Archive for the ‘Contra Costa County’ Category

DA Becton announces end of backlog of untested sexual assault kits

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County District Attorney

On Tuesday, March 12, 2019, District Attorney Diana Becton and staff attended an event in New York City to announce the end of the backlog of untested sexual assault kits in Contra Costa County. These results come from the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office participation in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Elimination Grant Program, a three-year grant program to test sexual assault kits.

Our Office was one of 32 grantees funded, totaling $1,841,535 to test 1,246 kits since 2015. The testing of these kits allowed for DNA evidence to be uploaded to the national DNA databank to assist in investigations and identify offenders.

“We partnered with 24 law enforcement agencies in our community to erase the backlog of sexual assault kits in Contra Costa County,” said Becton. “I want to express my gratitude for our partners working with our office to end the backlog. Testing these kits can help bring closure and justice to sexual assault victims. We are going to continue working on this issue to ensure we never have a backlog in our community again.”

To ease the burden of testing these kits, through this grant our Office collected the untested kits from participating agencies and sent the kits to Sorenson Forensics in Utah. The collaboration between Sorenson Forensics, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Crime Lab and our Office allowed for a more efficient process of testing these kits.

Due to state law in California, law enforcement agencies have mandated reporting timeframes to test these kits. If an agency chooses not to test, they have to substantiate their reasons to the California Department of Justice. Our Office will continue to monitor the progress of all agencies in Contra Costa County to ensure state law is followed and no kits remain untested.

Overall, the Manhattan District Attorney’s program tested 55,242 kits and resulted in 18,803 DNA profiles uploaded into the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). Locally, the results here for our kits were:

  • 1,246 kits DNA tested (1978 to 2016)
  • 182 DNA profiles entered into CODIS
  • 122 Confirmatory hits
  • 51 Offender hits
  • 8 Cases reopened for further review by law enforcement agencies
  • Full compliance of all participating agencies
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County Supervisors approve funding for Kirker Pass truck lane, Northern Waterfront Initiative

Friday, March 1st, 2019

By Daniel Borsuk

With Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood absent from the meeting because she was recuperating from successful heart surgery on Monday, Contra Costa County Supervisors voted 4-0 to approve a variety of consent calendar agenda items during their regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 26. They included the following, the first two of which will benefit Antioch residents:

Kirker Pass Road Truck Lane Funding

Supervisors awarded a $14,153,763 contract to Granite Rock Company to construct the Kirker Pass Road Northbound Truck Climbing Lane project. Construction is set to begin this summer to add a truck lane on Kirker Pass Road from the Concord Pavilion to Hess Road. The addition of the lane is designed to reduce accidents caused by trucks traveling up Kirker Pass Road. Other contractors and their bids at the Jan. 22 disclosure were: Bay Cities Paving & Grading, Inc., $14,886,666; Ghilotti Construction Company, Inc., $15,225,077. 60; Gordon N. Ball, Inc. $15,528,038.20; Flatiron West, Inc. $15,528,038.20; Granite Construction Co, $16, 073, 185.10; O.C. Jones & Sons, Inc. $16,073, 788 and DeSilva Gates Construction, $17,500,000.

Waterfront Initiative Funding

Supervisors approved the new funding allocations of $142,500 to implement approved Northern Waterfront initiatives planned for 2019-2020. Those expenditures included $50,000 for the Hercules site exploration for bioscience, $12,000 for a May forum, $10,000 for State Lands/Crockett waterfront access, $70,000 for collaborative marketing and a marketing video. Supervisors had budgeted $500,000 in 2017 to cover Northern Waterfront Economic Development Initiative projects. Since the initiative’s launch, the only expenditure since then has been the $263,000 to consultant contracts or grant match.

Hazardous Materials Response Vehicle Funding

Spending $1.3 million from the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District budget to buy a Type I Hazardous Materials Response Vehicle that will be owned and operated by the county fire district. The acquisition of a new Type I Hazardous Material Response Vehicle will allow the fire district to own and operate its own vehicle. Since the formation of the county’s Hazardous Materials Team in 2016, the team has operated a vehicle on loan from the California Office of Emergency Services. That vehicle was recently out of service for over 30 days while it received warranty related repairs in Sacramento. That compromised the Contra Costa County team’s ability to respond to hazardous response incidents. Buying this vehicle will permit the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District to respond to future hazardous material response incidents.

Emerging Aeronautical Technologies to Be Promoted at County Airports

Supervisors permitted County Airports Director Keith Freitas to promote and market Buchanan Field and Byron Airport as testing locations for emerging aeronautical and aeronautical related technologies. There will be no financial cost to the county general fund associated with the promotion and marketing campaign. Airport staff and any county counsel staff time will be charged to the Airport Enterprise Fund.

Paying Additional $11,000 to Winchester for Sheriff’s Department Ammunition

Supervisors agreed to pay an additional $11,000 to buy Winchester ammunition for the Office of the Sheriff because after more than 20 years, Winchester has changed its ammunition distributor in Northern California from Adamson Police Products to Dooley Enterprises. In 2017, the Office of the Sheriff executed a new purchase order with Dooley Enterprises as the new Winchester ammunition distributor to meet future training and duty ammunition demands. As a result of the change in the purchase order. the county will have paid $411,000, not $400,000 for the purchase of ammunition for the period of July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2019.

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Coroner’s inquest jury determines in custody death of child molestation suspect from Antioch was suicide

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff-Coroner

Sheriff-Coroner David O. Livingston announces that a Coroner’s jury has reached a finding in the June 12, 2018 death of 52-year-old Phillip Andrew Jacobson of Antioch. The finding of the jury is that the death was a suicide.

Jacobson was arrested on booked into jail on July 11, 2017 by the Antioch Police Department. He was being held on eight counts of child molestation. (See related article).

The Coroner’s jury reached a unanimous verdict after hearing the testimony of witnesses called by hearing officer Matthew Guichard.

A Coroner’s inquest, which Sheriff-Coroner Livingston convenes in fatal incidents involving peace officers, is a public hearing during which a jury rules on the manner of a person’s death. Jury members can choose from the following four options when making their finding: Accident, Suicide
Natural Causes,  and At the hands of another person, other than by accident.

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County Supervisor Diane Burgis schedules surgery to repair heart valve

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

Supervisor Diane Burgis. Herald file photo.

In an open letter to District 3 residents, Supervisor Diane Burgis, who has served the district since 2016, issued the following statement regarding her health.

“When I count the things I am grateful for, representing you is right up there with my family, friends and good health. I am humbled and honored for the trust that you have placed in me, and I take the responsibility that comes with that trust very seriously.

That is why I want you to know that I am having heart surgery on February 25 to replace an aortic valve due to aortic stenosis, or a narrowing of my aortic valve. What some don’t know is that when I was seven years old, I had this same procedure, and my surgeons told me then that I would likely need another surgery later in life. The good news is that due to my overall health, the operation is happening much later than they predicted.

My doctors, who have performed hundreds of these procedures, assure me that my prognosis is excellent and that I will be better than new after the surgery. I will be in the hospital for approximately one week and then at home for recovery.

In the meantime, I promise that you will receive the same high level of service, sound decision-making, and representation as always. My staff and the County staff will keep me updated on the issues, and my office will continue the vital work that we are doing, in consultation with me, and under the leadership of my Chief of Staff, Mark Goodwin.

I also want to put everyone on notice – if you think it’s hard to keep up with me now, just wait!! I look forward to continuing our work together to create opportunities and find solutions to our challenges in Contra Costa County.

I also can’t wait to ride my bike on the Marsh Creek trail, hike up Mount Diablo, kayak on the Delta, chase my beautiful grandson, and get back on the tennis courts!

I am ready for more adventures in this terrific life!

Thank you for your support, and well wishes.”

Mark Goodwin, Burgis’ Chief of Staff will be the primary point of contact during Supervisor Burgis’ surgery and recovery. Well wishes may be sent to Supervisor Burgis at her main office, 3361 Walnut Boulevard, Suite 140, Brentwood, CA 94513.

Supervisor Diane Burgis represents District 3, the largest of the five Contra Costa County Board of Supervisor districts, which includes Antioch, Bethel Island, Brentwood, Byron, Discovery Bay, Knightsen, and Oakley in East Contra Costa County and Blackhawk, Diablo and Tassajara Valley in the southern portion of the district.

 

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Supervisors appoint nine to 2020 Census Complete Count Steering Committee

Thursday, February 14th, 2019

By Daniel Borsuk

At their meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors appointed nine persons to serve in At-Large seats on the 2020 Census County Complete Count Steering Committee, a committee designed to set goals and objectives to identify community areas or a population group that might be difficult to count.

Appointed to the committee are Fran Biderman of Kensington, Alvaro Fuentes of Richmond, Samuel Houston of Concord, Melody Howe Weintraub of Lafayette, Terry Koehne of San Ramon, Mark Orcutt of Walnut Creek, Andres Orozco of Brentwood and Ali Saidi of Pinole.

District 3 Supervisors Diane Burgis of Brentwood chairs the committee.

Formation of the 2020 Census Complete county Steering Committee will aid the county is securing up to $362,605 in state aid to support the Complete Count campaign.

Supervisors Support Creation of Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets

On a consent action, supervisors called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to create a statewide commission on recycling markets citing the severity of environmental impacts triggered by China’s National Sword, that nation’s strict mixed paper and plastic contamination policy.

Upon noting that China has recently enacted strict mixed paper and plastic contamination limits and import bans, that are commonly called “National Sword,” China has declared its intent to ban all recyclable materials by 2020.

The board’s resolution states:

“Whereas, local governments across California will soon have to comply with additional state regulations for organic waste diversion and processing, SB 1383 (Chapters 395, 2016) establishes targets to achieve a 50 percent reduction in the level of the statewide disposal of organic waste from the 2014 level by 2020 and a 75 percent reduction by 2025.  Infrastructure required to implement these regulations is expected to cost billions of dollars; and

“Whereas, these increased diversion requirements added to recent changes to international policies and a declining global market value for recyclables, has resulted in an issue of statewide concern for the resource recovery industry, local governments, and Californians;

“NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Count of Contra Costa calls for the Governor to establish a statewide Commission to address these significant challenges to our recycling markets.”

Victim/Witness Program Post Approved

District Attorney Diana Becton won supervisors’ consent approval to hire a full-time Victim/Witness Assistance Program Specialist in the Human Trafficking unit.  The position will be responsible for advocacy and direct services for victims of human trafficking.  The position’s salary will be $3,992 to $4,853 per month.

Approve $149,869 Payment to Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association

Supervisors also approved the payment of $149,869 to the Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association (BASMAA) for services provided to the Contra Costa Clean Water Program during the period July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018.  Program funding is provided by the county and 19 cities and towns within Contra Costa County.  Contra Costa County’s share is about $22,500.

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Supervisors advance North Waterfront Strategic Action Plan, need MOU’s from 7 cities

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

Approve funds for inoperable RV removal, Marsh Creek Corridor Trail study

By Daniel Borsuk

Five years in the making, Contra Costa County’s ambitious Northern Waterfront Strategic Action Plan might be nearing the end of the long, grueling planning road.  Or is it? NWEDI Strategic Action Plan BOS 1-22-19

Supervisors on Tuesday waved the green flag for planners to begin what can be a challenging negotiating process of collecting Memorandums of Understanding from seven cities – Antioch, Brentwood, Concord, Hercules, Martinez, Oakley, and Pittsburg – that stand to financially benefit from potential economic development along Contra Costa County’s northern waterfront stretching from Hercules to Brentwood.

County planners aim to present the MOUs to the supervisors by this summer.

After conducting more than 200 community meetings on the action plan, consultant Gary Craft told supervisors while the “Northern Waterfront Strategic Action Plan is not cast in concrete,” he encouraged the supervisors to take action on the Strategic Action Plan, a piece of advice supervisors heeded and approved when they authorized county planning officials to begin talks with officials of the seven cities along the Sacramento River.

Should the cities and county sign off on the MOUs, over time the long dormant northern waterfront could potentially spawn an economic renaissance [n an area that once was a major region known for its ship building, steel, sugar. canning, and paper manufacturing heydays.  Thousands of new, clean tech-oriented jobs would emerge, creating a new and steady tax base for local and county government.

Five industries would be targeted under the Northern Waterfront Strategic Action Plan, according to Craft.  Those industries are biomedical, advanced transportation technology, advanced manufacturing, clean technologies, and food processing/agribusiness.

Most speakers were in favor of the waterfront plan’s findings, with the exception of Caltrans retiree Doug Sibley of Martinez who wondered about how the plan would fulfill the public transportation needs for new businesses coming to the waterfront. He queried if county planners were trying to use the existing Caltrain service that runs through the waterfront area from Martinez to Pittsburg for future public transportation development as the Northern Waterfront plan matures. No one from the county planning department answered his question.

“You must now get the MOUs from the cities of Pittsburg, Antioch, Oakley, Brentwood, Concord, Martinez, and Hercules, “urged Kristin Connelly, President and Chief Executive Officer of the East Bay Leadership Council, a nonprofit organization that endorses the waterfront plan.

District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover, who is credited for jump-starting the waterfront plan in 2014, said “I wanted this process to be totally transparent.  I wanted this process completed five years ago, but I realized it would require studies inclusive or our actions.”

“I appreciate the report you have done,” District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood said.  “Now the cities have to come together.  Transportation is an issue.  Housing is important.  We will move forward with the plan. “

Approve $150,000 for Removal of Inoperable RVs

In other business, supervisors unanimously approved the expenditure of $150,000 of general funds to remove abandoned recreational vehicles that are a joint problem handled by the County Department of Conservation and Development and the Sheriff’s Department.  The DCD has authority to tow when an  RV is located on private property and the Sheriff has authority when it is in the right of way.

It is estimated that each abandoned RV that is removed will cost the county about $3,000 to remove from public streets.

Board Chair John Gioia of Richmond and District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg requested the $150,000 expenditure.

District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill commented on the issue saying, “I am seeing more of these abandoned vehicles in my area.  I want a report to show how many have been removed in a year.”

It is assumed the 50,000 abandoned RV’s will have been removed and the $150,000 fund will have been exhausted in about a year’s time.

Approve $299,735 for Marsh Creek Corridor Trail Study

Supervisors also approved a Department of Conservation and Development request to grant a $299,735 contract with the planning firm of Fehr & Peers to develop a Marsh Creek Corridor Multi-Use Trail Study. The contract would study ways to develop a 13-mile long multi-use trail through the Marsh Creek corridor aligned with Marsh Creek Road between the cities of Clayton and Brentwood.

The contract’s funding is a collaborative effort of cities of Brentwood and Clayton, the East Bay Regional Park District, Contra Costa Transportation Authority, County Flood Control District, Contra Costa County Health Services Department, East Contra Costa Habitat Conservancy, and non-governmental organizations and advocacy groups including Save Mount Diablo, John Marsh Historic Trust, Delta Peddlers and Bike East Bay.

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Rx Drop Boxes let residents safely dispose of unwanted medicine at CVS Pharmacy locations

Thursday, January 10th, 2019

Contra Costa residents with unwanted prescription medicines can safely dispose of them at 27 CVS Pharmacy locations in the county thanks to new, secure drop boxes added through the county’s Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance.

The ordinance, passed in 2016, requires pharmaceutical drug manufacturers to provide collection services for unused drugs, to protect the environment and prevent accidental poisonings or intentional misuse of drugs such as prescription opioids.

“Safe storage and disposal of medications is one of the easiest and most important ways that each of us can help turn our county’s opioid abuse epidemic around,” said April Rovero, founder of the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse and Chair of the Contra Costa County MEDS Coalition.

The drop-box service is free, secure and confidential. The medications can be disposed of at the sites even if they weren’t purchased at CVS. Most medications are accepted in their original containers or in sealed bags. Drugs and packaging placed in drop boxes will be safely destroyed. In addition to CVS Pharmacy locations, 10 Kaiser facilities in Contra Costa also have the drop boxes.

“This new medication disposal program will help save both lives and our environment by making appropriate disposal as easy as stopping by a nearby CVS Pharmacy or Kaiser Permanente,” said Contra Costa County Supervisor Diane Burgis.

“We are pleased to work with the County to help provide access to safe medication disposal sites in Contra Costa County as part of our company’s commitment to helping prevent and address prescription opioid abuse and misuse,” said Tom Davis, R.Ph., Vice President, Professional Services, CVS Pharmacy.

Visit cchealth.org/safe-drug-disposal for more information about the ordinance and a link to a searchable database of Contra Costa locations with drop boxes.

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Contra Costa County launches Human Trafficking Task Force with $1.2 million federal grant

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Office of the District Attorney, Contra Costa County

Contra Costa County recently received $1.2 million under the Federal Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) to establish a new Human Trafficking Task Force. Under the three-year grant from OVC, $500,000 is going to the Employment and Human Services Department (EHSD) for victim services and $700,000 goes to the District Attorney’s Office. This federal grant will assist both departments in developing this multidisciplinary task force that will implement victim-centered and coordinated approaches to identify victims of sex and labor trafficking through services and investigating and prosecuting these trafficking cases.

The Task Force will be an enhancement of the Contra Costa County Rescue and Restore Coalition (commonly referred to as the Human Trafficking Coalition) that was jointly formed with the Office of the District Attorney, EHSD and other partners in 2009 to address human trafficking in our county and the greater Bay Area. The Task Force’s “core team” will be co-chaired by Assistant District Attorney Venus D. Johnson and the Director of the Alliance to End Abuse Devorah Levine to ensure effective and efficient collaboration between investigation and prosecution and victim support and services.

To further combat trafficking in the county, District Attorney Diana Becton recently created a Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit within the District Attorney’s Office, which will be staffed by a dedicated sex trafficking prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Dana Filkowski.

“Our law enforcement partners will be able to focus on the growing problems associated with human trafficking in our community with this task force,” Becton stated. “We know that sharing confidential information and conducting complex investigations is challenging and resource intensive. However, with this new framework, we can prosecute those perpetrators who often times go unnoticed and provide comprehensive services to victims of trafficking. We have to keep raising awareness with the public and our law enforcement partners about the real threats that human trafficking poses to Contra Costa County.”

The Human Trafficking Task Force of Contra Costa County will be a collaboration of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies working together with victim service organizations to; 1) better identify all types of human trafficking victims; 2) enhance investigation and prosecution of all types of human trafficking; 3) address the individualized needs of all identified human trafficking victims by linking them to comprehensive services; 4) enhance awareness of human trafficking among law enforcement and service providers, as well as within the broader Contra Costa community; and 5) improve trauma-informed practices for human trafficking victims within law enforcement and victim service providers.

Task Force partners on the law enforcement side, headed by the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s office, will include agencies such as the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the F.B.I. and local law enforcement agencies. Task Force partners on the victim service side, headed by Contra Costa County’s Alliance to End Abuse, include Calli House Youth Shelter (Contra Costa Behavioral Health Services), Community Violence Solutions, Bay Area Legal Aid, International Rescue Committee, and STAND! For Families Free of Violence.

Contra Costa County is a natural corridor for human trafficking activities with its linkage to major metropolitan areas like Oakland and San Francisco via public transportation (BART) and its accessibility to Los Angeles and Sacramento via major highways such as 680, 80 and 5 (via Hwy 4). Though human trafficking is illegal, victims often do not know where to turn for help and community members may not know where to report suspicious situations.

The Contra Costa Human Trafficking Task Force, in partnership with the Contra Costa Human Trafficking Coalition will be working with local agencies to raise awareness about human trafficking in Contra Costa County throughout the month of January. The FBI has identified California as one of the nation’s top destination states for trafficked persons.

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