charging USAO employees. We had two squads this year. The Fast Squad finished with a pace of 7:59 m/mile, our fastest time ever. We moved up in the overall rankings from 81 last year to 49, and more importantly, finished in 3rd place out of 40 in the Invitational Mixed category. We are officially the fastest lawyers at Baker to Vegas!
The Fun Squad also bettered its performance from last year by one spot, ranking 262, with our own EAUSA Steph Christensen bringing it home on the final glory leg. Out of the total of 8,000 runners this year, our USAO team included Chris Park, Julia Choe, Chris Ferrer, Lety Zambrano, Shaton McDaniels, Rebecca Evans, Joshua Mausner, Lani Ealba, Veronica Alegria, Ashwin Janakiram, Roger Hsieh, Bryant Yang, Tammi Loveland, Greg Scally, Kerry Quinn, Patrick Castaneda, Carolyn Small, Najah Shariff, Tom Rybarczyk, Kyle Ryan, Joe Widman, Ben Balding, Will Rollins, Ian Yanniello, Jehan Pernas, Catherine Ahn, Luis Alarcon, Timothy Biche, Vib Mittal, Joseph Darrow, Paul LeBlanc, Joseph Woodring, Gabriel Podesta, George Pence, Robert Trisotto, Vicki Chou, and a few colleagues from SDCA and Office alums.
Congratulations to all who participated this year.
On March 15, the Office participated in the Constitutional Rights Foundation/ Los Angeles County Bar Association Dialogues on Freedom event. Each year, the program develops, promotes, and administers discussions in high school classrooms throughout Los Angeles County on the constitutional civil liberties and values fundamental to our American system of government. This year we attended the program at Burbank High School. AUSA Gavin Greene covered two scenarios dealing with hate speech and another about whether police could search a hotel room that was being used for an after-prom party without a warrant.
On March 13, the Office, along with the FBI and South Pasadena Police Department, hosted a day-long training on Preventing & Investigating Transnational and Other Scams Targeting Older Adults. Sixty-five local law enforcement agencies attended the training that highlighted scams that target elders. U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna focused the group on the insidious nature of elder fraud. Attendees also heard from AUSA and Elder Fraud Coordinator Monica Tait and AUSA Lisa Feldman along with FBI Victim Service Specialist Debbie Deem and representatives from the FTC, FBI’s IC3, Citibank and Western Union and a panel of recent fraud victims. As a follow-up, the Office will hold a training for community members this Summer.
On March 1, AUSAs and staff from the Santa Ana Branch office, along with LEC David Cons and Director of Community & Law Enforcement Outreach Tracy Webb, joined this year’s nationwide celebration of Read Across America with elementary students from Garfield Elementary School in Santa Ana. This year commemorated the 114th birthday of Dr. Seuss with law enforcement from across the region reading books by the famed author to first through fifth grade students.
On February 21, the Office commemorated Black History Month with a lunchtime heritage event. This year’s presentation featured welcoming remarks from Criminal Division Chief Lawrence Middleton, and presentations by AUSA Robyn Bacon, Assistant Deputy of Probation and Pretrial Services, Natasha Mingo, and former AUSA Bayron Gilchrist of the Air Quality Management District.
The Office hosted the 17th Annual United States Attorney Law Enforcement Awards ceremony on November 2nd at LAPD Ronald Deaton Hall to express our gratitude to an exceptional group of dedicated law enforcement professionals who have gone above and beyond in support of our collective mission to safeguard our communities and enforce the law.
This year’s ceremony honored 264 members of federal, state and local law enforcement from 26 law enforcement agencies including many local departments and multiple agencies from Canada. The LAPD Color Guard began the ceremony this year followed by a patriotic presentation by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) choir. United States Attorney Nick Hanna acted as emcee of the event and LAPD Chief Michel Moore provided welcoming remarks.
Congratulations and thank you to all this year’s awardees.
On October 25th, the Office’s Diversity Committee organized an informative panel discussion on the Sleepy Lagoon Trial of 1942 and the Zoot Suit Riots, events that marked two dark, but historic moments in Los Angeles’ Latino History. The panel, comprised of California Court of Appeal Justice Arthur Gilbert, UCLA Prof. Eric Avila, and journalist Beatriz Velasquez, discussed the intense media, judicial and public bias that surrounded these two significant events.
As part of the office’s ongoing commitment to raising awareness of the opioid epidemic, AUSA Ben Barron spoke at the Red Ribbon Week event on October 24th at St. Vincent School in South Los Angeles about the dangers of drug use. The Red Ribbon campaign was created in response to the murder of DEA Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. Around the country, members of the community and schools began wearing Red Ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the killing and destruction caused by drugs in the United States. Each year, the Red Ribbon campaign serves as a catalyst to rally communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities.
Victim-Witness Specialist Allison Stafford was honored at Main Justice in Washington D.C. on October 24th with the coveted Attorney General Award for Excellence in victim services.
The Office, along with the FBI, and a coalition of law enforcement agencies and community organizations hosted the 10th Annual Cybercrime Prevention Symposium on October 15th at the California Endowment in Los Angeles.
The day-long event for more than 450 educators, parents, and middle and high school students marked 10 years of providing cutting-edge information on cyber safety and digital reputation.
This year’s Symposium addressed a wide range of cyber-related security and safety topics with speakers conducting informative discussions on issues that included online exploitation of children and teens, cyberbullying, the implications of digital communication on health, digital reputation, navigating peer pressure, cyber-abuse, internet dangers, and sextortion. The event this year also featured an interactive presentation on sextortion by students from the Theatre Department at California State University, Northridge as well as the traditional lunchtime appearance of surprise of a celebrity guest. This year attendees met and heard a presentation from 15-year-old actor Jack Dylan Grazer from the movie Shazam and Beautiful Boy. Jack took questions from the audience and shared his own experience being cyberbullied.
The Office participated in the 3rd Annual National Coffee with a Cop Day on October 3, 2018. Each year, this is our opportunity to go out into the community we serve and enjoy a cup of coffee with our local law enforcement partners to continue to build on those important relationships. U.S. Attorney Hanna spent the morning with deputies from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
USAO staff and AUSAs attended the Annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Night at Dodger Stadium on September 17th. First Assistant United States Attorney Tracy Wilkison was honored on the field along with federal and law enforcement agencies around the region.
This summer, the Office instituted a program to utilize therapy dogs to provide support and comfort to child and adult crime victims using the services of the non-profit Pet Prescription Team.
The mission and philosophy of the Pet Prescription Team is, “Healing Hearts Through Pets.” The therapeutic use of pets has gained increasing attention in recent years for a wide variety of situations – victims of crime, people with AIDS or cancer, the elderly, and the mentally ill.
The Office recognizes that, unlike people, with whom our interactions may be quite complex and unpredictable, animals provide a constant source of comfort and focus for attention. Animals bring out our nurturing instinct. They also make us feel safe and unconditionally accepted. Thus, our crime victims feel supported, they feel safe and our cases get better! Use of therapy dogs in prosecutorial agencies has shown that the successful prosecution of a victim case often depends on the ability of a victim to accurately report and then testify regarding the details of the victimization. With children—especially traumatized children—this can be extremely difficult. Trained therapy dogs help.
On August 15, the Office provided two community outreach training sessions on the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, also known as RLUIPA. The Civil Rights Section of the Office enforces this act in partnership with our colleagues from the Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C.
The morning session was held at LAPD Olympic Division station and the evening session at Mount Saint Mary’s University. RLUIPA experts speaking included AUSA Acrivi Coromelas from the Civil Rights Section and Ryan Lee, a trial attorney in the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section of the Civil Rights Division in Washington D.C.
The events were intended to provide information regarding RLUIPA and to hear from community members about how land use regulations affect religious groups and how to effectively combat any barriers to places of worship in the Central District of California.
In June 2018, the Justice Department announced the RLUIPA initiative to protect the ability of houses of worship and other religious institutions to build, expand, buy, or rent facilities. The overall goal of the initiative is to increase the Department’s enforcement of the statute. The initiative also seeks to strengthen awareness of the land use provisions of RLUIPA through community outreach, such as this event.
As part of the initiative, the Department has further worked to identify barriers that religious organizations encounter in developing places to worship. Educational materials were provided to the attendees at the events informing them about their rights under RLUIPA. The engagement of religious leaders and organizations will help the Office and the Department as a whole be more effective in bringing federal resources to bear on this important issue.
For more information, see https://www.justice.gov/crt/religious-land-use-and-institutionalized-persons-act
On August 14th, U.S. Attorney Hanna addressed the 27th Annual California Gang Investigators (CGIA) Conference in Anaheim. Each year, CGIA hosts nearly 700 local, state and international law enforcement officers and prosecutors in a multi-disciplinary training on gangs and gang violence issues from the national perspective. This year, in his welcoming remarks, the U.S. Attorney outlined the many successes our office has had over the past year in the prosecution of gang, gun and RICO cases in federal court. In addition, he renewed our commitment to work with our local and federal law enforcement partners to address the issue of gang and gun violence in our nation.
On August 2nd, the office celebrated National Night Out 2018 with events across the Central District. National Night Out is designed to enhance our partnership with law enforcement and the community. The goal is to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, generate support for, and participation in local anti-crime programs, strengthen neighborhood unity and police-community partnerships, and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back. Law Enforcement Coordinator David Cons attended the LAPD event in Olympic Division.
This summer marks the 8th year of the Office’s participation in the City of Los Angeles Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) Summer Night Lights program. Summer Night Lights (SNL) is a successful, nationally recognized anti-violence project in Los Angeles. SNL programs operate during the summer months in 32 parks and recreation centers throughout the city. A fundamental purpose of the program is to keep neighborhood parks open late into the night as safe havens of activities for young people and their families.
In 2011, at the behest of the City, the United States Attorney’s Office “adopted” the Summer Night Lights site located at Jim Gilliam Park and Recreation Center in the Baldwin Village neighborhood of South Los Angeles. Jim Gilliam Park was selected because South Los Angeles had a long history of high crime rates and gang violence and the Office volunteers wanted to make an impactful contribution to violence prevention in the neighborhood. In 2016, the Office added the Highland Park Recreation Center as a second site to provide more volunteer opportunities for USAO AUSAs and staff.
Each of the past 8 years, USAO personnel have volunteered at the parks, working side-by-side with GRYD staff, helping to run a variety of activities for local youth, including basketball games, a skateboard park, arts and crafts tables, dinner and ice cream stations and a popular face-painting station for kids.
This year, dozens of USAO volunteers attended summer night events at both parks, volunteering with the community and making a difference to the neighborhoods we serve in the Central District of California.
The positive results in each community have been significant. The City’s statistics indicate that crime rates in the Baldwin Village neighborhood typically drop during the Summer Night Lights program. Beyond statistics, United States Attorney’s Office volunteers have reported that the park and neighborhood have become safer every year that they have volunteered in the community. Perhaps most importantly, this outreach project provides an ongoing platform for community members, federal prosecutors and office staff to meet and engage outside the confines of the federal courthouse.
On July 26 and 27, the USAO sponsored the third in a series of VALOR training programs for law enforcement agencies. Funded and sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and co-sponsored by the Office and the Glendora Police Department, the program consisted of four sessions over two days instructing local and federal law enforcement officers on rescue tactics for community members and law enforcement personnel who need emergency medical assistance and treatment of traumatic injuries. This training was an intensive follow-up to the VALOR Survive and Thrive training conducted in May, 2018.
The week of July 16th, the female prosecutors from the USAO Cyber Section joined the FBI to support the Cyber G-Girl Summer Camp at the Orange County Discovery Cube. Twenty four middle school girls were mentored by a team of female FBI special agents from around the region and learned cyber –related STEM skills. Under the guidance of EAUSA Stephanie Christensen, FAUSA Tracy Wilkison, AUSAs Jennie Wang, Lisa Feldman, Robyn Bacon, Ellen Lansden, Cameron Schroeder and Vicki Chou, and Director of Communications and Public Affairs Tracy Webb, the girls investigated a cyber-criminal and presented the case to the “Grand Jury” (AKA their parents) on the final day of camp. The week culminated with an award ceremony where FBI SAC Voviette Morgan presented each girl with a special certificate.
This year on July 13, 2018, the Office hosted the First Annual USAO “Bring your Child(ren) To Work” Day.
The goal of the event was to provide a forum for employees’ children to better understand where their parents work and the significance and importance of their jobs to the communities we serve. It was also an opportunity for career exploration for the children and a chance to experience a day out in the “real world” with their grown-up.
Each of the 88 children in attendance was treated to a day in the life of a USAO employee. They received a “pretend” ID badge, participated in a “Quest for Justice” scavenger hunt throughout the office, met the office therapy dogs and experienced a mock federal trial – United States v. The Big Bad Wolf.
The Office commemorated LGBT Pride Month in a co-hosted event with the Federal Public Defender’s Office on June 28, 2018. The office Diversity Committee coordinated the event with AUSA Abby Evans moderating a discussion featuring expert speakers Andrew Park and Jessica Stern.
Each speaker provided expertise in international LGBT issues. Mr. Park focused the discussion on the intersection of public opinion, economics and legal change in countries around the world. Ms. Stern focused on the current trends in LGBT rights across the world, including advancements and setbacks. She provided interesting statistics and anecdotes about criminalization of homosexuality in 72 countries around the world, as well as the crackdown on free speech, associating, financing and legal identification of LGBT advocacy/support organizations from the international perspective.
The Office had the honor of participating in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office Project LEAD program again this year. Project LEAD (Legal Enrichment and Decision Making) is a school-based program that teaches 5th grade students about the criminal justice system and helps them understand that the choices they make today may affect their lives forever.
Coordinated this year by AUSAs Reema El-Amamy and Amanda Bettinelli, the program sent over 25 AUSAs to volunteer an hour a week in Lorena Street Elementary School and Gratts Learning Academy classrooms acting as role models to teach the students about their professional backgrounds, law-related concepts and the benefits of making good life choices. Volunteers included AUSAs Jeff Mitchell, Joe Woodring, Scott Paetty, Melanie Sartoris, Carol Chen, Roger Hsieh, Karen Escalante, Joe Axelrad, Allison Westfahl-Kong, Dennis Mitchell, Lindsey Dotson, Alex Wyman, Eddie Jauregui, Jill Feeney, Sheila Nagaraj, Monica Tait, Robyn Bacon, Chris Kendall, Bryant Yang, Alexander Schwab, Ellen Lansden, Aron Ketchel, Shaurish Appleby-Bhattacharjee and Poonam Kumar.
The semester culminated on June 1, 2018, with a mock trial in the United States Courthouse in which the students’ role played as trial participants. The trial this year involved issues of bullying and possession of a gun. In the scenario, a student who was being bullied was found to have a firearm and bullets in a backpack. The student claimed that he/she did not know that the gun was in his/her backpack, and that it was put in there by a gang member cousin who had borrowed the backpack the day before. Judge Gutierrez and Judge Marshall presided over the two mock trials.
Following the trial, the students were treated to a pizza party and heard from speakers including United States Attorney Hanna, DEA and ATF special agents, and several LAPD officers.
This year on May 18, 2018, the office celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with a lunch event and an interesting panel discussion with three distinguished speakers, Magistrate Judge Shashi Kewalramani of the U.S. District Court, Judge Rupa Goswami and Judge Rob Villeza of the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Coordinated by AUSA Puneet Kakkar - the office’s Asian American Pacific Islander Special Emphasis Program Manager, and co-chairs First Assistant United States Attorney Tracy Wilkison and AUSA Reema El-Amamy, the theme for this year’s commemoration was “Unite Our Vision by Working Together.” This theme is crucial to not only our celebration of the heritage and contributions of Asian Americans but for us as individual members of society and as public servants providing vital service to our national interest.
The Central District of California has one of the largest Asian-American and Pacific Islander constituencies in the country. Our office is proud to serve these communities, and is proud that our talented staff and AUSAs reflect this diversity.
As part of an ongoing effort to provide training for our local law enforcement partners in the district, the office partnered with the Bureau of Justice Assistance to host the second in a series of Survive & Thrive trainings. On May 8th and 9th, the office provided training to nearly 100 law enforcement officers from around the district. The event, co-hosted by the Glendora Police Department, is an effort to improve the immediate and long-term safety, wellness, and resilience of law enforcement officers. Through a multifaceted approach that includes delivering training, developing and providing resources, and establishing partnerships that benefit law enforcement officers, the VALOR Initiative seeks to provide our nation's law enforcement officers with innovative, useful, and valuable resources.
National Police Week was May 13 – 19 this year. During that week and throughout the month of May, the office engaged in a host of activities to support and honor our law enforcement partners.
To begin the commemoration in honor of our law enforcement partners, on April 23rd, working in partnership with our local ATF and USMS Office, U.S. Attorney Hanna and office staff participated in tactical entry, shoot, no-shoot scenario training. The training enabled personnel to become more aware of the types of scenarios officers and agents face every day. Moreover, it allowed an opportunity for senior leadership to better understand the training needs of law enforcement within our district.
On May 3rd, U.S. Attorney Hanna and office staff participated in the annual Los Angeles Police Department Memorial Service to honor fallen officers killed in the line of duty.
On May 8th, U.S. Attorney Hanna attended the FBI’s Fallen Agent Memorial Service to honor fallen agents. On May 8th and 9th, the office hosted a BJA-sponsored VALOR Survive & Thrive Training for over 100 law enforcement officers from throughout the Central District. The training was cohosted by the Glendora Police Department and the Western States Information Network. AUSA Aron Ketchel gave welcoming remarks.
On May 10th, U.S. Attorney Hanna highlighted our district’s violent-crime strategy and opportunities for increased collaboration at the International Latino Gang Investigators Conference in Ontario. U.S. Attorney Hanna also provided opening remarks at the California Narcotics Officers’ Association’s annual dinner that evening.
On May 11th, U.S. Attorney Hanna and office personnel celebrated those who have chosen to serve the public at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Recruit Graduation. On May 23rd, U.S. Attorney Hanna attended the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Memorial honoring deputies killed in the line of duty.
The office participated in this year’s DEA National Prescription Drug Take back day on April 28th, during which the DEA in Los Angeles collected over 32,000 pounds of unwanted prescription drugs! That’s 32,000 pounds of drugs that won’t end up in the hands of children, drug traffickers, or in our water supply. The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse and medications.
The office proudly participated in Denim Day this year on April 25th. 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.
According to denimdayinfo.org, a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court in the 1990s originally triggered the campaign when it overturned a rape conviction 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 the California Senate and Assembly and Denim Day in California 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, estimates are that well over a million people across the United States participated in Denim Day.
On April 13, 2018, the Office participated in an Operation School Bell outreach program this school year with the Assistance League of Los Angeles, LAPD Southeast Division, the Los Angeles Unified School District and Operation School Bell volunteers. U. S. Attorney Nick Hanna along with First Assistant USA Tracy Wilkison, Executive Assistant USA Stephanie Christensen, Chief of the Tax Division Tom Coker, Chief of the Civil Rights Section Joanna Hull, AUSA Lisa Feldman, Law Enforcement Coordinator David Cons and Director of External Affairs Tracy Webb teaming with Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School in South Los Angeles distributing new shoes, backpacks, school supplies, books, and school uniforms to the elementary school children, many of whom were homeless.
On April 11, 2018, the office held its Annual Victim Service Awards ceremony to honor prosecutors and federal law enforcement personnel who consistently strive to provide a focused, victim-centered approach to supporting victims of crime and next of kin. Awardees this year were AUSAs Vanessa Baehr-Jones, Joey Blanch, Indira J. Cameron-Banks, Jeffrey M. Chemerinsky, Jennifer Y. Chou, Christopher C. Kendall, Jeff P. Mitchell and Sean D. Peterson. The ceremony was spearheaded by the Office’s Victim Witness Assistance section led by Supervisor Allison Stafford
and including Dolores Perez, Mark Villasenor, Clayesha McElwee, and Amybeth Lake.
In observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, On April 10, 2018, the Office hosted a presentation and resource fair to honor victims and survivors. The office, in partnership with Mount Saint Mary’s University, hosted a victim rights presentation and a resource fair with the goal of ensuring that every crime victim has access to services and support. The event honored victims and their advocates, and highlighted services available to victims of crime.
United States Attorney Nick Hanna was joined at the event by AUSA Lana Morton-Owens, Human Trafficking Coordinator and representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles Police Department, and non-profit victim support service organizations. The Pet Prescription Team made a presentation on how therapy dogs can provide vital support to crime victims. The speakers emphasized how law enforcement, mental-health professionals, community-based organizations and local residents can work in tandem to support crime victims. The Resource Fair included representatives from the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking; the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, Crisis Response Team (CRT); Strength United; the YWCA of Los Angeles; and the Los Angeles LGBTQ Center.